July 2022

Sunday 3rd July, 2022:  St. Thomas:  John 20  24-29

Now Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, His disciples were once again inside with the doors locked, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas has gone down in history because he ‘doubted’ – he wouldn’t accept that Jesus had risen from the dead until he actually saw him.  So easy for us, with hindsight, to think we would have accepted what he had been told by the other disciples, but Jesus knew that Thomas needed to be reassured;  he needed to see for himself before he would believe the unbelievable.  It’s not easy to have faith when things seem impossible – to trust in God when difficulties continue, or problems seem to go unresolved.  Yet God himself knows our concerns and worries – he understands us and is ready to give us the reassurance we need and the strength to continue. 

If you feel you are in this situation now – ask God for his help, not just to solve the problems, but to feel his presence surrounding you each day. 

 

Sunday 10th July, 2022: Trinity 4: Luke 10 25-37

One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus took up this question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down the same road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So too, when a Levite came to that spot and saw him, he passed by on the other side. But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and on my return I will repay you for any additional expense.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” “The one who showed him mercy,” replied the expert in the law. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This well-known parable Jesus told would have been immediately understood by his listeners.  The ones who passed by without helping represented specific sections of their society – and the Samaritan who stopped to administer aid was from a people who were despised and ignored.  It must have been quite a wake-up call for them.

Are we too ignoring our ‘neighbours’ on a daily basis as that is what is considered normal in our daily busy lives?  Can we knock on a neighbour’s door to check they are all right, rather than leaving it to ‘someone else’? Should we be more aware of the problems facing that young mum struggling to shop with a screaming toddler in tow? Less quick to condemn when people stop coming to church – possibly because of mobility problems? God calls us to follow him 24/7 – not just on a Sunday at a service and he wants us to be aware of each other’s needs all the time.

 

Sunday 17th July: Trinity 5: Luke 10  39-42

As they travelled along, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His message.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations to be made. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things.  But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was, to us, justifiably cross as she was slaving away preparing to welcome and look after their visitor whilst Mary just sat doing ‘nothing’ – except that Mary was listening – trying to take in all that Jesus was saying and teaching, possibly knowing that she needed to seize every opportunity to do so. We all need to prioritise in our lives, and it’s so easy to work our way through our To Do list, ticking things off as they are dealt with, but perhaps missing opportunities to get to know Jesus better – taking time to listen so that we know where he wants us to be going and doing. 

Can you give even five minutes today to be quiet and let God lead you and surround  you with his love and peace?  Five minutes out of 1,440?!

 

Sunday 24th July: Trinity 6: Luke 11 1-13

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you goes to his friend at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,  because a friend of mine has come to me on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Do not bother me. My door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up to provide for him because of his friendship, yet because of the man’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Jesus wanted his disciples to know how important it was – and is – to let God talk to us – to listen to Him, to spend time with him.  And he gave them the blueprint for how to do this – the Lord’s Prayer as we know it.  These words have been used by millions and millions of people since then, bringing comfort, peace, understanding, a source of power and help.  Prayer doesn’t have to be long and complicated – God hears every word we say be it short and simple or longer and deeper-felt. 

God wants us to talk to him, to tell him about our successes, our failures, our fears, and to ask him for help – and he wants to respond to our requests.  But he can’t do so until we ask – and listen. 

 

Sunday 31st July: Trinity 7: Luke 12 13-21

 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed Me judge or executor between you?”  And He said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourselves against every form of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Then He told them a parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced an abundance.  So he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, since I have nowhere to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and will build bigger ones, and there I will store up all my grain and my goods. Then I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!” ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?’ This is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”

There is nothing wrong in working hard and trying to look after yourself and your family – provided of course that this isn’t the only thing you do with your life and with your possessions.  Everything we have in this world – the means to grow what we need to eat, the beauty all around us, the seasons bringing nourishment for crops and replenishment for what we use – this all comes from God.  He wants us to enjoy all he has provided – but not to keep it just for ourselves, but to cherish it and share it with others.

Can you share what you have with someone this week?  Buying a coffee for someone sleeping rough? Sharing your smile with a worried-looking stranger? Contributing to one of the many food banks in supermarkets?  We have so much – and there’s enough for everyone if we aren’t greedy.

 

 




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