Saturday, 21 August 2010

Why do People Love Laws so Much?

This week I have been asked to stand-in for a preacher who isn't able to fulfil his preaching appointment. When I checked the text for the day, (Sunday 22/08/2010), I realised it's about the exchanges between a Synagogue leader and Jesus Christ about healing on Sabath, Luke 13:10-17.

There are 5 episodes to the story;
1. The woman and her condition
2. The intervention of Jesus
3. The Synagogue leader's intervention
4. Jesus's second intervention
5. The reaction of the crowd

Of all the 5 episodes, the one thing I find fascinating is the Synagogue leader's intervention. He's found desperately defending the Law, thus reminding the congregation that there should be no activity on the Sabath.

The Synagogue leader is not desputing that Jesus has power of healing nor is he doubting that the woman has indeed been healed. So what is his concern, that the healing has happened on the Sabbath?

For the 18 years that the woman has been in this condition, it's obvious that she's been observing the Sabbath. Has the Sabbath healed her? Imagine if Jesus had told the woman, I am sorry I can't help you because it's Sabbath today. She would have gone home very disappointed and probably wouldn't turn up again.

Come on people! Whilst admitting that laws are important for humans, it's also worth noting that laws are made for the people, not people made for the Laws.

Friday, 13 August 2010

An Interview with the Apostle Peter

My name is Kobina Adoko, from Gtv News. We have a very important personality in the studio today. I will be interviewing him very soon about a very important topic, The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The story can be found in (Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9: 28-36, Mark 9:1-9)

Today we're fortunate to have in the studio one of the disciples who witnessed the event. He's no other person than Apostle Peter.
Peter, good morning and welcome. Thank you for joining us today.
Response: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Question: Why is it that your two friends, John and James couldn't join us?
Answer: They're granting interviews to other media houses.

Question: Some people accuse Jesus of discrimination for not taken the other nine disciples with him to the mountains. What do you think?
Answer: I think Jesus took the three of us with him because we were amongst the first to be called as disciples. I must say though that I wasn't actually called by Jesus. I was invited by my brother Andrew, and I think Jesus liked me so he allowed me to say. Also, you will remember when we went to the house of the Jairus to heal his daughter the three went in with Jesus. Again, the same three of us were with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I guess Jesus trusted us more than the other nine.

Question: For what reason did Jesus take you to the mountain?
Answer: You remember the day Jesus called me Satan? Hmmm! I'll never forget that day. Jesus called a meeting that morning and told us he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and be killed. In fact, I didn't want that to happen so I called him aside and rebuked him. Also, he had asked us about what people think of him so I guess he wanted us to see what he is really about.

Question: What really happened when you got to the mountain?
Answer: When we got there the three of us fell asleep and suddenly we were woken up by a powerful light and we saw Jesus face shining like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Then all of a sudden Moses and Elijah joined Jesus and the three were having a conversation.

Question: What do you think Jesus was talking about with those two gentlemen?
Answer: I think they were talking about His dying which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.

Question? What did you do when Jesus was conversing with the two gentlemen?
Answer? How stupid I was! I was confused and afraid so I said something like... Jesus this is fantastic, let's build three shelters; one for you, one for Moses and the other one for Elijah. Before I could finish speaking a big crowd covered us and we heard a voice saying "This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him". Then we found out that the two gentlemen had left.

Question: I understand Jesus warned you not to say anything about what you saw at the time.
Answer: Yes! He warned us not to say anything about it until he's dead and risen. So we only spoke about it after his death. I wrote extensively about it in my two letters (1&2 Peter), and John made it even clearer when he wrote in John 1:14b "we have seen his glory, the glory of one and only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.

What a fascinating story. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Peter: Thank you for inviting me. God bless you.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Giving Pledge

In the morning of Wednesday 4th August I sat down to look at the readings for the Sunday 8th August as I am preaching on that day. I read the bible passage out to the hearing of my wife and when I finished reading, we both agreed it’s a difficult text to preach on. Methodist Church discourages preachers from choosing to preach on themes other than what the Lectionary has provided. This means I will have to stick with the so-called difficult text. The text in question is Luke 12:32-40. “Do not be afraid, little flock; your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom”. This little word fear has done a lot of havoc to humanity. Therefore, the admonishing from Jesus to his disciples and all of us that we should not be afraid is a welcoming one. But the fear factor isn’t why I felt the text is difficult. The reasons why I said the text is difficult is the two commands found in the text. Command 1- (v33) Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Command 2- (v35) Be ready for whatever comes, dress for action and with your lamps lit. For the purpose of this article I will only discuss the command 1. In the 21st Century property grabbing society how best can I relay this text to the congregation that they should sell their possessions and give to the poor? I usually relate my sermon with contemporarily issues so while reflecting on this, there was breaking news which I thought I should consider. The breaking news was that - Thirty-four U.S. billionaires have pledged to give away at least 50 per cent of their wealth to charity as part of a campaign by investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Among the billionaires joining the campaign are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, banker David Rockefeller and investor Ronald Perelman. Interestingly, each individual giver has to write a letter of pledge stating why they wish to give such fortune to the charity. It’s worth checking “The giving pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”. Following therefore, from Luke’s gospel (Luke 12:33-34), 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. There is no much difference between selling your possessions and giving to the poor, and giving part of your wealth to the poor. My question therefore is would those billionaires giving the majority of their wealth to the poor means they have provided for themselves purses that won’t wear out, and have saved their riches in heaven? They have done almost exactly what Jesus requested haven’t they? Would the billionaires’ gesture therefore mean that they would be in good books of Christ? Moving on- what does Jesus mean by sell your possessions and give to the poor? What! That I can’t even own this laptop computer to write this blog? Still pondering over the command for the sermon on Sunday.