Episode 24

May 24, 2024


B224 Pentecost 2

B224 Pentecost 2
By the Well
B224 Pentecost 2

May 24 2024 | 00:36:53


Show Notes

For the second week of Pentecost season, Sally and Robyn discuss 1 Sam 3:1-20; Psalm 139; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; and Mark 2:23-3:6.

It is also the Sunday of Reconciliation week in Australia and were grateful to Brooke Prentis for sharing some thoughts about how Christians might mark that in their worship.

We also refer to Howard Wallace's Lectionary blog.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Speaker A: You're listening to by the well, a lectionary based podcast, preachers recorded on the land of the Wurundjeri people. [00:00:16] Speaker B: Hi, I'm Sally Douglas. [00:00:18] Speaker A: And I'm Robyn Whittaker. [00:00:19] Speaker B: And this Sunday is Pentecost two. And we're going to be looking at these reading. It's one Samuel, chapter three, verses one to 20, psalm 139, 1613 to 18. And we might look a little bit further into the psalm as well. Two corinthians four, five to twelve, and mark chapter two starting at verse 23, then reading through to chapter three, verse six. It's also this Sunday, Reconciliation Sunday. [00:00:47] Speaker A: Yeah, in Australia from the 27 May to the 3 June is reconciliation week. And we asked aboriginal Christian leader Brooke Prentiss to tell us a little bit about reconciliation week. Brooke, it's national reconciliation Week. As an aboriginal Christian leader, what do you hope people might think about and preach about as they prepare worship in the Sunday of this week? [00:01:20] Speaker C: I hope I, obviously, as an aboriginal Christian leader, would love to see anyone who's preaching dedicate their sermon to National Reconciliation Week and bring in those themes of what is reconciliation. That's capital r reconciliation being the reconciliation, the building of relationship between aboriginal peoples of over 300 nations, Torres Strait Islander peoples of over 100 islands, of which 20 are lived on, and non indigenous peoples of all cultures in these lands now called Australia. And every year there's a theme for National Reconciliation Week. And this year the theme is now more, more than ever. And one of the things I say about reconciliation is we can't have reconciliation without truth, justice and action. And so whilst I've given you my dream of dedicating your whole sermon to National Reconciliation Week, just taking one step. And so it might be just to bring in the fact that it is National Reconciliation Week, that it is this theme. You can go to the Reconciliation Australia website and learn more about this theme, but it really is an important theme. And I hope, you know, if we're ever to have reconciliation, I see aboriginal people and my elders myself exhausting ourselves doing reconciliation, not just during National Reconciliation Week, but each and every day. But the reality is we can't do that on our own. And so we actually need non indigenous peoples of all cultures to participate in reconciliation. And so National Reconciliation Week gives you a great opportunity. But the important thing for this year is that we can't afford for non indigenous people to disengage, to disconnect, to turn away from reconciliation. And part of that, if you're in these lands now called Australia, is a bit related to the referendum that we had in 2023. Many aboriginal people feel numb, do feel rejected. There is a rise of racism, but we still continue to step into reconciliation. And, you know, I call reconciliation friendship. If people are looking for a resource, there's a great YouTube clip of my speech rethinking reconciliation, where I call it friendship. But just what's the one thing that you can do? And maybe it's as simple as referring to National Reconciliation Week and that the theme is now more than ever. [00:03:48] Speaker A: Thank you so much. We'll hear a little bit more from Brooke at the end. Sally, let's get into this reading from one Samuel, chapter three. [00:04:01] Speaker B: Absolutely quite exciting that we're here. [00:04:03] Speaker A: It is. And I mean, for those of you who some of the questions we've had come through our Facebook page have been about when do we go off lectionary or try and get a bit of a narrative flow. And if you look ahead, this is the first of a string of weeks of readings from one and two Samuel that traces the movement of Israel from being under the period of the judges to the period of the kings. And Samuel will be a key prophetic figure in that. So it is potentially a good time to spend some time with an Old Testament text, with your congregations and think about preaching Samuel for a series. [00:04:40] Speaker B: Yeah. Because there are interesting themes in one Samuel. So in the beginning of the context is that there's kind of loosely connected tribes and there's the threat of the Philistines, there's internal crisis, there's corruption and religious