Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Living out of the promise

Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent, March 12th 2006. Genesis 17:1-7,15-16; Psalm 22:24-32;Romans 4:13-25;Mark 8:31-38
I had a conversation recently
with a friend
an ex-Roman Catholic who now claims to be a Buddhist:
“Do you think," he asked me, “that the great religions will ever get together on the question of reincarnation?”
I don’t, and told him that.
“Reincarnation to me is a message of hopelessness” I said, “We need to do something more with life, than to just keep on repeating it!”
He added that “there was something appealing” about the notion of the great reckoning...and that he didn’t like the Catholic idea of death bed repentance
His background showed a flaw in the teaching of his childhood
but, to my mind, he arrived at the wrong conclusions!
We do not believe that God reckons up our good deeds against the bad
This we call-law
But rather that we are called to enter into a relationship of faith
That is, we act on the promise of God.
God promises. and we act on that promise.
The promise to Abraham
For Abraham, God promises
quite specifically
that he will be
the ancestor of a great nation.
This is not an insignificant promise to a man who is 99 who has a wife who is 90!
Abraham then is able to keep moving forward in his life
even though he could have been forgiven for thinking that his life was over
What is God promising to us?
To be able to shift from the life of law
to the life of faith
we need to get beyond
just keeping the rules.
Do we understand what God is promising ?
As we look at the Gospels we see, as in today’s reading
that it takes something of a struggle to get it right. Peter as a character shows us something of that
Occasional flashes of inspiration
contrasted with legalism and even,
dare one say it, stupidity
Or the stupidity that is legalism!!
We should take note because we are often guilty of this ourselves.
We lose sight of the promise
and then fall back on our version of things.
But if, and as, we listen to the Gospel
we hear not the message of legalism
but rather a counter-cultural message
which at once consoles us and then deeply confronts us.
If any want to become my disciples, let them deny themselves and take up their cross.
Hang on a minute
doesn’t common sense tell us
that we should do what makes us feel good
or what is going to pay dividends?
Perhaps it does
but faith tells us otherwise.

We know much of what faith tells us about the way we should live our lives
..Forgive over and over again..
...the sacrifice of God is a broken heart..
...lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth….all very counter cultural.

Personal promise, personal faith
What is God promising to you personally?
The promise to Abraham is a personal one
about what will happen to him and his family
Do you know what God is saying to you about the reality of your day to day life?
Have you taken time to listen?
Are you interested?
Ask that question today?
And use this week as a time of spiritual exercise to try and talk to God about it?
The answer changes the dynamic
of how we live our life.
If we hear the answer,
and if we respond in faith
then God can help us move beyond legalism
to a new lifestyle.
Paul says of Abraham...this life style is “reckoned to him as righteousness”
That is, it puts you right with God.
This is why we do it.

So, this week, as you think about your life
also ask God
...what do you promise to me?
And take some time to clarify that
and write it down.
And choose, not to live out of the rules (alone)
but to live out of faith

A short exercise to help you do this is listed below

Living out of the Promise

  • Sit quietly and close your eyes
  • As you give yourself to this time closing your eyes is an act of commitment to going within and paying attention to the voice of God
  • After a few minutes ask God to reveal to you the promise that he makes to you about you and your life
  • Take some time to note this
  • Think about one or two things that this will immediately mean you need to do as you choose to live out of the promise
  • Give thanks to God and conclude by saying this act of praise: Glory to God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now and forever. Amen

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