|Pen and Ink Reflections||
I’ve been in two minds the last couple of days about which of the two sets of Australian Anglican lectionary readings for today to use. In the end I‘ve gone for marking the feast of the Holy Cross, for which incidentally there is no alternative in the Church of England’s lectionary for today. Does this perhaps perhaps a stronger Reformed emphasis in the Australian Anglican Church? If so, I have some sympathy. For there is a danger that the cross can become objectified, even venerated as an artefact, rather than being at the existential, metaphysical heart of Christian faith. The feast of the Holy Cross, in my view, is certainly one of those adiaphora, or non-essential, elements which are neither commanded nor proscribed by a healthy reading of holy Scripture. Yet, to that extent, it any yet assist us more deeply into the paschal mystery at the centre of our Faith. After my own theological wrestling with this, let me therefore briefly offer three, good Anglican, reasons for marking the feast today…
Unlike the somewhat gentler version of the Beatitudes in Matthew’s account, Luke's account of Jesus’s core teaching leaves us in little doubt of his bias to the poor. He declares as blessed exactly those whom most of us would account as unfortunate, and pronounces woes on all those who like most of us, enjoy a comfortable life. It is small wonder then that the first followers of Jesus were mostly poor, slaves, disenfranchised and disabled. I wonder if we, comfortable western Christians, really believe him...
by Penny Jones, Pentecost 9 Year A
At first sight it may seem odd that the lectionary brings together today the two great stories of the selling of Joseph into slavery and of Jesus walking on the water and saving Peter. They are both rich stories, full of connection to our own lives of faith, yet what unites them?
Well let's notice first the parallels between the story of Joseph and the story of Jesus - parallels that would have been immediately obvious to Matthew's readers, which we tend to forget. In both their stories we find the motif of the hero who is envied, betrayed, left for dead and yet rises again. Joseph is betrayed and sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver. Judas who was a shrewd keeper of the purse obviously allowed for inflation when he betrayed Jesus for thirty. Both stories are telling us that spiritual leaders who claim a direct line to God and speak truth to power, tend to find themselves very unpopular. Indeed there is that in human nature which seeks to kill the divine when it is seen in humanity. We recognise the truth of this as we look back over history to the great martyrs of our faith, all of whom have suffered and died for their refusal to accept the ways of the world. So the story of Joseph is if you like an archetypal story, a story that reveals patterns of human behaviour that are true for all times and places. And his story foreshadows the story of Jesus, just as the stories of later martyrs recapitulate that same story, tell it over again. It is a story of dying and rising. A story whose pattern is recognised and known deep within every human being, and found in its simplest form in our own bodies' rhythms of inhalation and exhalation. This is why the story has power for us, because it is our story, our truth that gives shape to our living...