corruption as well. And then it moves towards, as you said, Robyn, the throne of David. So it's an interesting context to be engaging with, I think. [00:05:02] Speaker A: Yeah. And we need to remember these texts are written down hundreds and hundreds of years later. So it's describing a period probably around 1000 to 900 BCE, but most likely written down after exile. So one of the things we see in this, the work of the deuteronomistic historian who writes, we think is responsible for Joshua judges, the Samuel narratives and the king's narratives, is giving a narrative for why Israel went into exile. And part of that narrative is we stopped worshiping God, we stopped listening to God. And there's an interesting part of that is we asked for a king and God warned us that the kings would be bad. And, hey, some of them were, and. [00:05:44] Speaker B: We still wanted it anyway. [00:05:45] Speaker A: Yeah. So it's giving a bit of a historic account for why they've ended up in the situation. They did kind of thing. [00:05:52] Speaker B: That's so interesting, too, because this is how we make sense of our realities. We look at the past even if we're not conscious of it, and we tell stories about it and sometimes we change. And in some of these texts we see different versions of the same events. But, yeah, it's continuing to try and make sense of what happened. And who are we? And whose are we? [00:06:08] Speaker A: Yep. So let's point out some little exegetical things, because this is in some ways a simple story, but also a very rich story that may be familiar. Samuel's a boy, right? His mother, Hannah, you might want to read back, has dedicated him. She was unable to have children for a long time, so he's seen as a gift of God that she's dedicated back to God. [00:06:28] Speaker B: So Hannah's extraordinary in that context. [00:06:30] Speaker A: Oh, yes. And her song is worth reading in terms of also the theological themes of this text. But our scene starts with Samuel as a boy, described as ministering in Eli's presence. And Eli is a priest at Shiloh, so Shiloh is in Samaria. So in the New Testament, we get this tension about whether Samarians and other Jews worship God appropriately. And this is a second location for priestly cultic ministry. This Line, the word of the Lord, was rare. [00:07:05] Speaker B: I love this. Visions are rare at this time. This honesty that it's not always times when people are getting messages from God. I think that's beautiful. And what a comfort to know that it's not always going to be like we can look back at the past and think, oh, we'll look at the Wesley's or look at Luther or Hildegarde. You know, not just one part of the tradition. Yes, but it was rare. The visions were rare. The word of the Lord was rare at this time. So this is honesty about the kind of spiritual desolation here. [00:07:33] Speaker A: Yes. And that they were struggling. And again, if you read the context before this and at the end of judges, terrible things were happening. There was corruption, there was awful leadership, there was violence within the church, within the religious institution. Exactly. [00:07:45] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:07:46] Speaker A: So we've got the rarity of these visions and word of the Lord. And then in the next line, we need to read this, I think, you know, both as a description, but also metaphorically. We've got Eli lying down. And in alter's translation, his eyes had begun to grow bleary. So he's struggling to see, and I think that's a reference to his age, but also that he can't see the visions of the Lord anymore. His prophetic ministry is waning. And then we have Samuel also lying down. So these paralleling postures. But Samuel is lying where the lamp of God had not yet gone out. So even in this rarity of visions and this sort of darkness and blindness for seeing what God is doing, the lamp of God has not yet gone out. [00:08:33] Speaker B: And Samuel's close to it. [00:08:34] Speaker A: And Samuel's right there with it. Yeah. [00:08:35] Speaker B: So people might know this story from if they grew up in the church, winter, Sunday school. It's like, here I am, Lord, and go back to bed. It's beautiful. You're supposed to laugh. I think it's really rich and beautiful. But this and the repetitions three times. So Samuel's so open to the word, like, here I am, I'm available. [00:08:52] Speaker A: Yeah, he's eager. [00:08:53] Speaker B: Eager. And it's just like that cool narrative, you know. Well, different people run away, but Samuel's certainly very open. And Eli missing the point, like, go back to bed, you're annoying. And then finally, after the third time, the third time, it's a holy kind of number here, realizing, okay, we need to listen, it's God. [00:09:10] Speaker A: And then he hears it. And there's something in that to me about the persistence of God. [00:09:15] Speaker B: Yes. [00:09:15] Speaker A: Right. So there's lots of