|Pen and Ink Reflections||
A few weeks ago I asked a local rabbi what was the Jewish ‘take’ on Saul of Tarsus, otherwise known to Christian as St Paul. The rabbi said that there really wasn’t a view. Now he may not have quite understood what I was asking, or perhaps he was simply trying to be diplomatic and avoid controversy. For surely, over the centuries, Jews have had something to say about Paul, particularly when he has been regarded, in some Christian quarters, as an archetypal model of Jewish conversion. The rabbi’s response however was also suitably chastening. Christians may rightly hold Paul in high regard, even some awe. Why though would Jews have much consideration for him? He left the faith and, in doing so, no longer belonged to Jewish history. Judaism essentially simply moved on. Christians must therefore be careful not to read into our understanding of Jewish-Christian relationships particular aspects of St Paul which are precious to us. This is certainly something to be borne in mind when we hear biblical passages like this one from Acts chapter 13 today. Jewish-Christian relationships have always been much more complex than many people have often wanted them to be, and this is clear from the history of the first Christian centuries…
Jesus has come to his hometown. And of course everyone wants to see him and to hear their local hero speak. Next week we will hear how what he had to say next got him into trouble. But today we hear how he announces himself with words that must have been music to their ears - indeed the very next verse reads, 'and all spoke well of him'.
Jesus reads the words of Isaiah and takes them as his own mission statement - 'today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing " he says. It is a scripture that talks about good news for the poor, release to the captive, sight for the blind, and freedom for the oppressed.' Now most of his listeners would have counted themselves among the poor and oppressed, so no wonder they were pleased...
by Jon Inkpin, for Pentecost 18 Year A, Sunday 12 October 2014
This Friday, Bishop Cameron Venables spoke at our city Peace Forum on the subject of ‘Building Bridges – Sharing Humanity - Everyone Matters’. As a visual illustration he brought a teapot. Why a teapot? Well, what do we do we with a teapot? We make a cup of tea, don't we? Making a cup of tea, sharing hospitality, even with those very different from us – isn’t this a very simple but powerful way to build bridges, share our common humanity, and ensure that everyone matters? That is certainly my experience, not least recently. The Islamic Society literally offered a cup of tea in friendship recently to myself and other community leaders. A week yesterday, on St Francis’ day, Dawn and Phil helped reciprocate,, by offering afternoon tea to our Muslim friends, as we recalled Francis’ prophetic meeting of peace with the Sultan in the midst of the Crusades. This week, it was a wonderful delight for some of us to share a table together with our Palestinian Christian visitor, with Jews, Muslims and many others, in a Buddhist monastery of all places. This is part of what it is to be a city of peace and harmony in our troubled contemporary world. So who will each of us share a cup of tea with this week? Who will be at our table? For sharing the infinite hospitality of God: this is the heart of the good news of Jesus, even if today’s Gospel story seems (Matthew 22.1-15) to sit a little oddly with it….