Whenever life throws something at you that you never expected, it helps to reflect and pray in order to try to make sense of it. In this space, we are able to ask ourselves: what would Jesus do if he were here today?
We often forget that Jesus IS here with us today, and that He lives in us and in our love for Him and one another. But we are so busy and there is so much noise in our daily lives that it is hard to HEAR Jesus.
I was fortunate to be part of the archdeaconry quiet morning of spiritual formation yesterday at Bishop Bavin School with 35 Anglicans from different parishes in our archdeaconry, including our St Andrew’s, St Michael’s & All Angels Bez Valley, St Margaret’s Bedfordview, St John’s Belgravia, and St Patrick’s Malvern.
We were led in prayer, reflection and discussion by Sue Tinsley who helped us to take time to get in touch with our deep desires and to begin to honour them. We were also encouraged to hear God’s desire for us. She said that the most important aspect of our faith is our ongoing relationship with God. He is longing for us to connect with Him. He is ready and waiting for us with unconditional love. He heals us and transforms us and bring us into His likeness. As we get more like God, she encouraged us to go out into the world and share this relationship with others.
What a wonderful morning.
While it was booked many weeks ago, the Quiet Morning could not have come at a better time. Many of us were stressed out and wrestling with recent events in our community and our country such as:
- the collapse of the bridge over the highway in Sandton
- the attack in Rhodes Park last Saturday
- the train accident in Ennerdale Friday night
- and of course the past week of nation-wide student protests that started at Wits where many of our children are studying – and marching.
Where is God in all this and how would Jesus have responded?
This takes us to another pillar of our faith – the Holy Bible. Today being a special day of prayer dedicated to Bible Sunday, it is important to recognise that as Anglicans, our faith is based on the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We need to read the Bible daily and reflect on what it means for our lives today. There are many guides to help us, such as the Anglican lectionary, a booklet which gives the set daily readings for the Old Testment, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel readings used throughout the world. This lectionary helps us cover all 150 psalms monthly and most of the Bible in a 3-year cycle. Commentaries and Bible study books help us better understand and interpret what the Scriptures mean. It helps to explore questions like: What was the world like when the scriptures were written? Who wrote the different passages? What were they trying to say and who was the audience? How is the passage relevant to life today in Johannesburg? What is God saying to me through this passage?
Today’s Gospel reading, for example, is an amazing story about Jesus healing Bartimaeus who was blind and begging on the street. (Mark 10:46-52)
Two crucial aspects of this story. Bartimaeus was trying to change his situation the only way he knew how. He knew what he wanted and who could help him.
Bartimaeus was shouting, asking for Jesus, but people told him to keep quiet so he shouted even more.
No one listened to the students, so they shouted even more.
Jesus asked Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied: “Rabbi, I want to see.”
How would Jesus respond to requests like: “Rabbi, I want to learn.” “Rabbi, I want to walk safely in my neighbourhood park.” “Rabbi, I want to travel safely.” “Rabbi I want to live in a peaceful and just South Africa.”
Jesus was with the brave and peaceful students helping them in pushing for what is right, access to education for all. Jesus was definitely at Rhodes Park yesterday when over 100 residents gathered for a moving prayer vigil, comforting the family and friends of the victims and survivors, uniting the community and inspiring us all to love and protect one another. Jesus was with the victims of the train and highway accidents and all those working to help them.
Jesus is also with us, today, all day and every day, as we respond to what life throws at us. Connecting with God through prayer, the Holy Bible, worship, and our faith in action reminds us of His unfailing and everlasting love.
(MG Sunday 24 Oct 2015)