Homily by Fiona Hailes - Luke 12: 32-40 (7th August 2022)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Throughout chapter 12 of Luke gospel, Jesus has used parables to teach the disciples lessons. Last week we heard about the brother who wanted more from his inheritance and the farmer who hoarded all his grain but had no one to leave it to.
Todays gospel is in two sections, it starts with a reminder of the same theme from last weeks gospel. Verse 33 says ‘sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourself that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys’. This passage is telling us to equipment ourselves for heaven and not store all our possessions on earth. Not to worry about what we have but if we dedicate ourselves to God, he will provide for us.
I have been known for worrying about the smallest of things and sometimes missing the bigger picture due to overthinking the small things. We can all be caught out by worry and miss what is happening in front of us.
In the second part of the passage, Jesus again uses a parable to warn us about not being ready, not being wary about what is happening around us. Verse 36 says ‘like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him’.
I have heard that if you live to be seventy years old, you will spend three years of your life just waiting. Waiting in line at the shopping centre, waiting in the doctor's, waiting for lunch to be ready, waiting for break time at work or school.
There is a book by Dr Seuss, "Oh, the Places You'll Go," in this book there is a place called "the waiting place." Dr Seuss describes it as a useless place where people are just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Everyone, everywhere, in every age waits. Jesus does not eliminate waiting. If anything, it sounds like just the opposite. He tells the crowd, “Be like those waiting for their master to return.”
No- one like waiting if we don’t know what we are waiting for or for how long.
Today’s gospel is not, however, simply about passing time. It is about presence and being present. Jesus sees waiting as an act of faithfulness; the promise of things hoped for, the belief of things not seen.
Jesus is teaching us how and where to wait. He’s inviting us to be present to the One who is always already present. He’s inviting us to listen for the knock, to watch, and to be alert. He’s inviting us to be present to the reality of God in each other, in the world, and in ourselves. This is the God who is present in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, even in our waiting.
We might be tempted to ask, “So where is God in all our waiting?” But maybe the better question is, “Where are we?”
I am useless at waiting, I like to feel like I have control, so waiting for something takes that away from me. Waiting can boring and we can be tempted to drift away, daydream, sleep or be lazy. I went on a church retreat a couple of years ago and found myself complaining that there was too much free time, waiting for the next talk. What I didn’t recognise is that this time was not given to us for waiting but given to us for reflecting, for being present, to be with God.
So he says in verse 35, “Be dressed for action. Something is going on right now. Right here. And I want you to be a part of it. Come participate. For it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This is for you.”
“Have your lamps lit,” he says. “There is something to see. Move out of the darkness. Come into the light. See what is right in front of you, what is all around you, and what is in within you. For the Father wants you to have the kingdom.”
“Be alert,” he commands. But this isn’t a threat. It’s an invitation to be blessed. “Blessed are those whom he finds alert.” Jesus is not just inviting us to be awake, to be ready, and to be watchful. He is calling us to be fully alive and to remain alive. Blessing and life are equal in God’s kingdom. It is as if Jesus is saying to us, “Be alert, be blessed, and I will come and serve you. I will feed you the bread of life. I will serve you the cup of salvation.”
This passage gives us two things to reflect on over the next week
Firstly in verse 34 ‘for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ therefore we should invest the things that make us happy in God and not in worrying about material things.
Secondly in verse 40 ‘you must be ready, because the son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ so be on your guard, be ready in prayer and attitudes for the day the lord comes to bless us.
Lord give us strength for our waiting, give us wisdom to stay alert and give us Joy in our processions. Amen
Homily by Revd Ray Railton - Trinity 6
Today’s gospel reading appears to have two main themes, one of prayer and one of persistent demands on a friend and neighbour for help in times of trouble. In fact the two themes are very closely linked together and ask us to consider our own attitude to praying to Father God.
The disciples have often witness Jesus moving away from the crowd, leaving the house, ascending a hill to be alone and witness him praying to his Father in heaven. It is not really surprising that they, his close followers ask him to teach them how to pray. They mention that John the Baptist taught his followers how to pray. None of this would appear strange to the Jews at the time as in their Synagogues the Pharisees would teach them to say the Kaddish. Parents then and today have often taught their children various sayings, nursery rhymes and even prayers. Although I am not sure that lots of parents teach their children prayers to recite. We of a certain age may well remember being taught to say a simple prayer at mealtimes, “For what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful Amen”. Remind you of your school days? The prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer given to his disciples has some similarities to the Kaddish but Jesus has put his own spin on it and to give it a new meaning for his followers. The Jews would not refer to God as Father but Jesus encourages his disciples and us today to use the word Father in our Prayers. Our Father is the translation we use and has that wonderful significance for us all, that God is Father of all. Some people today declare that they are “Christians but I don’t go to church”. Saying Our Father recognises that we are a collection of Christians, how can anyone be a private Christian and say “Our Father”
After giving his disciples this prayer he moves on to illustrate being just as persistent in prayer as the person repeatedly knocking at the door of a friend for help. Jesus uses part of his own prayer to illustrate the point he is trying to make by asking the friend for bread at the most unsociable hour. The Jewish tradition as part of the Law of Moses is to supply the needs of those in trouble, but the friend first replies “Do not bother me, the door has already been locked, and my children are in bed with me”. Jesus says because of the persistence of the man knocking on the door he will eventually get up and see to his needs.
A bit like our very young children that repeatedly ask for the most incredible things at times with no understanding about costs or availability. We pray for the world as if God does not know or understand what is going on but still we are encouraged to be persistent in our prayers and keep knocking on the door because Jesus tells us that the door will be opened to us.
There is however an onus on us to be really grounded and serious about our prayers and the way in which we pray. Jesus always went to a quiet place to pray, a place where he could be away from the world around him so that he could concentrate on being in the presence of Father God.
The question for all Christians is how do we pray, where do we pray, where we can give all our attention to our prayers. Do we find that space and time to bring ourselves in God’s presence or do we just rattle a list of requests off and hope that they will be answered. God knows each one of us and he knows what is happening to us, our family, our neighbours and the world as a whole but that is no excuse for not asking for God’s help in providing solutions to our requests.
The Lord’s prayer is said in nearly all of the services in church and sung on many occasions but do we just repeat it without giving it a thought. The words praise God, ask for a our daily bread, asks for forgiveness, commits us to forgive others, asks that we are not tempted to do wrong things but help us when we do.
When I was in training I read this and made a note of it.
Pray, and let God worry. Martin Luther, 16th century