God’s Honour

What a difference there is between God’s values and those that dominate most of our human social systems! People we hold in high esteem are often dispicable in God’s eyes, and those we overlook may be the most honoured in eternity. Well, that is what Luke wants us to realize, and he repeats his point over and over in his gospel. Our reading this Sunday is especially telling, as Jesus confronts the social values of his host and fellow dinner guests. The message is for us as well as them.
You can listen to my comments here….

Howard Pilgrim

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Safety or Joy?

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, from Luke 13, Jesus makes a point of healing a woman whose chronic illness has become an accepted part of her faith community’s life. No one feels her pain anymore, no-one expects God to improve her lot. Jesus chooses to challenge this status-quo thinking on the sabbath, a day devoted to celebrating God’s liberating presence in Israel’s history. Like us in our churches, they were more comfortable with celebrating the past than opening themselves up to God’s action in the present. They had opted for safety rather than joy.
You can listen to my comments here…..
Howard Pilgrim

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Carrot and Stick

The gospel reading for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Luke 12, has two distinct elements. The first is an extraordinary encouragement given to Jesus’ disciples to invest their lives and resources in the mission of proclaiming and embodying God’s reign on earth. Jesus gives them a paradoxical image of God as a bridgegroom who returns from his wedding banquet to serve his slaves: a remarkable reversal of our normal expectations of how a life of privilege and power is lived out. The self-giving God, who calls his disciples to pass on the generosity that sustains us to others. This is followed by a warning about accountability: the more we have received from God, the more responsibiilty we carry for what we do with it.
You can listen to my comments on the text here…
Howard Pilgrim

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Rich and Foolish?

In the gospel reading for this coming Sunday, the 18th in Ordinary Time, Luke gives us Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool. It raises several probing questins for us all. What does it mean to be “rich toward God”? Why was God so ticked off with this guy who thought he had just got lucky? How did everyone else in his community feel about him? Is our accountability to God connected with our attitude to our neighbours, and especially to those who work for us?
For all this and much much more, listen to my comments here!
Howard Pilgrim

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Praying with Jesus

“Lord, teach us to pray” his disciples asked after seeing Jesus’ prayer life in action. To be effective in the mission he was sending them on would require them to be able to enter the prayerful, spiritual dimension that empowered his own ministry.
Two millenia later the same principle still applies. You can listen to my comments on Luke 11:1-13 here….
Howard Pilgrim

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A Training Day with Jesus

When we read Luke’s Martha-and-Mary story on its own terms, we may be surprised at how much it has to tell us about how we carry out the mission to which he calls us… especially about the way in which tasks we take on gladly may become drudgery if we forget why we began them in the first place.
You can listen to my comments here…
Howard Pilgrim

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Entering the Life of God

This Sunday’s gospel reading contains the story commonly known as “The Good Samaritan”. Perhaps it should be called “The God-like Samaritan”, which is equivalent to “the saintly heretic” or perhaps “the purehearted mongrel”. However we might frame the paradoxal element in this story, at the heart of it is the universal human longing for a closer connection with the life of God. To achieive this, Jesus tells us, we need to discover those who God wants us to care for, and in doing so experience the wildly extravagent comnpassion God has towards humanity and towards our world.

You can listen to my comments here…
Howard Pilgrim

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Four Principles of Mission

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke 10, we may find four vital principles underlying the Christian mission as Luke understood it in his day. Just in case you don’t have 18 minutes to listen to what I have to say, here they are as bullet points….
* Vulnerability. We must take a low-key approach to people, because that is what God does.
* Spirituality. We are seeking out those who respond to God’s fundamental blessing of Peace.
* Community Building. As honest brokers, we should avoid unhealthy entanglements.
* Confidence. We must retain a good sense of our authority as God’s agents.

For what I mean by those points, you can listen to my comments here….

Howard Pilgrim

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Getting Jesus Wrong

We don’t own Jesus! No matter how sincere we are about being his disciples, it is much too easy to take him up the wrong way. Mainly this consists of trying to fit something he has said into a framework of understanding that will leave us feeling comfortable, that will fit into our normal social context, that will not put us too much out of step with our neighbours. We naturally shrink from being seen as radical, unusual, uncool. Well sorry, Jesus is aiming to change some of that, because no society is without its faults, and we are not yet in God’s perfect kingdom. Even in “Godzone” New Zealand, some things have to change for the better, and that means making some people uncomfortable for a while, especially ourselves if God has called us to be his change agents.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus’ disiples and some other would-be followers get a bit of a tuneup from the boss. Luke has set it down in writing so we can get a little of the same treatment!
You can hear what I have to say about this text here….
Howard Pilgrim

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Confronting the Legions

Sometimes in this great mission we are on as Jesus’disciples it seems as if the forces we are up against are just too alien and too powerful, whether we see them as political or spiritual entities. They are in charge of how things are done, and they are immovable. Until they meet Jesus, that is This week’s gospel shows that they can be routed in an instant. You can listen to my comments here….
Howard Pilgrim

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