themes you could pick out of this reading, but one of them for me is the persistence of God in calling out to God's people and sometimes calling out to people who we least expect. That's a constant theme in the Bible. And here it's a quite young boy, not from a priestly family. [00:09:32] Speaker B: That's right. [00:09:33] Speaker A: Who is called. [00:09:34] Speaker B: And interestingly, in those earlier chapters, you all need to go back and read them. When Samuel's mum's praying, Eli thinks that she's drunk. Like she's just mouthing out loud, so she must be drunk. So there's this dismissal of this woman who can't have babies and now she looks like a drunkard. Completely wrong. She's the faithful one. And look, her son is so faithful. The thing that's really interesting, and I feel like it ties back to reconciliation though, is that the message that Samuel's called to give is not cheery. It's not like you're all awesome and it's all going to be great. [00:10:05] Speaker A: God loves you. Don't worry about anything. [00:10:07] Speaker B: That's right. You just don't have to change. It's completely opposite. And I think this is really important for us to remember because in the church sometimes, and I understand, I totally understand. In the uniting church or in mainstream protestant traditions, we are a little bit allergic to kind of language of judgment. We don't want that wrath kind of image of God. But part of justice, part of the work of justice, which we are also really passionate about, is about naming evil and even daring to face our complicity with that, with injustice, whether it's. Or there's a whole range of issues, whether it's the clothes we buy that are manufactured by people who are in appalling conditions, or whether it's in everyday racism that we're not even aware that we're taking part in or that we allow to happen in front of us without calling out. So I think to think about those themes in terms of what does a prophetic stance as a church look like? It doesn't just mean affirming people. That can be part of it, but it's also about naming evil in systems and structures and becoming more aware of how we are involved in that and meshed in that and are called out to change. [00:11:10] Speaker A: Yeah. And that it's part of the prophetic work of the church communally as well as certain individuals, to do that naming and calling out, which is what the prophets do. So prophets in the Hebrew Bible, they're not predicting the future. That's such a simplistic and flat notion of prophecy. They are naming the problems of society and the injustices they see and calling people to do better, which, of course, perfectly ties to a reconciliation theme. Of what? Where's the prophetic voice of our own church? What small actions towards reconciliation could one take? I also love in this story two final things. I know we need to move on, that this work of discerning call is deeply personal, but also communal. [00:11:59] Speaker B: Yes. [00:11:59] Speaker A: I wrote, he needs Eli to help him. So there's something here about the work of elders, the work of people who've gone before to help us. [00:12:07] Speaker B: Even as might wane, they are still. I think that's such an important point that we are not, particularly in our culture, which are so obsessed with individuality that it's not just. Well, God told me, I'm going to go and do it. We need community to test things out. We need wise elders, whether they're older than us or not. We need wise elders. Absolutely. [00:12:25] Speaker A: So let's turn to psalm 139. [00:12:27] Speaker B: Okay. [00:12:32] Speaker A: A beautiful psalm. [00:12:33] Speaker B: Yes. [00:12:34] Speaker A: And a bit unusual amongst the psalms because it has such an intimate voice, this God knows me, this individual. It's seen as sort of. It's slightly unusual and its genre in that sense. But, Sally, what do you notice about this psalm? [00:12:49] Speaker B: So what? I think this is such a powerful psalm, but I think we need to also be aware of its power. So I just want to test something out with you, Robyn. So if you have a strong sense of God's love and a sense of kind of security within the presence of God, reading this, I imagine, would sound beautiful. Oh, lord, you know me. You're with me everywhere I go. However, how might it sound if you were brought up with an image of God who was out to get you? Or if you are coming from a context, for example, escaping domestic violence, which has been hugely and importantly covered in our news recently? Like, I think in every congregation, every faith context you're in, preachers need to assume that there are survivors of violence or sexual violence within the congregation. The numbers are so high, statistically, that is highly likely. [00:13:47] Speaker A: Right. [00:13:47] Speaker B: So if you read that text from that context, then just listen to it. You know, when I sit down and when I rise up, you search out my path. You hem