Tag: epiphany 4B

L.I.F.E

Sermon, Epiphany 4B, Sunday January 28, 2018  

St Petri, 10.30 service

 

1 Corinthians 8: 1-13

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.[a]

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

How do we Christians use our God given freedom to look after each other – especially when we disagree on something?

“Knowledge puffs up while love builds up”, says Paul to the troubled Corinthian Christians. So, we need to acknowledge that when we disagree on a belief and its practice we are capable of being puffed up like a big Cane Toad and not looking after each other very well!

It is possible to know everything but to love nothing. It is possible to be a genius in some area of human knowledge but be no more than a “noisy gong; a clanging cymbal”, as Paul says later on in chapter 13.

It is one thing to know a lot about a thing, it is another thing to use that knowledge to love others who don’t know much about that thing.

It is one thing to have a great family, a great property, a great history and place in the community, it is another to use that name and place and status to love those who don’t.

It is a great gift to have a privileged place of freedom and joy in this community of Christ, it is another thing to share it, give it away and build others up into these gifts with those who don’t see themselves as part of the church or are just different.

There is an issue that the Corinthian Christians had to face in their day. It was difficult because of their past, their culture and who made up the congregation.

It was the problem of eating food that has already slaughtered in the service/worship of various gods (little ‘g’).

In the ancient world, there was literally a god in every shop, on every corner of town, in every park, and in every home – and not just one or the same but many and different gods.

We still have this to a degree. Ever noticed a Buddha statue in a shop with a bowl of fruit near it?

In Geraldton in the West, a lot of Vietnamese people came to that place in the 80’s. If you go there today in the market garden part of town you will see bowls of fruit and nuts etc at the farm gate. These are an offering to a god to ensure prosperity, a good crop, protection from evil and fertility.

If you were offered that banana by a friendly market gardener there, would you eat it? Should a holy, loved baptised person of Christ eat lamb (on Australia Day!) that has been slaughtered in honour and with prayer to a god?

The Corinthian Christians said, “Yes”. We are free in Christ. They seemed to know what Jesus said. He said that nothing from outside a person can make him unclean or acceptable to God. It is only what comes out of the wayward heart of a person that makes him unclean – thigs like hatred, malice envy, lust and etc…(Mark 7:15). In other words, “Yes”.

Paul agrees. A piece of beef is a piece of beef.  It does not matter if that meat was offered as a sacrifice to a false god in a pagan temple or home or park.  Eating it will not hurt you.  This is because there’s no actual power in it to do damage to you.  Why?, Because gods (little ‘g’) are not God. They are just speechless, action-less, lifeless “things of stone and wood”.

But Paul has to say more. The Corinthians are not only right about their freedom, they are very proud of their freedom. Too proud. They think they know it all and that simply knowing a lot is the goal of their faith; as if Christianity was simply about being the smartest, and most right! It isn’t. Christianity is a relationship of trust in Jesus’ word with others. It is what you do with your knowledge for others that is the goal.

They have turned their freedom in Jesus into a weapon that is damaging those who don’t share all their knowledge or who find this issue of eating meat sacrifices to idols very difficult.

Some of the people in the congregation have only recently come from this pagan culture of idol worship. It is how they grew up. They have been taught all their lives to pay off the gods for the sake of themselves, their families, their farms and their society.

But now they hear and believe that “there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live” (v6), and that all those little gods are actually “…nothing at all in the world” (v 4).

Paul says that eating a chicken probably sacrificed to an idol by the butcher from which you purchased it in the privacy of your own home with people you know and who share your understanding of freedom to do so is one thing. But eating that chook at the church pot-luck lunch with new converts or people who have a tender conscience about it is another thing.

What if you, long standing Christian person with a substantial knowledge of the Word and experience in living as a disciple of Jesus that enables you to enjoy the freedom of eating any food at congregation pot luck lunch is seen eating this meat already sacrificed to an idol by a fellow believer who does not share your confidence, your understanding or experience? Wouldn’t eating that meat sacrificed to an idol confuse your brother or even encourage him to go back to what he used to always do which is going against the Lord’s will?

See how knowledge of the freedom you have in Jesus’ love without love for the different person, especially a fellow Christian and especially a more vulnerable person can have a harmful effect on that person?

