Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mystery and intrigue

Readings for Sunday 22nd October 2006, Pentecost 20, (Proper 29) Job 38:1-24; Psalm 104:1-26; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:32-45. These readings can be read progressively through the week to prepare you for Sunday

Is the "mystery of suffering" revealed this week? (See Job 38)
I don't pretend that the "answer" that the book of Job gives to the purpose, cause and meaning of suffering
is ultimately satisfying.
It does however point us to an ultimate reality or two!
We do not comprehend everything.
We live under the misapprehension
that everything is ultimately knowable.
If only we can get enough information
or if we can gain enough experience
then we will utimately arrive at the answer.
The story of Job suggests to us that this is not entirely true.
We will never understand the mystery of God
how he creates, renews, restores
The best we can hope for is, like some sort of calculus,
to draw close to the absolute limit of our understanding
but we never reach the complete finality.
Entering into the mystery
The gospel passage though gives us another way in
To James and John who quite miss the point of what life with Christ might be like
and seem to think that it is about some sort of power play
Jesus says "Can you be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?"
When this question is asked they glibly say "Of course!"
But one must wonder if they would have spoken so boldly on Good Friday
or 20 or more years later.
What Jesus is reminding us in this passage is that there is a cost involved
and we might say we understand the mystery of life
as we engage with it.
It is necessary to enter into the mystery
it is not an idea
it is an experience.
It is not a series of theologies
it is relationship.
Thisis evident to me when mistering to those at great points of difficulty
like grief, or relationship breakdown
or depression
I am sometimes led to say that this sort of experience
is an extraordinary pportunity as well as an enormous difficulty.
Quite often people affirm this insight after the event.
It is, after all, another way of stating the mystery of the cross.
If we are to look at how God operates then we should turn to the powerful events of our faith
We will be brought to the point
where our life might be extinguished
and we can choose to encounter this
as Jesus does
and in so doing
we pass through it and are transformed
or we can play religious, theological, or philosophical games about God
when we are actually being called to encounter the reality of God.

Where is Jesus calling you to respond to challenge and the Cross?
What are the practical demands that this places on my life?
Pray for the courage to accept this challenge.

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