Proper 23

9th October 2022

Reflection (readings are below)

Today’s readings seem to have an overall theme of living lives worthy of God wherever and whoever and with whoever you are. 

Previously we have noted that Jeremiah bought a piece of land in Jerusalem to show his confidence that in the long run God’s people would return to that city. But before that would happen, Jeremiah knew the people would end up in exile. The people could just live mournful tragic lives waiting for the time to return to come – but that would be a waste of God’s gift of life. Instead Jeremiah counsels them to make themselves at home in their new place, to live to the full and to do so for the good of that land. By so doing God’s people will be showing in their lives the best that comes from God. They will be showing that whatever the circumstances God’s people are always positive and confident in their faith in God. And always appreciative of the gift of life.

In the Letter to Timothy, the writer is stressing the importance of Jesus Christ as being at the heart of the gospel. Whatever they endure, whatever circumstances they find themselves in, they can be confident that Jesus will stand by them – and even if they fail Jesus will still be there for them. They should always present themselves in the best possible way as faithful servants of Christ, and not wrangling over the how and the why between themselves. 

Whilst in today’s gospel, it is the least likely person who does the right thing, who honours God in the right way. 

And what might this say to us? Whoever and wherever we find ourselves we should seek to live life to the full following the ways of God, in union with – in step with – Jesus Christ. For us today that is in a country in which many people are facing a bleak winter with a real threat of being cold and hungry and unsure of the certainty of a roof over their head. We need to pray and act to care for our communities, being generous with what we have, showing solidarity with those in need, and campaigning to persuade those in positions of leadership to act with greater responsibility and compassion. 

We find ourselves in a country where biodiversity is under renewed threat – we hear of rivers being polluted, of woodlands being lost, of wildlife facing extinction, of soils loosing their ability to produce crops. We need to pray and act to care for our ecosystems , being generous with what we have, showing solidarity with those working to protect them, and campaigning to persuade those in positions of leadership to act with greater responsibility and compassion. 

We find ourselves in a world where many are facing hunger and starvation, homelessness and destitution arising from climate change, trade inequalities and a lack of justice. We need to pray and act to care for the most vulnerable – especially remembering how much of their suffering stems from our previous greed – being generous with what we have, showing solidarity with their demands  and campaigning to persuade those in positions of leadership to act with greater responsibility and compassion. 

Looking back over the last few Sundays, there is the call to promote the gospel, knowing that it stands for the kingdom values of love and mercy, justice and humility. There is the encouragement to trust in God, to hold on to hope – to be confident of the rightness of the values of God’s kingdom. There is the reminder to live joyful and find contentment with what we have. 

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Psalm 66:1-11

1 Be joyful in God, all you lands; *
sing the glory of his Name;
sing the glory of his praise.

2 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! *
because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3 All the earth bows down before you, *
sings to you, sings out your Name.”

4 Come now and see the works of God, *
how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

5 He turned the sea into dry land,
so that they went through the water on foot, *
and there we rejoiced in him.

6 In his might he rules for ever;
his eyes keep watch over the nations; *
let no rebel rise up against him.

7 Bless our God, you peoples; *
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

8 Who holds our souls in life, *
and will not allow our feet to slip.

9 For you, O God, have proved us; *
you have tried us just as silver is tried.

10 You brought us into the snare; *
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

11 You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water; *
but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.

2 Timothy 2:8-15

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David– that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.

Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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