Let’s use a real-life example that we are facing to see how Christian freedom works for us now…

What about the issue of how we re-shape this building in our mission? There is disagreement about this. It is a similar to food issue for the Corinthians because;

  1. It has no effect on our standing before the Lord as his loved people – that is already sure.
  2. We are within our right and quite free to disagree about it.

Most of us want to make that plan happen, but a significant number do not.

Again, hear Paul on using our freedom here;

But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Changing this building in the way suggested will not bring us closer to God or take us further away from him. We are no worse off as God’s loved people if we do not build and no better off when it comes to  our standing before the Lord if we do.

Then how do we proceed? This is how Luther understood Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians:

  1. Christians have complete freedom and power over everything, and are under no obligation to anyone.
  2. Christians are servants of all, and are under complete obligation to everyone.                        Martin Luther: Freedom of the Christian

So, we are free and yet bound. We have rights, and yet we called to lay them done in service. We have knowledge of much, but we are called to use these to love each other (especially the vulnerable) so that our knowledge, our rights, our freedom are in the service of love for each other.

This year as the conversation goes on, I believe Paul (and Luther) would prompt us to ask the only question that really matters for free people in Christ who disagree on anything: “What is the loving thing to do?” – loving for us and loving for those who do not know the freedom and joy of Christ yet.

Or, how do we use our knowledge of our freedom in Jesus, our gifts from him, his considerable resources he has passed down to us to love him and love others more fully when it comes to deciding on how best to make use of this facility?

If our knowledge, experience, status and freedom is to serve love, then how do we do this disagreeing and finding one mind to move forward in?

For Paul, this is how:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Be “careful” be “full of care” for each other. That is how we go about living with each other in Christ and making decisions about thing on which we have a difference of opinion. We use our knowledge and experience in the service of love. Why? Because we are completely free to do so and we are completely bound together in this.

Friends, I hear today that being a Christian is not about winning over another person but about loving another person win, lose a draw, just as the Lord loves us when we win, when we lose and when we break even.

We love, we serve, we even sacrifice ourselves for each other and then we are a beautifully played cymbal in this orchestra called St Petri, and a wonderfully sounding gong that indicates God’s time, God’s will, God’s welcome invitation.

Let’s know a lot but let’s use what we know to love even more. Then we will be Living In Freedom Everyday!

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

1 Corinthians 8: 1-13

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.[a]

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Read through the text slowly and deliberately keeping two questions in mind:

  1. What captures my mind/imagination; what do I find hard to skip over
  2. If there was a biblical scholar in the room, what questions would I ask.

 

This text is Paul teaching how Christian freedom in the church works. The issue he focusses on is a tricky one – especially for Jewish Christians in the congregation. The prevailing culture regularly offered food/produce to the many gods that were named/worshipped. They did this to find prosperity, wellbeing, blessing, protection, a good harvest and fertility.

For a Jewish person to eat meat that had been already offered to the gods was unthinkable. Animals needed to be slaughtered in a certain way. All blood had to be drained from the animal. Jewish people could not eat blood. Blood was the essence of a life and very much the Lord’s domain alone. But there was also the association with braking the first commandment (idolatry) – to not love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength, or, to not trust the Lord for your prosperity, protection and blessing.

For non-Jewish people, it was still a problem. They grew up with many gods and the offering of many sacrifices to appease the many gods. Then they were taught that there is only one God (Father, Son and Spirit) and that all other gods are nothing but things of stone and wood. Idols have no power over you and are not worth appeasing!

But he Corinthian Christians knew this and they rightly knew they were free in Christ to eat and drink whatever was on offer – whether or not it had been sacrificed to idols or not.

What do you think about the example of a Vietnamese family offering you a banana from the little bowl of fruit next to their statue of Buddha? Would you eat the banana, or would you have to abstain because you felt you were too closely associating with their false belief in a false god?

To help the reflection along, read the next passage 1 Corinthians 9:19ff.

Also read Mark 7:15ff, Matthew 15:17-20. re Jesus’ words about this subject.

Note your conclusions on this…..

 

 

Can you see the problem of the misuse of freedom that Paul is trying to highlight? He says that not everyone shares the same understating or experience in the Christian faith.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

So, from the example in the sermon, you as a mature Christian who know you are free to eat whatever food do so in a public setting (church pot-luck lunch) but there are new Christians there who know that the food has been sacrificed to an idol and they are very confused or even emboldened to take up their old pagan practices of doing the same which leads the back to a belief in many gods and having to appease the gods by doing things (keeping the Law). Or you deeply offend the Jewish Christian who cannot but see a too close association with unclean idol worship.

