|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Last year SBS Insight told some of the diverse personal stories of faith, loss of faith, and changing faith, in contemporary Australia. One was of a young Croatian Australian woman who has committed her life to God through a faithful adherence to Islam, including covering her head and body in conservative traditional dress. In this she has found a profound sense of peace and flourishing. Some significant resistance has however come her way. She experiences some of the continuing Islamophobia within our society, and, in addition, strong extra kickback from some white Australians, not least fellow Croatians. For what, some would say, is a nice, white, western, and well educated, young woman doing taking up such a religious path? Is this not also, some would say, a betrayal of her family, and culture, too? After all, religiously speaking Croatians are almost exclusively Christian, and in particular Catholic. What on earth is this young woman doing? What is happening here? We might say something similar of the stories in our lectionary this morning, each of which involves a breaking with powerful expectations, and a profound response to needs of salvation which are simply not met by conventional culture or practice. Abraham, Sarah, Matthew, the synagogue official, and, not least, the hemorrhaging woman: each challenge us. They invite us to reflect upon what is bleeding in our own lives, hearts and souls, and invite us to reach our in faith ourselves. For what are our needs that require transformation? What salvation do we seek? What of God is calling to us?...
Jesus grows fast doesn’t he – born on Tuesday, 12 by Sunday! We are still within the Christmas season, but today Luke’s gospel brings us the only story of Jesus’s childhood recorded in the official canon. There are many legends of course – from Jesus fashioning little clay birds and bringing them to life to darker tales of injury and even death brought upon playmates who crossed him. But rightly none of these Harry Potter-esque tales is in our Bible because they do not relate to his later ministry and character.
So, what about this single story of Jesus as a 12 year old – the year in which Jewish children assume adult responsibility? It is almost certainly a constructed story – a story designed by Luke to teach us something about Jesus and something about discipleship. Within it both Jesus himself and to a lesser extent Mary are examples for us to follow. This story tells us a great deal about being lost and found; and we too need to lose things in order to find others that may be more important...
When are where did you receive a ‘call’ to a new ministry in the Church? Did it come gradually upon you, or was there a particular turning point? For what it is worth, in my case it has probably happened over a period of time. However I do remember getting on a train in rural Lincolnshire to travel to Birmingham to stay with some friends. Such a cross-country journey can often be a little grueling, for UK train lines which do not involve London are typically less speedy and more complicated. So it was that five hours of stop and starts provided me with plenty of time for reflection, at the end of which a new sense of vocation had been planted in me. If Margaret Thatcher had no time for the old nationally owned British Rail, God clearly did! In what way though, if any, do our own calls to ministry compare with those of the disciples in today’s Gospel (Luke 5.1-11)?...