Tag Archives: Christianity

A sermon for Pentecost Sunday – 8 June 2014


SCRIPTURE:    Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19–23

In I Corinthians 12, Paul writes about the various gifts of the Spirit. And out of this chapter and similar passages in Romans and elsewhere, a large industry has developed to help us discover our gifts. Fill out this form; take this quiz; answer these questions, and you will discover the gifts the Spirit has given you.

Assessment industry
Of course it is all part of the massive assessment industry. We have interest tests to determine what career we should pursue, aptitude tests to determine cognitive abilities, psychometric tests to check all sorts of things from IQ and EQ to management potential and job fit.

Now these are very useful tools in the business world. But the problem is that they all work on the basis of averages. The majority of sales people fit into this pattern. The majority of great managers fit this profile. Your profile suggests that you will have trouble in this area.

Such assessments are very helpful. But if you want your business, your NGO, your school, to be better than ordinary, then you want your employees to be better than ‘normal’. You don’t want ordinary employees that fit the ordinary profile; you want to find some extraordinary ones.

An apprentice
Let me give you a couple of examples from different ends of the employment spectrum. We were employing apprentices, and we settled on one particular person who simply didn’t fit the normal boxes for selection as an apprentice. She was a woman (a first in that position), ‘old’ for an apprentice and married. However she flew through every interview we had and impressed all the males who were interviewing her.

Trial period
We took her on for a trial period of three months to assess her before spending money sending her to college. During that time I sent her for formal assessments including numeracy and technical ability tests. The main test used by the industry has five areas of assessment, and she failed. I said to the managers that the test strongly suggested that she would fail her college exams. If we took her on and sent her to college, we would be wasting a huge amount of money, and a lot of our time, as well as about a year of her life.

The overwhelming response from the factory floor, from supervisors to senior management was, ‘We want her.’ She had made such an impression in the couple of months she had been with us, that they were all rooting for her. We decided to take the chance.

College
She went to college, struggled a bit, did a bit better and then sat her first exams. Her mother died the day before she wrote her first paper. And I thought, well that’s that. She might have pulled through by some miracle, but that chance has gone. However, the family held back the funeral; she continued to write that week, and passed comfortably. When I left the organisation, she was still flying and she was an asset to the company.  She didn’t fit the norm, but if you want your business to fly, employ someone better than normal.

A general manager
In an NGO I’m involved with we were looking for a General Manager to run the show. It’s an educational NGO so educational boxes had to be ticked; but it’s an NGO, so fundraising is critical. The person we liked didn’t have fundraising experience. We decided to take the risk. And you know what we have discovered over the past ten years? If your organisation is flying, if your organisation is doing extraordinary things, people want to be part of it. Through her passion for the children and her passion for education she has been able to draw an extraordinary team around her creating extraordinary results that (so far) donors have not been able to resist.

Better than normal
Our very normal concern for the very normal area of fundraising could not foresee that her extraordinary mix of passion and abilities, which wouldn’t fit onto a nice normal graph, would enable her to be better than normal and to achieve extraordinary results.

Paul says something similar in his message to the Corinthians about the gifts of the Spirit. And he says the same thing to the Romans and the Ephesians and anyone else he writes to about the gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Focus on the Spirit
The confusion over the gifts and the work of the Spirit that has led to so much anger and bitterness in the Church doesn’t come from Paul. Paul is very clear when he writes about the Spirit. We are the ones who have confused matters. Paul, you see, doesn’t focus on the gifts. Paul focusses on the Spirit who gives the gifts; the Spirit who equips the people of God.

We focus on the gifts
We, on the other hand, focus on the gifts. We think it’s the gifts that are important. (It’s certainly the more spectacular thing; and we love the spectacular.) So we look at what everyone else has got and what everyone else is doing, and we assess ourselves against we think is the ‘norm’; what we think we ought to look like if we have the Spirit. Do we fit the pattern? Do we fit the graph? Are we ‘normal’?

But the work of the Spirit is not normal; it doesn’t fit into a pattern that can be measured and sorted and bottled and charted on a graph.