me in behind and before me, you lay your hand upon me. How does it read now? Yeah, so I think if you're using this. So I'm naming that, like, none of us come to these texts from a neutral space. We come with all of our experiences, all we've been told about God, also experiences of human interactions. And so just to name that, this might feel amazing, but it also might feel terrifying. So how do we engage with this? [00:14:25] Speaker A: Yeah, it might feel overly controlling. [00:14:27] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:14:27] Speaker A: And terrifying. Consistently present in ways that are limiting. [00:14:32] Speaker B: That's right. [00:14:33] Speaker A: And also, for me and what you're saying, Sally, and I think this is a helpful lens to, you know, always read with. To be sensitive to these things. You know, for me, the immediate question is, well, God, if you know me and, you know, my sitting and my rising, then you also know what I've had to deal with. And where were you? Right. So we might also name, you know, how do we deal with this tension that's in all of the. All sorts of biblical texts, between the promise that God knows us intimately and. And wants life and good things for us. And yet that doesn't mean we don't also, you know, it's the. Where is God? And the suffering it is. [00:15:11] Speaker B: And that's why we need to hold this, particularly this kind of psalm, really carefully, because you could easily pluck up verses from this and say, everything in my life has been ordained by God. You could definitely do a reading, a fatalistic reading. And I don't think that's what's going on. Like, the psalms are full of poetry and prayer and despair and joy and metaphor and symbolism. And so reading the whole psalm even gives us a bit of help, because then the author of this psalm goes on to be furious about the wicked and hates the wicked. I wish that you would kill them. I think that can be a word of comfort, for example, in the context of. And I know this is hard stuff, and I apologise if this is triggering for people, for us to talk about it, but to know for survivors of violence or abuse that it's okay to hate. There's a biblical kind of warrant for being. [00:15:58] Speaker A: To talk about enemies. Like, these are the people who did me harm. [00:16:01] Speaker B: That's right. I hate them, and I long for you to kill them. God, this can be a valid expression of faithfulness, not that we go and do any of the violence, but that we can voice that we voice it to God. [00:16:10] Speaker A: Yep. [00:16:10] Speaker B: Yep. [00:16:11] Speaker A: I think you're right, Sally. If I was to preach on this or use this as a kind of a focus text this week, and I should say we'll put a link in the show notes, but Howard Wallace has a lovely reflection on this, including some prayers, ways to use it as part of our confession and things in worship. So that's on his blog. But I think you're right in that. The lectionary, which I know we critique often on this lectionary podcast, we love it. We love it, but has given us the lovely verses. But even after verse six, if you keep reading, one of the things I really noticed was these dualisms, which is typical of hebrew poetry. So, you know, when I sit, when I rise, my walking path, my resting place behind and in front, and then in verse eight, we've got heavens and sheol. So Sheol is the world of the dead under the earth. At this point. It's not hell as it develops. It's just a place of the dead. But it goes on to talk about in darkness. You're there for me. So it does answer that question of where is God? Well, God is in all of these places and all of these experiences and gives us a way to voice some of that, I think. [00:17:20] Speaker B: And that sense of God longing for justice as well. Yes. And it ends with this beautiful, I know we're going beyond the text, but at the very end of psalm 139 is this incredible acknowledgement and humility. And if there's any wickedness in me, you know, lead me out of it. So it's a confidence in God's grace. Like, yes, there's wickedness, but it's not the end of the story. Lead me, you know, cleanse me. [00:17:41] Speaker A: Yeah. And I think again. That's why we've got to keep reading, because if we're affirming that God does know us intimately in a way that possibly no other human does, even our most intimate people, it ends with, but God, search me and know me, and, you know, basically probe me. And again, if we're thinking of this in Australia, in the context of reconciliation week, part of our probing and our examination of ourself, and there's a long tradition of christians examining ourselves before God, right. Is confessing the ways we are complicit in injustice, in racism, the stuff you named before Sally, that we sometimes silently sit by and don't call out racism because we're not directly affected. And I'm saying we, if you're listening and you don't. Sally and I are sitting here as two