What do you think Paul is saying to help the Corinthians do this differently? If Paul were at the lunch, what would he urge you and I to do as we eat and drink in the presence of those different to us or ‘weaker’ in conscience?

Note your thoughts as you re-read Paul’s words – including Chapter 9:19ff

 

I used the issue of whether or not we as a congregation re-shape our church building along the lines of the plan give last year as a real life test of how we live our freedom as brothers and sister in Christ. Like eating food sacrificed to idols, it has no bearing on our standing with the Lord. We are free if we do build or don’t build and is not a matter of salvation at all. It is adiaphoron – neither right or wrong.

How do we exercise our freedom in Christ not relying on mere human knowledge – which Paul says will just puff us all up. When we are puffed up with prised we get angry and we hurt each other.

What, in your view, from this Word, makes all the difference and helps us use our freedom carefully and avoid getting puffed up?

 

What does this little quote from Martin Luther mean for you, or what does it direct you to do as a part of Jesus’ church at St Petri?

Christians have complete freedom and power over everything, and are under no obligation to anyone

Christians are servants of all, and are under complete obligation to everyone.

Martin Luther: Freedom of the Christian

Ask the Spirit to show you what action you may need to take or what attitude you need to adopt as we continue to live together in the bonds of Christian love sharing the love and hope of Jesus in our community.

Pray for our church, our building plans, the Lord’s will to be done, our schools as they recommence, anyone sick, a friend who is weak in conscience, a non-Christian friend whom you would love to see know the freedom of Jesus.

Living Free Community

The Garden of GoodSermon
Epiphany 4B, Sunday February 1, 2015.
St Petri, 10.30 service

1 Corinthians 8: 1-13
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.[a]
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.
So knowledge isn’t everything. Understanding of the world and how it works valuable, but it is not everything, the only thing. In fact it cannot get us to where we long to be as community. There is another thing that does that.

Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
This is a direct challenge to a culture that seems to have replaced faith with reason believing that “education is the key”, “knowledge is power”, and as a result, loading school staff up with the unreasonable burden of fixing our community’s brokenness, fixing my child in every way and creating a better society – all through better education.

Paul says that an over-reliance on human, or even spiritual knowledge has the likely outcome of a self-centred pride and arrogance (puffed up) but self-sacrificing, divine love builds individuals and communities up in that self-giving, self-sacrificing character.

So in the pursuit of freedom, Paul is saying that there is a greater thing, a more complete thing, a greater force that transforms us and our many issues, a perfect thing, a beautiful thing – a thing to pin our hopes on and live in with complete confidence, freedom and joy, a thing in which we learn by Word and action, a thing by which we are shaped and shape others – a thing that makes reason and knowledge also beautiful because they are in the right place, the right order, the best ground to grow.

This thing is love – not romantic or even emotionally founded feeling – but action, doing, compassion, kindness – agape love – self-giving, self-emptying, prodigious, gracious, un-called for, over the top, fathomless, unreasonable love.

We call it Grace – undeserved love – and we have heard it is a person not a thing. God is love. God; Father, Son and Spirit – here and now, and God is calling us to pursue it.

Paul speaks to a local community in a large and very pagan city, who have had their hearts and minds transformed by the gracious presence of the Crucified Man of love, risen and present in their community by his holy Word. They have heard him. They are known by him. They have been loved and they are now trying to live in that love.

With their flawed human heart, they have fallen into their fair share of inflated egos, bragging about not only their great knowledge of the world and its reason, but of the spiritual things of the Spirit of God. Paul carefully reminds people that if you have to choose between being loving and being right, be loving.

Now there is a thing to ponder for our relationships.

“If you have to choose between being loving and being right, be loving”.

We all want to be right and we all have our vision of what is right and these can differ from the person next to us! Some people think we are too focused on ourselves and are not open enough to people outside the church. Others think we are giving too much of ourselves away in the attempt to reach out to others. We are all on a journey with our own experience, learning and story and we are all different. How do we live authentically and in the freedom of forgiveness we have received from Jesus?
As an example of Christian freedom to love Paul raises an everyday issue these followers of Jesus had to deal with. The problem of eating food (meat) already sacrifices to idols in home and temple pagan worship.
Suppose that there is a pot-luck tea on at St Petri. Someone brings a platter of food saying, “The local Satan-worshippers had a table set up at the mall today, giving away this food. It’s delicious!”
Would you eat it in front of everyone at the pot luck meal? What would it teach others if you did? “Everything matters because everything teaches”, don’t forget.