God is doing extraordinary things through his extraordinary Spirit working through ordinary people. In Acts 2, Peter quotes from the prophet Joel:

‘(17) I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. (18) Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message. (19) I will perform miracles in the sky above and wonders on the earth below. There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke; (20) the sun will be darkened, and the moon will turn red as blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes.  (21) And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’

John van de Laar writes about a new understanding of the book of Acts. He says: ‘(Re-reading Acts) has convinced me that the essence of Pentecost is not the outpouring of the Spirit – as if the Spirit was somehow absent before this day – but the simple, profound changes in the lives of ordinary people whose ordinary lives changed their cities and their world.’

Make us better than normal
You see, it’s not about how many prophets there are or preachers or tongues or this gift or that. But will we welcome the Spirit of God to do whatever he wants to do in us and through us? Not give us this gift or that, but to make us better than normal in our everyday lives, and to do his extraordinary work in us and through us, day after day after day.

Measure
And we can actually measure this extraordinary work of God in our lives. Oh no, not on a graph based on the gifts we have or the power of our preaching or how often we speak in tongues. Not even by the number of people we have converted or how long we spend on our knees.

Paul made it clear in Galatians 5: the measure of the Spirit’s work in our lives and in the life of our community is how much the fruit of the Spirit can be seen in us and experienced in our life together. Is love what we experience here? Is there joy and peace? Are we more patient with each other (and with taxi drivers)? Is there kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness? Is there less anger and more self-control?

1 Corinthians 14:12, ‘Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try above everything else to make greater use of those which help to build up the church.’

And again, in Ephesians 4:12, Paul says the Lord gives these gifts ‘to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.’

Love one another
You see, Jesus told us how the world would be saved, but we tend to ignore him, or not to take him too seriously. Jesus said that the way Christians relate to each other will determine the way the world reacts to our Saviour. (‘By your love for one another ….’  ‘Father, make them one ….’)

It is when the people of God hate each other and fight each other and deride each other, that the world turns its back on the church and on the God we supposedly serve. And it is when the people of God love one another, care for one another and do extraordinary things together that the world looks on in wonder and says, ‘See how they love one another.’

‘What does it mean?’
And then they will go on to ask the question they asked the disciples on the first Christian Pentecost: ‘What does it mean?’

Of course, they might go on to ask, ‘Are they drunk?’ But that’s okay. They are just trying to fit us into the patterns they know and recognise.

In fact, I would rather they asked us if we were drunk. Because I’m very much afraid that the communities around the church today are more likely to ask, ‘Are they alive?’

What do you do?
My friends, let me ask you. What is it that you do that supports the people of God, that encourages individuals, that helps someone who is struggling to take one more step? I encourage you to pray tonight for God to give you an opportunity this week to do just that – whatever it is that you do so well for him already.

What gets in the way?
And then a second prayer: what is it that you do that gets in the way of God’s love in your life and in your community? Are you prone to criticise people? Is there irritation and anger in you? Do you put people down, gossip or fail to notice people. Normal human reactions, I know. But I encourage you to pray with me tonight for God to give us strength this week to say no to whatever it is that divides or hurts or destroys. Just this week, for God to help you and me to be better than normal in the service of the Kingdom.

[Prayer to follow]

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Elijah and the widow of Zarephath: A Sermon


English: Elijah Resuscitating the Son of the W...

English: Elijah Resuscitating the Son of the Widow of Zarephath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week Debs reminded us that God loves us.

Which is really is all we as preachers have to say. God loves you. That’s it. But what does it mean? God’s unconditional love for us means two things. Debs spoke about the one last week, and I want to speak about the other tonight.

God loves our neighbour
Debs said there is nothing you can do to stop God loving you. Nothing. Now, if that is true it means that there is also nothing your neighbour and my neighbour can do to stop God loving them; there is nothing your child can do to stop God loving him or her. There is nothing your irritating brother, your aggressive boss, your worst enemy can do to stop God loving them, nothing. There’s nothing your spouse or even your ex-spouse can do, nothing even the bullies in your child’s class can do, or your son-in-law or daughter-in-law can do.

Not even the stuff we hate about them; not even the really sinful stuff, nothing. God still loves them.