anglo women, so don't experience that in the same way. And, you know, there is a sense of our need to self examine. [00:18:37] Speaker B: There is, but with the affirmation that God's power and grace and love are bigger. So it's not sitting in a hole of I'm revolting and terrible. But if there's stuff in that needs to be fixed, get to it. God lead me into the path of it. [00:18:51] Speaker A: Lead me and we're capable of change. [00:18:52] Speaker B: Right. [00:18:53] Speaker A: That's where God calls us. All right, so two Corinthians, chapter four. This feels like a romp through some people. [00:19:07] Speaker B: We couldn't leave any out. [00:19:08] Speaker A: Yeah. Two Corinthians, chapter four. And the lectionary gives us verses five to twelve. [00:19:14] Speaker B: Very beautiful. Yeah. [00:19:16] Speaker A: Where are we? What's going on here? In two Corinthians, Sally. Context is helpful. [00:19:21] Speaker B: Yeah. So obviously Paul's writing to the people of Corinth, and I think we need to be really careful not to make assumptions about the people of Corinth. People make all kinds of arguments. They're terrible, they're way out, they're cramped. Who knows? We only have Paul's perspective, so let's just hold back on the judgments here. He speaks in extraordinary language, though, about collective, so shared. You can use the word mystical or spiritual experiences of Jesus. And I think you may have noticed, but often in academia, there's a bit of a downplaying of Paul's mystical side. Yes. [00:19:58] Speaker A: Makes us slightly uncomfortable. [00:20:00] Speaker B: Turns out, often in mainstream protestant churches, that also happens. This is like, oh, yeah, he's very logical. He runs his logical arguments, but he is deeply informed by his mystical experiences. And just flagging, though, he just says nothing about Damascus. So let's just not assume he had one mystical experience that's the author of Luke acts may or may not have happened like that. I'm very well agnostic because we don't know. Paul doesn't know. [00:20:26] Speaker A: No, we don't know. Paul does not tell that story of so called conversion in the same way. But he does talk about other visionary, mystical experiences of God. [00:20:35] Speaker B: He certainly does. And in this letter. [00:20:36] Speaker A: Yes. [00:20:37] Speaker B: Towards the end of this letter. It's wild. [00:20:39] Speaker A: Yes. Yeah. He talks about going up to the different heavens. And again, a passage we often just glance over because we don't quite know what to do with this. But here. So you're talking about communal experience. [00:20:52] Speaker B: So first of all, can I just read it out? For we do not proclaim ourselves. We proclaim Jesus Christ as lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus sake. For it is the God who said, let light shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It's extraordinary. So there's this reference back to the first creation story, light coming out of darkness. So it's like the same God, the same epic source of all, the composer of all who's now shining in not just my heart. Our heart. [00:21:23] Speaker A: Yes. [00:21:25] Speaker B: And I particularly love this reference to the face of Jesus because Paul hasn't met the historical Jesus. [00:21:31] Speaker A: No. [00:21:31] Speaker B: So this, to me implies something of having seen a vision of the. I mean, it's a wondering. We can't prove that, but it's certainly a. An interesting language choice to make. [00:21:40] Speaker A: Yeah, it is. [00:21:41] Speaker B: It's palpable. Like this experience of the risen Jesus who is changing our hearts. [00:21:48] Speaker A: Yeah. No, and like you say, the we there is really important. And he continues with this. We have this. I love this image. The treasure in clay jars. [00:21:56] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:21:57] Speaker A: So he's sort of drawing on culturally at the time, you would put ordinary things in clay jars, but you would put treasures in highly decorated. So if you've ever seen some of those, you know, highly illustrated greek vases in museums, what you might expect for treasure. But again, it's tapping into this heart stuff. Right? Like we ourselves might be as plain as clay jars. We, the community, we're not wealthy, we're not glamorous. We're not, you know, and we might ask some questions about churches who think being wealthy and glamorous is the most important thing. [00:22:29] Speaker B: We certainly might. [00:22:32] Speaker A: But the treasure in the hearts is this gospel that he's proclaiming and that is precious even when it's in a plain wrapping. [00:22:39] Speaker B: Exactly. So it's enlivening, it's transformative, but it's also costly. So it's the living and dying it goes on to talk about. And I think that that's, again, a really helpful reminder, because for Paul and other New Testament writers, the world is not neutral. Like there are forces of death. And we