SUNDAY 7th AUGUST: THE EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Genesis 15: 1-6
Luke 12: 32-40
Can anything in football be as nerve-wracking as taking a crucial penalty in the
knock-out rounds of the World Cup? A nation holds its collective breath as the player
steps up to the ball. The former Liverpool and England player Steven Gerrard describes
the intense pressure of taking a penalty against Portugal in the quarter finals of
the 2006 World Cup. After a “tortuous walk” up to the ball, Gerrard psyched himself
up and ran through his mental checklist: “I had belief in my technique.....I was
ready,” he says. “But then came a few seconds' delay before the referee blew his
whistle. Those moments seemed like an eternity, and definitely put me off,” Gerrard
says. By the time the whistle blew he had lost his focus, and he missed the penalty.
Portugal cheered while England sighed.
Today's Gospel Reading follows on from the beautiful and often-quoted passage in
which Jesus illustrates his teaching with the examples of birds and lilies. God provides
for them, so they have no need to stockpile food, toil or spin. This provides the
context and sets the tone for today's reading, as Jesus with more words of comfort
and reassurance, tells his listeners, “it is your Father's good pleasure to give
you the kingdom”. He then tells them to live charitably and simply - “Sell your possessions,
and give alms.” He then likens people of faith to servants waiting for their master
to return from a wedding celebration. The master might come home during the middle
of the night, near dawn, or at an unexpected hour”.
Suddenly we are jolted out of our comfort zone. What is that we have just heard?
We have to give away our material possessions. Surely we have been told that God
will provide for us without us having to toil. And why should we force ourselves
to stay awake? We need our beauty sleep! Also, what is all this about Jesus catching
us unawares? That can be very unsettling. I think we prefer the stuff about the birds
and the lilies. This teaching makes us feel very uncomfortable, so we just want to
Too often we interpret the teachings of Jesus like naughty children caught misbehaving
by a strict parent. We may appear alert and focused, but inwardly we become restless,
fidgety and sometime rebellious. In fact it is in those moments when we are shifting
in our seats and silently quibbling we are least focused.
Steven Gerrard scored many penalties in his playing career. For this he needed to
tap into that state of readiness that eluded him in 2006. His autobiography gives
us a sense of the discipline that was required to get to that point, the endless
practice and training, the antisocial hours and lifestyle.
If we want to focus on the kingdom of God as our goal, we need to start training.
A good way to kick off is by meditating on the assurance of Jesus that it is indeed
God's “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom. When we allow this teaching to sink
in deeply, we can start to trust and relax.
Next, we need to become alert to the teachings of Jesus that our heart's treasure
lies not in material possessions, but in sharing our resources. We need to put aside
childish ideas that God wants to impose austerity upon us, or for us to endure personal
hardship. We need to realise that God is not trying to catch us unawares, ambush
or chastise us like a strict parent.
We may not be cut out to be top-class footballers, but each and every one of us,
without exception, no matter what our background or brokenness has the potential
to achieve more than we can possibly imagine. But we will never find fulfilment by
simply plodding along. We need the Holy Spirit working through us, to tap into that
elusive quality of relaxed alertness that already exists within, but which we lose
when we take our eye off the ball. To get to this point we need discipline and practice.
This involves engaging with the word of God, saying our prayers and practising love
and charity all day, every day.
help us to be alert of your presence with us
ready to share what we have with those in need,
and to seek your kingdom here on earth.
As we continue on our journey of faith
help us to proclaim the good news of your love
so that what we declare with our lips
we may believe in our hearts
and display in our lives.
This prayer we offer in the name of Jesus Christ.
Canon Dave 6th August 2022
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
Last Saturday I had the privilege of marrying my nephew at a beautiful church in
Newton St. Cyres on the outskirts of Exeter. The journey by train on the Friday was
horrendous for many passengers as some were standing all the way from Derby to Exeter.
Fortunately we had booked seats.
Our Bed and Breakfast accommodation for the weekend was excellent. The man who owned
the premises was one amazing person. A few years ago Kerry and his nephew built a
24 foot long rowing boat and rowed from Tennerife to Barbados for a challenge. It
took them 62 days, 5 hours and 26 minutes. The only scary situation was when an enormous
whale came very close to the boat. After It had taken one look at Kerry and his nephew
it descended to the depths never to be seen again. We listened for hours about his
expedition over a glass of chablis and some very delicious food.