And then he says to you and to me, “Go and do likewise.” “Love your neighbour,” he says. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Love, rather than belief
The fact that our faith is about love, rather than belief, means that Christianity is primarily about relationships rather than practices. Christianity has failed in the world, more often than not, when we have tried to change people’s beliefs and practices before introducing them to the startling, life-changing truth of a God who loves them.

Relationships are messy
And relationships are messy. God knows that. He has chosen to work with the mess of our relationships rather than wave a magic wand. Most of the time things don’t get sorted out instantly. There are difficult people in our lives and broken relationships where you and I may not be able (for now) to bring God’s love. We may be too hurt, too broken, too badly damaged to help these folk, who are perhaps closest to us, to help them recognise God’s love.

Don’t beat yourself
Please, don’t believe those who tell you that you are the only one who can bring your husband, your child, your parents or your boss to Christ; that it’s your job, and if you don’t do it, God will hold you accountable.

That’s not how God works. As Jesus himself said in Luke 4, there were countless widows in Israel at the time of Elijah, but he wasn’t called to minister to any of them. God sent Elijah way off, down to the coast to Sidon, to a widow in the town of Zarephath.

Don’t beat yourself because of the people you find it difficult to love, impossible to transform. Celebrate and enjoy and let the Spirit of God flow through you to those God has enabled you to love. Because you have a fantastic story to tell, a wonderful journey to share, however difficult it’s been: the story of one who loves you and who has shared your journey through joys and sorrows, through days filled with chocolate and sunshine, as well as those filled with rain and Brussels sprouts.

Elijah and the widow
Our readings explain something of how God works.

Elijah was sent by God, in the middle of a severe three-year famine, to Sidon, on the coast, to a widow in the town of Zarephath. God had something to teach the widow, and something to teach Elijah. It was the widow’s turn first.

“I have commanded a widow”
When God sent Elijah to Zarephath, God told him, “I have commanded a widow who lives there to feed you.” But we hear nothing about that command. The widow doesn’t refer to it. She doesn’t say to Elijah, “About time. God said you were coming. I’ve been waiting.”

What happened? I suspect that she had been praying for a while about her desperate shortage of food, and the only verses that kept popping into her head were ones like, “Feed the hungry,” and, “Love your neighbour.” And she thought to herself. “Yeah, right. I can’t even feed my son and myself. I’m afraid my neighbour and your prophet and all the others, are going to have to look after themselves.”

Elijah arrived
Then Elijah arrived asking for bread. And it’s Elijah! It’s not a local prophet; not one of the missionaries her church has been praying for. It’s a prophet from Israel, of all places—way inland. And what’s he doing here in the middle of a drought, coming to eat our food and take our jobs—blooming foreigner.

So the widow says to Elijah, “Sorry mate. You came too late. I’ve got no bread left, only enough ingredients to make a last loaf for my son and me, then we die.”

“Oh, no,” says Elijah.  “Let me phone the care team. We can set up a roster and bring you meals.” No?

Perhaps he said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Please, let me pray for you.” No?

Well, I don’t think any of us would have dared say what Elijah actually said. I think most of us would have said to ourselves, “Oops, must be the wrong widow,” and gone looking for another one with some food to spare.

Elijah’s outrageous request
What Elijah said was outrageous, unreasonable, absurd even.

“No, problem,” He said. “Go ahead, make your last meal. But just make a small loaf for me first; then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son.”

Hello? Elijah? I don’t think you quite grasp the situation here. Maybe it’s a gender thing. I mean, what part of “our last meal before we starve to death,” don’t you understand?

But Elijah carried on. He said, “The LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The bowl will not run out of flour or the jar run out of oil before the day that I, the LORD, send rain.’ ”

The widow could easily have said, “It’s all very well for the God of Israel to say that, but we’re not in Israel. This is Sidon.” But she didn’t. She went and did the preposterous thing Elijah told her to do. And the miracle happened. Neither the flour nor the jar of oil ran out.

A fabulous gift, or a difficult lesson?
Fantastic. Amazing. Flour and oil to see them through to the end of the drought. What a fabulous gift.

Well… I don’t know. Perhaps not so much.

You see, she didn’t get a dozen bags of flour and litres of olive oil. She didn’t get the cell-phone number of the warehouse so she could SMS when supplies got low. Just a promise.