can think about that in a whole range of ways, whether it's political or cosmic forces or personal kind of dwelling in ways of life that are not helpful. And then there is the way of life. And so in Galatians, it stepped out, you know, the fruit of the spirit. So the fruit actually does. The spirit actually does something. It bears fruit in us. And it's, you know, gifts that aren't spectacular gifts as in status giving gifts. They're like humility and kindness and self control. Like that's what this treasure is. And then, but there are other forces at work which lead to competition and grasping and so on. And so this notion of being the people who are enlightened by Jesus, to live in a particular way while there are other forces at work. [00:23:36] Speaker A: Yep, that's right. And to know, as you said, that that way is costly. Like we saw in the Samuel reading. And there's lots of resonances for me between this and the Samuel reading, this light in the darkness, the knowledge. But, you know, he talks about being afflicted, being forsaken, being struck down because we carry this Jesus in our bodies. And, you know, again, it just makes me think, talking to people like Brooke, Prentice and other aboriginal christian leaders will talk about the cost, you know, any prophetic, we'll talk about the cost of this constant naming of injustice. That's trying to call people to reconciliation, trying to invite people into conversation and relationship to listen. But that comes at constant, enormous personal cost. It's exhausting. [00:24:21] Speaker B: Exhausting. And over years. Yes. So it's not, I think our culture, we're so constantly for these ideas of instant, not just instant gratification, but instant results. [00:24:30] Speaker A: Yeah. We want quick fixes. Right. [00:24:32] Speaker B: Rather than. So our call, imagine, you know, what if our call is to speak for justice and we actually don't get to see the fruit, I think it's having that kind of disposition. It doesn't matter because the light of Christ is what infuses me. It's not outcomes. [00:24:48] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:24:49] Speaker B: Like, that's a really different set of values. [00:24:52] Speaker A: And if you trace, again, thinking of the reconciliation week theme, if you trace, you know, leaders who've been there through pivotal movements of change and justice, whether it's your Martin Luther King Junior or, you know, whether it's Gandhi or Mandela or Archbishop Desmond Tutu or. Now, Americans may well be very familiar with the leadership of William Barber, who started the moral Mondays movement, but, I mean, he's now quite well known, but worked tirelessly for decades before anyone really paid attention to the on the ground. So this grassroots ministry can take years, and we don't always see the fruits. [00:25:29] Speaker B: Yeah. And there are indigenous leaders in Australia who have gone before, who have set a foundation for us even beginning to have the conversation. But there's still so much work to do. [00:25:37] Speaker A: So much work. Well, we've left a few minutes to discuss Mark, chapter two. Two little pericopes here, Sally. [00:25:45] Speaker B: Yes. So go. You go first. [00:25:48] Speaker A: Okay. Well, I think context, again, important. So the lectionary has taken us all over the place during the Easter season, and now we're going to get a string of marks. So we're kind of pivoting. Mark, Sally, and I love Mark, so we're happy. So important to remember in this gospel that one of the things Jesus declared early on in chapter one is his message. He came proclaiming, the kingdom of God has come near. And what we see immediately, I mean, we're only in chapter two and three here, is that when one proclaims and embodies the kingdom, you immediately hit conflict. So in Mark, it's conflict with the demonic, with evil. It's going to be conflict with the political powers that be here. We're seeing some conflict with the religious. [00:26:34] Speaker B: Authorities and his own family. [00:26:35] Speaker A: And his own family. [00:26:36] Speaker B: Yeah, and village. Yeah, yeah. And so part of that context, too, is that while Mark doesn't have a big nativity scene or a poem like at the beginning of John's gospel, as Robin said, from the beginning, it's the announcing of the kingdom. But as part of that. Not but. And as part of that is Jesus authority. So this is the authoritative one, the holy one. So we don't have, you know, angels and shepherds and so on. But in mark, absolutely front and center, Jesus is still the holy one, the God one, who has the authority to proclaim the kingdom and embody the kingdom, authority to teach, authority to liberate from evil, authority to cleanse. And here people are not enjoying this authority. [00:27:13] Speaker A: No. So we have two different scenes that both center around what is permissible on the Sabbath. So the broader theme is, how do we adhere, be faithful to the