It is not always easy! And sometimes things can be a bit of both. Stumbling blocks are important to our growth and to our discipleship. They challenge us to see God more clearly and often in people and places where it is hard to see Him. Unheeded warnings can also be great teachers, albeit sometimes painful ones. The first thing we need to do is stop. Both stumbling blocks and warnings can be ignored, at least initially. When we stop and let them get our attention we can get more clear about our response. This is where our faith practices – meditation,worship,and prayer- can be helpful to slow us down. A check in with a spiritual friend, pastor or vicar can help too!
Maybe start with a list of words that describe Jesus for you. Is He compassionate or harsh? Generous or reserved? Kind or mean? Know that in Scriptures, He is all of these things and more. He is compassionate to those who are hurting or excluded. He is harsh to those who hurt and exclude. He is generous to those in need and reserved with those in power. He is kind to children and a little mean to the religious leaders who keep failing to understand. Where we will find Jesus will relate to where we find ourselves. And then He will call us to see Him in more and more places and people.
Is finding time for God really that easy? Maybe the more surprising thing is how little time it takes to feel more connected to God. A few deep breaths repeating a phrase like, ‘Jesus have mercy on me’ or ‘God is good all the time’. A quick step outside to look at one thing in nature and remember how God cares for that bird, squirrel or tree can help us remember how He cares for us. Or for me…’checking my face’ to discover that my brow is furrowed and my jaw is tight and then, intentionally relaxing it. You’ve just spent 30 seconds reading this…maybe one of these things made you feel just a little more peace. Now repeat! —Pastor Trudy
Parables aren’t straightforward, and I don’t think they’re meant to be! Isn’t it strange that Jesus spoke to us in that way? Instead of a list of commands (which, by the way, we have already been given), Jesus used stories to give us glimpses of God’s Kingdom. Stories say so much more and cover so many more situations than a list of rules ever could! Since long before Jesus’ time humans have used story to communicate rules, fear, anger, hope, joy, love, and so much more! Jesus’ stories push us to talk to each other, and they make us work to see things from a perspective that’s different from our own. Parables help us to see our own choices and actions in new ways too. What a beautiful way for Jesus to show us his love: by connecting with us using our own language of story! —Vicar Sharai
I’m anticipating people in business in our congregation or anyone who has had Econ 101 arguing with our Gospel lesson for the week. If you pay everyone the same, no matter how many hours they work, what will they do the next time you go to hire workers? When a passage stirs up some anger or frustration, it is an invitation to lean in…to ponder what we might be missing. In the case of this week’s Gospel leaning in would reveal that the whole system is broken. Romans have taken over the land of peasants who are now hired to work the land that once provided what they needed to live. The same system pits the workers against each other to just get by. Maybe when we disagree with a passage we are opening up to join Jesus in turning the world upside down. —Pastor Trudy