You realise what that meant? It meant that from that day on, until the end of the drought, every meal she prepared was her last. Every day, she would look into the almost empty bowl and the nearly empty jar, and ask whether God would be faithful to her one more day. And every day she would take the little that was left, make some food for her foreign guest (and who knows who else she learned to feed), and then prepare a last meal for her son and herself with what was left.

A daily discovery of God
The widow learned to serve, and she learned to pray. She began a daily discovery of a God who provides; a daily relationship with him. And that’s what God is all about: our relationship with him. No magic; not belief systems, but love; not proper practices, but relationships. Messy, slow, difficult, caring, beautiful relationships. And that’s something to get excited about.

Now it’s Elijah’s turn
But God wasn’t finished with them yet. And now it’s Elijah’s turn.

A little later, we are told, the widow’s son died. She was distraught. “Why did you come here and take my son’s life?” she said to Elijah. “We could have died together when we had no food. Now, I’m alive and he’s gone.”
Or, as The Message puts it, “Why did you ever show up here in the first place — a holy man barging in, exposing my sins, and killing my son?”

Well, that wasn’t part of the script for Elijah. This wasn’t a “Go to a widow in Zarephath. I’ve instructed her to feed you.” What is God doing? He provides food, but takes a life?

Elijah’s prayer
There is nothing Elijah can do except pray. So Elijah prays. And how he prays. You and I are not likely to pray this type of prayer too often.
“O LORD my God, why have you done such a terrible thing to this widow? She has been kind enough to take care of me, and now you kill her son!” Then Elijah stretched himself out on the boy three times and prayed, “O LORD my God, restore this child to life!”

Did God kill the widow’s son as Elijah suggests? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. You see it’s not Elijah’s words that matter, or even his understanding. It’s his passion that God cares about; and his fundamental belief in God’s love and in God’s work of restoring relationships.

Restoring relationships
This is not about bringing people back to life; this is not about extending life here on earth. It’s about restoring relationships.

Elijah said to God, “why have you done such a terrible thing to this widow?” Not “to the son”, but to the widow, to the mother.

When Jesus saw the grieving widow of Nain we read that “his heart was filled with pity for her.” And he restored the son to his mother. He restored the relationship that was broken, that had broken her heart.

Something to get excited about
Friends, God loves your neighbour and mine. Sinful, unhappy, lost, lonely, desperate; trying all sorts of different ways to survive, to find happiness. God loves them all. And of all the desperate and stupid things they are doing, nothing will stop God loving them.

Can you wonder that the crowd was excited by what Jesus did, that the widow was excited by what Elijah did? Isn’t God’s way of restoring relationships something to get excited about?

Instead of trying to fix people, and telling them how to live, couldn’t we just stop for a moment and celebrate the fact that God loves them, right now, messy and messed up as they may be?

A God who brings even the worst of us into relationship with himself; a God who breaks down barriers and restores our relationships with each other. Let’s get excited about that. Who knows what God will do  next.

Something to shout about
In a country like ours, where life is so cheap, where violence is the norm for resolving disputes, where anger is the first resort even for us, whether on the telephone, in our cars or in the bank queue; isn’t God’s way of love and of building relationships something we and our country need to hear about.

So where are you, where am I going to start? Where is God sending us? Is there a widow, and orphan, a broken relationship, a broken life; an unforgiven sin, an unloved sinner? Let’s learn to pray with Elijah’s passion, “Lord, our God, restore this person to life!”

A sermon preached at Prestbury Methodist Church on Sunday, 9 June 2013, followed by the prayer Elijah and the widow of Zarephath: A Prayer

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Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath: A Prayer


Flour and jar of OilLord, we look into the bowl of our lives
and it seems so empty.
The jar of oil has run out;
We have nothing to give,
Nothing to share,
Nothing with which to feed the hungry,
or heal the wounded.

Sometimes we pray as the widow of Zarephath perhaps prayed:
“Oh, no, Lord. Don’t send anyone else.
There’s nothing left to give.”

Lord, forgive our complaints about how empty the bowl is,
our failure to delight in what you have put into our lives.
Forgive our attempts to hoard what you have given us;
Because, Lord, your promises are for today,
not for tomorrow.