law? And the first thing I want to say is, whatever we do this Sunday, we do not need to make Jesus look good by making the Pharisees out to be cheap caricatures of rigid and nasty people. The Pharisees were interpreters of the law, key jewish leaders, and for them, being faithful was protecting the commandments. And the commandments include keep the Sabbath. [00:27:49] Speaker B: Absolutely. And the capacity for humans across religions, including Christianity, to turn law into legalism is rife. We see it in our own tradition as well. [00:28:01] Speaker A: Totally. [00:28:02] Speaker B: I think what you've just said is so important, Ron, particularly in our political climate right now with the crisis in Gaza. I'm deeply concerned that there is a risk often of slipping into anti semitism. It's very different to critique the israeli government from making anti jewish statements. As Christians, I think we need to really guard against that, so to speak, for people of Gaza or speak up, but also to not at any point be slipping into a hatred of jewish people. [00:28:31] Speaker A: That's right. And so just to be very careful and remember that Jesus here is a jewish man talking with other jewish leaders about how to interpret their shared tradition. In the same way we have internal christian debates about how best to be faithful to whatever our traditions are. Right, including whether we sing hymns or choruses or other kind of things that we get very upset about. [00:28:52] Speaker B: Well, let's. I know we've only got a tiny bit of time, but let's talk about Sabbath for a second, because I feel like we have exactly replicated what's happening in this, in the church. So people, older people listening might, or if they've grown up in particular context where they weren't allowed to play on Sundays or they weren't allowed to listen to music or go out. So some kind of reducing this call to rest, which is extraordinary. [00:29:15] Speaker A: It is. It's a gift. [00:29:16] Speaker B: Lington would say, do you know what I want you to do? I want you to rest every week. And this radical for 24 hours, everyone, the slaves, animals, aground. You rest like that is the most extraordinarily beautiful gift. And yet we. So I think a lot of people don't observe Sabbath, partly probably because they may react against that notion of I want to play music or I want to go and play, or I want to play sport or whatever, as if. [00:29:39] Speaker A: Play and rest are not intertwined. [00:29:41] Speaker B: That's right. So we've done exactly the same kind of reading in many churches as Jesus is critiquing here. So I feel like this is a beautiful challenge to us, though, to all of us. Are we actually being faithful about Sabbath? Are we letting ourselves rest? It might not be as one whole chunk day, but are we getting our diaries out and putting in chunks of time for rest in whatever that looks like for us, whether it's play or sport or music or cooking or the. [00:30:08] Speaker A: Things that are life giving and community building. [00:30:10] Speaker B: And about not proving our worth, though. [00:30:12] Speaker A: Yes, exactly. No, I think that's right. And I mean, and there's a great line in here about the Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath. So again, I mean, we could take it in the direction you've just suggested, which I think is wonderful, and it is something us protestant Christians have deeply failed to do, is keep any kind of meaningful Sabbath. But the other question it provokes in me is, again, that self examination. In what ways are our faith communities, or even we as individuals, the kind of often for the best of intentions, but the gatekeepers of certain things where we're not prepared to let go of our own sort of so called sacred traditions. I'm using their quotes here, the things that are precious. And we become very legalistic, like, it's not church if we don't do these three things in this precise way. And who are we excluding when we do that? So I think there are ways that christians continue to do this kind of stuff. The story mark tells here, he's probably got the name of the high priest wrong. It's a story from one Samuel 21, I think it is, where David does ask the priest, it's a different priest ahimelech for bread. And he's told there's only holy bread left, and actually says, well, I'm on a holy mission for the king. And my men haven't been with women, which is a sign of purity, and so the priest gives it to them. So there's something here about. I think that background's interesting if you're going to preach this, because actually it's framing Jesus and his disciples eating grain in the line of King David and on a mission for the king. Right? So the king being God. So that context is actually quite interesting, as in the second one with the healing. There are jewish texts that talk about, you can heal on the Sabbath if it's to save a life. And Jesus is picking up on that in verse