For Paul, a piece of meat is a piece of meat. It does not matter if that meat was offered as a sacrifice to a false god in a pagan temple. Eating it will not hurt you. There’s no actual power in it to do damage to you or to your faithfulness to God. Gods (little ‘g’) are not God. They are just speechless, action-less, lifeless “things of stone and wood” that we, with our internal idol making and chasing heart turn into something more.

But what impact might eating the stuff have on a young Confirmation kid just beginning to hear about the love of God in Jesus? What would it mean to a person new to the gospel or a sceptical person waiting to find a hole in our integrity to affirm their doubt in the reality of Jesus’ revolutionary love?
In a context where no one would have a problem with it, it would be fine: maybe your own family or among old friends of faith. In a context where someone might be led to take offense or be depleted in their trust in Jesus, (“fall”) because of it, it would be wrong.

Can you see that this Word about freedom and its use challenges everyone, both irreligious people who say, “I can do what I want”, and the irreligious who say “you can’t do anything right”. We all have our place and story and yet in the household of faith, we only owe each other one thing – love. Without self-giving love, there cannot be community.

The question Paul calls us to respond to together is this: How do we live in the freedom we have in the gracious love of God in a way that is faithful to that love together?
Here’s the question for us: How might we gauge the impact of our actions on the lives of others and how we might use that impact as a reason to restrict our own behaviour.

Friends, in church, school and community we cannot live any way we want if we want to be authentic in God’s gracious love for us. We are free and yet we are bound together.

Here’s how Luther put the situation for us free people in Jesus
1. Christians have complete freedom and power over everything, and are under no obligation to anyone
2. Christians are servants of all, and are under complete obligation to everyone.
Martin Luther: Freedom of the Christian
Let’s make it more us. (Let’s speak it together..)
1. I have complete freedom and power over everything, and am under no obligation to you.
2. I am a servant of you, and am under complete obligation to you.

1. St Petri has complete freedom and power over everything, and is under no obligation to this community.
2. St Petri is a servant of this community, and is under complete obligation to this community.

Friends, as individuals living in Jesus’ great freedom project, we as individuals in relationships and as communities need to tape this up on our mirror so that every time we see ourselves we also see these words:

‘Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by God.'”

People, if we have to choose between being loving and being right, be loving.
This is our freedom: this is our calling in community.

And why go for this greater thing – this crazy little thing called love? Why pursue faith more than reason, love more than knowledge of things? Because “whoever loves God is known by God”.

God knows love. God is love and in him there is no darkness or conceit. God knows the lover and loves the lover. Jesus Christ loves the world, with all its reason, and yet calls a church and a school to experience, pursue and live out this higher thing: self-sacrificing, serving, giving, gracious love of the holy community – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

To live in that love is to use our freedom in him to love.

A Listening Heart

Sermon:

Epiphany 4B

Sun Jan 29th 2012

St Petri

Psalm 111

The Getting of Wisdom

It is very good to be here. It has taken a lot to be here – a lot from you, a lot from me and my family and the most from the Lord. It is good to be here.

As I ponder an open future with you in this place I want to begin well because beginnings set the tone for what comes after. I want to get it right and yet, I know, as President David so pointedly said at the installation Service last Sunday, “It is not about you, Adrian. It is about what God has already done for you”.

So, I know that as we begin this relationship and this ministry and mission together, that it is not about me getting anything right, but we working together under the Lord’s direction – and him getting it right – and he always gets it right!

Nevertheless, I am human!! So, I feel like the young boy, King Solomon, who was crowned king so young. He was thrust into the complex world of leadership in a community that had been around for ages and had reached great heights, and yet still had their issues and needed a wise king to bring that good heritage into a bright future.

You remember that at God’s instigation, Solomon was asked to pray for the thing he really needed as he took up his calling to lead God’s people as king. He could have prayed for the usual things kings want – more power, more wealth, more territory……. But, Solomon prayed for something we might not value as much as he obviously did. In 1Kings 3, we hear that the new leader prayed to the Lord for a listening heart (1Kings 3:9). With this listening heart, Solomon became the wise king (at least for half of his reign anyway!) who became the head of a whole school of wise learners and writers – who eventually wrote down something of their wisdom in the Book of Proverbs.