You said we should pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
And, while things have sometimes been really tough,
there has always been enough:
Enough food and drink—
often more than enough to share;
Enough joy to give to a neighbour, to a stranger.

You have given us healing, friends, fellow travellers;
those who worship with us today.
And above all, an abundance of your love,
generously, extravagantly given.
Sometimes you pour your love over us;
Sometimes it comes to us through friends and strangers.

Lord, we have so much to give.
Fill our hearts to overflowing
with the generous love of your Spirit.
And in our families, in our neighbourhoods,
in our workplaces,
give us the courage to feed the hungry,
to heal the sick, to restore the broken,
and to allow your Spirit to breathe new life,
new hope and new joy.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen

(Inspired by 1 Kings 17: 8-16)

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A prayer for Pentecost


Mildorfer, Josef Ignaz - Pentecost - 1750s

Mildorfer, Josef Ignaz – Pentecost – 1750s

What is it Lord? What do we celebrate today?

A harvest celebration? The first fruits offered to our God?
Or Pentecost, the first fruits of God’s new order?
Sinai? A celebration of the giving of the law?
Or Pentecost, where Spirit prevails over letter,
And love is not limited by rules?
A new heart; the Spirit of God within us,
Where relationship prevails over rightness,
And brokenness is welcomed over hypocrisy.

Pentecost, the poor cousin of Christian holy days.
There is no bling, no glitzy gifts, no chocolate eggs.
A quiet celebration; but of what, Lord?

Of one of the most spectacular events in history.
God, not confined to Heaven,
God, not confined to the body of one Palestinian man.
God, poured out; God at work in every human being:
All of us, great and small, male and female, rich and poor.

Lord, your Spirit is here—within us and around us.
But where is the fire?
Have we quenched it with our fears and respectabilities?
Where is the noise?
Have we forgotten the momentous news we have to share?
Does no one think we are drunk?
Have we become way too polite and ordinary for that? [1]

Where are the people, all amazed and perplexed?
Do no crowds gather, asking, “What does this mean?”
Is there nothing different about us this day?
Do we blend in with the crowds?
Do we join the crowds pointing fingers at others who are different?
“They are drunk; they are gay; they are loud; they are sinful.”

Lord, send us your Spirit again.
Overwhelm us with your other-ness;
Break the bonds of our conformity.

Fill us with an expectation of outpouring,
A desire to proclaim your message
And a passion for the peoples of the world.

In Jesus’ name.
AMEN


[1] Inspired by Jack Levison, After the Jelly Beans Are All Gone Comes Pentecost 

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A pregnancy, a donkey, and an update


A visitThe Internet is a place full of shadows. People come and go; they visit this blog as I visit others. One or two leave a comment, which is a most welcome and tangible sign of their visit.  But most leave no more than an echo; something the system picks up to say that someone was here, visiting this page.  Who they were and how long they stayed; whether they were challenged, horrified or simply indifferent, the echo doesn’t say; they are simply shadows.

I wrote the story, “A pregnancy, a donkey, and a whole bunch of questions” for an Advent service on 28 November 2010, and I posted it here two days later.  There wasn’t much interest that year, and only 210 visitors looked at the story in the whole of 2011.  This year, 2012, must be the year of the donkey, or the journey, or whatever, because 245 people viewed the story in November alone, and another 280 in December so far.

No doubt many of those who came, left with nothing more than a quick glance.  Others perhaps stayed to read the story. What I’m interested in is whether someone out there has tried to use the story themselves somewhere else.

I used it again last Sunday at another church here in Pietermaritzburg.  The response was very good, with the general comment being, “It finished too soon. I want to hear what comes next.”

Telling storiesIt’s not often a preacher gets asked for more!  Which is why I believe that we should tell more stories.  There are risks in telling stories, which we don’t always want to take. With a sermon we lay the foundation, prepare the listeners, and then we draw them to the main point.  The message (we hope) is clear, and it can be summarised in a few words.

A story is its own message.  There is usually (as in the great stories of the Bible) an overall message of God’s grace, of God’s involvement in the world, of our struggle with God’s call, etc., but how people connect with the story is out of our hands.