four. Is it lawful to do good or harm to save a life or kill? Because he knows they're going to say, well, you can save a life. Right? That's agreed territory. Now, whether a withered hand is killing. [00:32:14] Speaker B: You is it could in terms of symbolically in your participation in life or. [00:32:20] Speaker A: Exactly. And in the ancient world, any kind of sickness or impairment can be life threatening. [00:32:24] Speaker B: Exactly. And so again, just reiterating that sense of Jesus being jewish, drawing from jewish text and tradition to engage with these leaders. [00:32:34] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:32:34] Speaker B: It's not a dismissal of. It's a reframing or a reorientation with. Which is what happens in the prophets all the time. I think that's the other thing I would like to highlight, is that just in one, Samuel, there's a critique of the religious elite not getting it right. Like, it's not new that Jesus would be in conflict with religious elite. Like as a. [00:32:54] Speaker A: As a prophetic figure. Yeah, no, that's right. And here he's calling them back to almost a kind of a heart meaning of the Sabbath. [00:33:00] Speaker B: Amen. [00:33:01] Speaker A: Which is the Sabbath is for life giving activities, and whether that's eating food or healing and restoring life, restoring life, that's part of Sabbath gift. [00:33:11] Speaker B: And I know just as we conclude, just thinking about that work of justice and how exhausting it is. What a gift, an invitation to take up Sabbath within the battle, within the fight. Because if people continue to work for justice and hoping that when it's achieved, then they'll rest, there'll be no rest, like the work of justice is ongoing. But to. To know that we can pause is actually an expression of trust in God, that it's not all up to us. God is at work. I am beloved. I need to rest. And I'm called to rest. [00:33:39] Speaker A: Yep. So, because it's reconciliation week, we're going to give the last word to Brooke Prentice, who has some really practical tips for those of you, particularly in the australian context, who might like to think of what you could do on this particular Sunday to kind of stand in solidarity and friendship with aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander siblings. [00:33:59] Speaker B: Exactly. And some of those things, you might not be able to do them all for this Sunday. You can continue to explore them with your congregation. [00:34:05] Speaker A: Exactly. So here's Brooke. I know you've done a lot of thinking and work, Brooke, on how non indigenous people can be allies and friends in this process, and you're actually writing a book about that. Can you suggest one or two things, like very practical things? I think I've heard you talk about that people can do in their churches that might, you know, if an indigenous person was to walk in, might help them feel more welcome, but might also just keep reminding people of the context we're in here. What can those small acts of reconciliation look like? [00:34:45] Speaker C: Yeah. So, you know, the space and place is really important. So I'd love to see the AIaTSis indigenous map of Australia on the wall. Of every church. Beautiful conversation starter. You know, for National Reconciliation Week, you might go and get the aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Islander flag. They're actually free for a church from your local federal member. You just need to go in there and you'll get the australian flag as well. But you don't need to spend $80 to buy the flag. A church can get them for free from your local federal member. And what a great experience of the local church going into your local federal member to build a relationship and to get those flags and to put them on display, because they're a sign of welcome for our people. And it might just be to get a little pin of the aboriginal flag. They're not political symbols. These are a sign of welcome for our peoples. It might be that you have some aboriginal artwork, take it into church and put it on display. And, you know, when you're actually doing your sermon, can you quote an aboriginal Christian leader in your sermon? You know, you can google now, I've built many resources over the years, and you just need to put in aboriginal Christian leader quote on reconciliation and a whole range of things will come up. The one I love is Pastor Sir Doug Nichols, an incredible aboriginal Christian leader of the past. And Pastor Sir Doug said, you can play a tune on black keys, you can play a tune on white keys, but both are needed for perfect harmony, and that's our reconciliation coming together and with creative elements. So please find one thing to do. [00:36:40] Speaker A: By the well is brought to you by Pilgrim Theological College and the Uniting church in Australia. It's produced by Adrian Jackson. Thanks for listening.

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