If you were starting a business that only produced one out of four viable products at the end of a complex and costly factory process, you’d be lucky to find investors to back you. However, although Jesus – through the parable of the sower – suggests three out of four won’t hear the message, with the Gospel always being freely available to all, success can easily come from failure.
Are we willing to let go of our ideas of what ‘looking good’ looks like? Are we willing to shed our ideas of what we ‘should’ be doing? Are we willing to let go of our illusion of control? What does success look like – and are we seeing success as trying to fit in, getting on with those around us: twisting our Christian faith into a call to ‘niceness’, as nobody can be offended?
Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ two sisters had let Jesus know that their brother, Jesus friend, was ill. It was days later that Jesus set off to visit: “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died” – hardly words of welcome from Mary and Martha to Jesus, but understandable in the height of grief. Jesus was moved and understood their grief – as Jesus cared for the ten lepers, the man with the shrivelled hand, the blind man and indeed Lazarus, he cares for us too: although as with Lazarus, it may not be at a time we expect.
As 11am approaches, a short service by the war memorial takes place at St Mark’s. We honour the dead, of all sides in conflict – remembering the sacrifices made by others for our freedoms today.
Faced with all the evil in the world, and all that is going wrong, do we just feel powerless? What can we do about Syria, Iraq, Iran – and conflicts here and now in the western hemisphere? But we can – in our own lives – strive to live in a different way. We can because we are the body of Christ and through Christ can strive towards all that builds peace.
Described as a chief, rich, tax collector, he was as a result an outcast to his own people – seen to be in cahoots with the Roman occupiers. Looked down upon and shunned by all, literally by virtue of his height: but have we ever felt we ourselves don’t measure up and are not enough?
“I am the light of the world” said Jesus – referring to our lives here on earth, and our lives after – in eternity. Jesus light shines powerfully in our lives; and often when we’re at our darkest, focusing on Jesus sees illumination all the brighter.
The story of the ten lepers who were healed: but only one came back to say thanks. Do we desire something from Jesus rather than Jesus himself? Will we settle for a moment relief – or will we look below the surface to see more than new skin?
Have you ever read a book and really loved it? Have you then dreaded the news that a film is being made of that book – can it live up to how you imagained the characters would be in your head when presented on the big screen? As Jesus came home and read in the synagogue from Isaiah, how would those who knew him from childhood react – as the character they’d read so often from their scriptures was not the king they likely imagined!
Blind from birth; never to see a sunrise, a smile. He was a life waiting to be born: today, he became a new creation – a living testimony to Jesus healing work. Yet those around were unable to see him – as if they did, they would have to confront their own blindness.