Sunday, 3 November 2013

For all the Saints..... the pain of growing?

Our Gospel reading comes from Luke today, at first perhaps it all feels quite familiar. This is because it begins like the more well-known piece in Mathew gospel which we call the Sermon on the mount. Luke pieces together his own version and strangely makes the point that Jesus has come down to a level place.
The purpose of the message however seems similar… a long list of things in which we might feel very uncomfortable and yet Jesus says in them we are blessed. It is not something we would choose.
This week Rachel and I watched a film named “Tyrannosaurus” . It was quite uncomfortable to watch in places. The “intro” said it was about an alcoholic’s relationship with a lady who worked in a charity shop. Well it turned out to be much more than this and by the end we have witnessed two dogs getting beaten to death, a man being stabbed and killed, a friend dying, and a victim being imprisoned. The closing scene is the visiting room in the prison, and it here for perhaps the first time clearly that light and hope come into the film.
The characters grow and deepen by facing their crippling lives.
Do we get it too easy? Have we had it too good for too long? Have we grown to be like the spoilt child, who thinks that anything they want is surely possible to have.
A few months ago Jack was struggling with an aspect of his maths work… it became quite tense!! A few weeks ago Jack was heard to say “I am looking forward to maths today.
We have seen Jack grow with confidence in the new skate park recently. The slope which was just too high at first is now merely a bunny hop away. It is great to see this growing confidence and ability.
But non of this came easy. It was at first impossible and out of reach.
On this All Saints Sunday we remember the saints of course, but let us also remember the price they paid to teach us that adversity builds strength and character. The Saints we praise today were often the solitary people who were willing to be reviled and spat upon… even worse,
Christians today are still persecuted and punished for their faith and once again we are invited to put ourselves into their very uncomfortable shoes.
And yet let’s consider things from a slightly different angle.
How do we handle our relationship with God. Do we behave a little one sided sometimes?
In the good times its is so easy to leave God out of the picture. But when the going gets tough Christians start praying!
Why is it that our most heartfelt prayers seem to be for loved ones or ourselves who are in many ways going through tough times?
Isn't it so annoying these days trying to get through on the telephone to large businesses.
You dial, the phone call is answered by a recorded message inviting you to select from various options. This can happen a few times of course then as you think you are about to be connected to a real live voice the miserable music gets played again and is interrupted by a message saying how important you are and that your call will be answered shortly.
When things are going well in our lives we often put God on hold. In various ways we imply that he really does matter to us and that we will be with him in due course. We will deal with him when we have got the time.
I used to have a poster on my wall at University that read “If you are too busy to pray you are too busy”
Let us,  in thinking of the saints who surround our steps as we journey on, be mindful of putting God on hold. Let us be mindful of the fact that hard times and testing times are actually a blessing to us and without them we do not grow.
I have spoken with three people this week in fact that have said that without the pain they endured they would not be half the person they are today

Let our constant prayer be one for courage and strength in testing times and at times we do feel at odds with someone or some situation let us remind ourselves that God is with us in these times as well as the better times when we may be putting him “on hold”