So, I want to pray that prayer and receive the great gift called wisdom. I want us all to begin wisely and well.

That last line of Psalm 111 we hear gets to the heart of where wisdom begins.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

Like Solomon, we need a listening heart and the wisdom it brings to bear on who we are am and how we work together. We all need wisdom. Not just for moving into God’s future for St Petri, but for life – marriage, parenting, grand-parenting, working, business, serving people in Jesus’ name wherever we are….

I remember a definition of wisdom that someone told me once. Wisdom is knowing what to do at the right time: knowing what to do, what to say, at just the right time;  knowing how to react, how to plan when the moment requires. Knowing which way to choose when there is a choice to be made.

Robin Mann, maybe one of the many modern days Psalm writers, reflected on this Psalm in a song he wrote a while back…. he sings;

1.   What do we know? What do we learn?

Why is the world? Why are we born?

Who can explain the ripples on the ocean;

the joy of a birth or the aching of a heart that’s torn?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

2.   How do we see? How do we hear?

Who made the light? Who made the sound?

Creatures that play we are limited for answers,

if for a day like the flowers we will fade away.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom:

The Psalmist answers our need for wise ways now. He says that if we see anything, if we understand anything about the world, ourselves, how things tick, how we are to grow together in love and witness as a church, it’s because the Lord is the source of understanding of all things and all he is and does. “The Lord has caused his wonders to be remembered”, says the song writer. It is the Word of the Lord that we need to hear – in the heart, with our “listening heart”.

So when I look up into the star filled sky, or look over the Valley from Menglers hill on a beautiful day or casually drive or ride through the vines early in the morning or late in the day, anything I may understand about these things is a gift of the Lord – not merely my own brilliance.

OK. But what about when we try to figure out God’s will and ways? What about when we try to understand spiritual things, unseen things, powerful things, things beyond? Well then we are at a loss. The history of human life is a story of the attempt to make sense of the dimensions beyond us. Temples, stories, poetry, philosophy – the very word comes from “Sophia”, the greek word for our English word – wisdom. Plato, Socrates, the Illiad and the Oddessy, Homer, Augustine, Occam, Descart, Hume, Nitschke, Freud, Jean Paul Satre – grasping at the “God dimension”.

But here is a truth from the Bible: We will never find the God of mercy and grace by gazing at stars, hugging trees, sailing the seven seas, testing our ability on a bungy strap, making a million, helping a billion, solo circumnavigation of the world, understanding the incredible processes of our natural environment.

There we may get a hint of something or someone greater and may even make a statue, or a theory or a symbol of what we have learnt – but we will not find the God of grace and mercy.

It is only in the Scriptures, in the word of this One who is the wisdom of the universe that we will find his very other-worldly wisdom – his character, his personality, his intentions for us, his upside down wisdom,

As Robin goes on to sing……,

3.   What kind of God dies on a cross?

Gasping for breath: a spirited sigh.

What kind of God has a face like any other;

a heart that is full of compassion for a lonely child?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

Friends, the honour, the fear, the attentiveness, the will for God’s word is the beginning we need. As we begin our journey together as pastor and people serving the Lord and each other and those who need us to share the love and hope of Jesus with them, we need a new will, a new prayer, a new commitment to pray for a listening heart and the wisdom the Lord of the church will give to us.

I don’t know what shape this new drive for God’s word in our hearts will take. But I do know that this is the only beginning we need. We need to pray for a listening heart and we need to help each other pray for a listening heart. The Spirit, our Counsellor and Helper will take that prayer and set us on our way together. Will you take this prayer for a listening heart seriously? Will you dare to pray it in your own way in your own time and place in these days ahead?

Can we begin our days for the month of February with Solomon’s prayer. “Lord, give me a listening heart today”? It is my prayer these days and I will be praying it often. Will you join me?

If we forget or get distracted can we help each other and can we trust that In Jesus, wisdom has come to us and his wise counsel, his forgiveness, his deep concern and compassion for us will always win the day. He will remind us. He will restore us. He will make us wise and he will be our present and our future in this community called St Petri.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom:

all who follow his precepts have good understanding.

To him belongs eternal praise.

Amen.