In this story of Mary and Joseph’s journey, it is not the dialogue or their assumptions that matter.  The key is simply recognising that the conversation took place; that Mary and Joseph were real people like us, who would have asked the same questions we ask, with the same fears.  Yet they found a way to engage with God, and to trust him for the impossible future to which he was calling them.

When we begin to understand the people of the Bible in this way, as their experience and their encounter with God becomes more real to us (and more like ours), we can more readily engage with their story, and their story becomes our story.  We can no longer ignore the challenge that their lives present; we can no longer say “well, it was all very well for them….” It wasn’t all very well at all.  Yet as they listened and responded to God’s challenge, they began to reflect God’s glory, and their light still shines for us today.

Their story is no longer a fairy tale of otherworldly people, whose feet don’t quite touch the ground, and whose eyes are constantly raised heavenward. They are people like us. God took his chance with them, as he does with us. He loved them in their misunderstanding and lack of faith, as he loves us. He reached out to them when they were farthest away from him, as he does to us. They had the same questions we have, and God answered them as he seeks to answer us.

What has been your experience of story?  Do they help or hinder your journey?

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Beggars on the street: to give or not to give


My friend over at Wondering Pilgrim wrote a post this morning called “Peace is a Pair of Shoes” (you can find it here).  He discusses the perennial problem of giving, and the questions raised when we give to the poor; or rather the questions we raise before we give to the poor, such as, Should I? Shouldn’t I?  Is this the right person?  Is this the best way to help?

They are good questions.  I don’t know about other parts of the world, but here at the bottom end of Africa traffic lights are overflowing with outstretched arms.  Some are empty; some hold a placard, “Plees help! No work! God bless!”  Other entrepreneurial souls offer sunglasses, plastic coat hangers, toys and Christmas hats.

Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  As always we would like definitive answers, wouldn’t we?  We need a formula so that whenever we are tapped on the shoulder or tapped on the heart, we can put the situation through the flow diagram and get the answer.  To give or not to give?

My rule is a simple one.  Don’t give to beggars on the street.  Yes, there are some who genuinely cannot find work, or whose disability precludes them from every form of income, and who are reduced to begging.  But there are too many others whose begging supports an addiction I am not willing to fund.  And the genuinely needy cases?  They are better helped through welfare groups and non profits, which are better equipped than I to identify the real needs of the community, and to make good use of my meagre offerings.

There, that was easy, wasn’t it?  The problem of the poor, sorted, and boxed and put away, nicely out of sight.  Except that Jesus didn’t treat the poor as a “problem”, did he?  He reached out to real people who were poor and broken, and lost and hungry.  He didn’t say to his followers, “Seek answers to the questions of life.”  He said, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

Jesus doesn’t give us or ask us to find answers, does he?  It’s the questions that are important.  There is never going to be an answer to the “problem of the poor”, or the lost, or the lonely, or the broken or the captive, just questions.  What does it mean to be a neighbour in this situation, for this person, on this day?  What does it mean for me to love, here and now?

Does that mean I must scrap my rule, and give to every beggar I meet?  That would be another “answer” rather than a question, wouldn’t it?  “Give” is just as simplistic as “Don’t give”.  We are still looking for an answer, a rule; and we are not going to get one.  

Jesus doesn’t appear to us in formulae and flow diagrams; he comes to us as a human being.
“Which one?” we would like to know.  “Will we recognise him?”
Not many did then, why should it be any different now?
“What does he look like?”
Well, he comes as a baby (illegitimate at that), a child, a workman, a wandering rabbi, a blasphemer and a criminal—a traitor against church and state, a man on a cross.  We certainly won’t recognise him if we resolutely avoid eye contact.  No, we are not required to give every beggar whatever he or she wants, any more than God gives his children everything they want, but we are called to notice, to be aware. 

The point about the Good Samaritan was that he didn’t ask, “Who is my neighbour?”  He looked for opportunities to be a neighbour.  Your opportunities will be different from mine, because we are different, and our circumstances are different.  But if we keep our heads up, and if we are willing to risk looking people in the eye and asking God to reveal himself to us, the opportunities will come.  And the love of God, not the answers about God, will begin to flow more freely though us and in us.

Are you afraid?  I am, but if that’s where God is at work, isn’t that where we want to be?

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