06 October 2024

Human beings are not created to live alone, but for connection, community and relationship. Our relationships are not just with one another, but with the God who created us as well. But, all of these relationships are destroyed when we become unfaithful, or we when we allow our commitments to be weakened or broken by life’s turmoil, or by our own hardness of heart. But, when we remain faithful, our relationships become the place where we experience the grace and salvation of God, and where the Reign of God is dramatically revealed.

May our worship lead us deeper into faithful commitment to God and one another this week.

Job 1:1, 2:1-10: The Adversary (CEB) challenges God, saying that Job only stays faithful because God has not allowed Job to be harmed – even though the Adversary has already taken so much from Job. Then God allows the Adversary to afflict Job, as long as he spares Job’s life. But, even though Job gets very sick with a skin disease, and though his wife tells him to curse God, he refuses to give up on his faith.
OR Genesis 2:18-24: God seeks to provide a companion for the man, so he brings all the animals for the man to name, but no companion is found. Then God creates woman, and the man celebrates her, as one like himself.

Psalm 26: The Psalmist pleads with God to save and protect him, because he has stayed away from foolish and evil people, preferring to spend time in God’s house and to bless God in the congregation.
OR Psalm 8: God is majestic, yet notices human beings, making them just a little lower than the angels and putting them over all of creation as God’s stewards.

Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12: God has spoken, as never before, through Jesus Christ, who was made a little lower than angels for a time in order to lead human beings – whom he calls sisters and brothers – to salvation.

Mark 10:2-16: The religious leaders challenge Jesus on whether it is acceptable to divorce one’s wife. Jesus says that the law allowed it only because of our hard hearts, but that if someone divorces and remarries, they commit adultery. Then, when the disciples scold those who bring children to Jesus to be blessed, Jesus stops them and tells them that God’s kingdom belongs to those who are like children, and that if we don’t welcome children, we cannot be part of God’s Reign.

The connections in this week’s Lectionary are fascinating and challenging. While Job suffers innocently under his affliction, he remains faithful, even as the Psalmist, in Psalm 26, pleads with God for deliverance from suffering. The call to faithfulness, though, extends beyond just our tough times. It reaches into our families, and our attitudes, both to creation and to the God who made it. In Genesis, the man is given a fitting companion – a woman – with whom to work as stewards of creation. The miracle, as Psalm 8 reflects, is that these human beings have been made a little lower than angels, and crowned with glory. As much as this is primarily true for the one who fulfilled humanity’s purpose – Jesus – it is also true for all those who are called by Jesus to share in God’s salvation and glory. So, as stewards of creation, and children of God, we are called to faithful devotion to God, and care of all that God has made. Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks about how faithfulness to God must be reflected in our treatment of others. Our relationship with our spouses is not to be lightly discarded – even when it gets tough (as with Job and his wife) – but to be nurtured, sustained and honoured. So, too the place of our children in God’s Reign must be nurtured and honoured, both for their sakes and for our own – for our hearts need to learn childlikeness in order to follow Jesus.

The message of the Lectionary, this week, then, is focussed on relationships as a reflection of our place in God’s Reign, and of our faithfulness to the ways of God. When we remain faithful to Jesus, our relationships will enjoy the benefits and blessings of our faithfulness, and, in the healing and unity that our relationships bring, we will grow more faithful in touching the world with the grace and salvation of God.

Global Application:
Family relationships are an important foundation in the well-being of society. These relationships can be broken down in two ways – through moral and ethical choices that undermine monogamy, fidelity and compassionate child care, and through rigid, one-dimensional definitions of family that ignore the realities and challenges of today’s world, and that keep God’s grace from those who seek to create faithful monogamous families outside of the “norm”. Both lack grace, and both fail to reflect God’s love and compassion in the way that family relationships were intended to. However, when we graciously celebrate and support those who seek to build faithful relationships, and create meaningful and stable families in whatever form they may take, they reveal God’s grace, and help to provide a strong foundation for a faithful and compassionate society. Our faithfulness in working for justice and in building God’s grace, then, is necessarily and powerfully reflected in how we work for support, recognition and resources to build strong, faithful and life-giving relationships in our world, especially in the family context. This means we are called to support at-risk children, orphans and child-headed families however we can. It also means we are called to sustain good, committed and faithful relationships, ensuring that intimacy, mutual care and self-giving become the norm, rather than the exception in our communities. Anytime we fight against legislation that makes committed relationships (of any kind) harder, we risk standing against the relational call of the Gospel, and we risk becoming contributors to the injustice in our world.

Local Application:
In every community there are families in need of care and support. Many of these families are ignored because the way they do family life is different from the narrow definitions we generally consider “normal.” And so families break down, and society is harmed, and one of the best pictures we have of God’s love and commitment to human beings is distorted. When we can begin to offer guidance, care, support, and love for all families, and allow them to reach their full potential in Christ, not only do they benefit, but our community grows stronger, more loving and more aware of God’s grace, as these families again become the parables God intended them to be. In addition, when we work to sustain the integrity and faithfulness of our own families and communities, even when it is hard and we are threatened or suffering, we reflect the grace and glory of God to the world. When we recognise that our love and faithfulness to God must overflow into love and faithfulness to each other, we are able to open ourselves to the presence and strength of God that sustains us, and we are able to enter all of our relationships with the self-giving of Christ, and with the intentionality to commit, to connect, and to grow into deeper intimacy and faithfulness together.

Divine Lover
The Family You Have Given
May We Be

Hymn Suggestions:
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Fairest Lord Jesus
Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Always Forever (Link to YouTube video)
How Can I Keep From Singing (Link to YouTube video)
The Power Of Your Love (Link to YouTube video)
I’m So Secure (Link to YouTube video)

A Liturgy for Communion

Video Suggestions:
Two Shall Become One Flesh