Reading: Job 23:1-9; 16 – 17 When things go wrong…
Job is sometimes difficult to understand. It looks as though God rewards Job’s faithfulness with the worst things that could happen to anyone. By the end of the first chapter he has lost everything that made life good. But Job then turned the whole story on its head by refusing to blame God for what happened to him. The story of Job is the story of a man who walks through the darkest of days with God at his side and refuses to blame God for his ill fortune. Job clings to his faith and continues to believe that God gives nothing but good to his people. The story of Job shows the darkest of times can shed light all around.
Maggie Keswick Jencks was diagnosed with cancer. She survived, but five years later it had returned. Sitting with her husband in a dark and windowless corridor to process the news that it was terminal, Maggie felt that there should be something better than that. With the help of friends they created a blueprint for a centre beside the hospital cancer department that was warm and welcoming. When Maggie died the blueprints were on her bed. That was twenty -five years ago. Now there are many Maggie’s Centres, and at the heart of them is Maggie’s own belief that nobody should “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”
With all that has happened in the world in the last eighteen months, alongside fears of climate change, wars and natural disasters it is easy to focus on all that is wrong, and dark and difficult, in human life. Yet, within God’s world there is always hope. At the top of Bradham Road someone put a sheet early in the first lockdown, painted with a bright rainbow and the words “Hope is not closed” God is hope. John wrote “The light shone out in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it..” On the wall of a African Christian Aid office was a poster that said “A Candle is a protest at midnight; it is a non-conformist. It says to the darkness “I beg to differ” In the darkness God is here, offering hope in a world of things that we cannot control.
Reading: Mark 10:17-31 For God possibilities are endless…
The young man in our Gospel story went away downcast. What Jesus asked of him was too much – he was rich, and his life was focussed on his possessions and his status. He wanted to follow Jesus – but with strings attached. Then the disciples also seemed to be a bit obsessed with their own status. Neither realised that there is no wealth or status before God. Everyone is equal.
Often there are things that happen in life that we have to learn to live with, accept and move on. Covid was unexpected, unwanted and changed our lives so much. My regret has been that when churches were closed it did more harm than good. At a time when people were anxious and lonely we needed it. We did it to help each other, prevent the spread and save the NHS. But it left a gap – and for some alternative worship was sometimes a poor substitute.
The disciples were curious about the words of Jesus and the rich. If a rich man cannot enter the Kingdom then there was no hope for anyone they thought. They had given up everything him. But Jesus said that those at the bottom would be raised and I find that comforting. It makes me feel that my best may be good enough for God. I cling to the saying “God does not ask us to do the impossible. We are not God, and the impossible is God’s business. God only asks us to do what we can, when we can, as well as we can.” In response to Covid we have found ways to be the Church where we are, to be and do whatever we were able to do in this moment in time, right now. The hope of God is that we can do something, because doing something small is always better than doing nothing at all. Small things done by many could have a big impact. Nothing is hopeless!
For God nothing is impossible. God’s work is the impossible. Ours is to take care of the small things so that hope in the faithfulness of God may take care of the impossible.
Revd Barbara Bennett