Thought for the month
It’s true of any biblical passage that the only way to understand a biblical extract is to do so sitting down on a three-legged stool in which
- one leg is the biblical text
- a second leg is the context in which the story happens
- and the third leg is made up of all the co-texts, the other things that are said or happen around the particular passage.
Because it’s only when we bring all three legs of that stool together that the full meaning of the biblical passage emerges.
To put it another way, when we ignore one of the three legs, when we only read the text and ignore the context, when we cherry-pick a text as if it had no co-texts, then we can be sure that our reading will be unsteady, our interpretation wobbly and our take on the passage likely to come crashing down.
To find out what happened yesterday when Michael Paterson invited us to sit on the interpreter’s three-legged stool to consider Mark 10.2–16, and the reason for our hymn-line title, you’ll have to go to this link!
Acknowledgement: our three-legged stool comes from a Christward Collective blog.
Our fundamental purpose is to love one another. Our mission is to love the world. It is not to get more members. If more people join us because they see the value of what we are doing, if they see that what we believe actually bears fruit, if our faith is reflected in our works, then that is great – and with more members we will be able to do more. But our mission is not to build up the Church, it is to serve the world.
I know many are fearful that the Church as an institution is dying; numbers are declining, especially amongst the young. It is not everywhere as bad as we sometimes think – there are green shoots in places – but we would be blind not to realise that the Churches face enormous difficulties. But if the Church is to die, it must be because it has given itself for God’s world, not because it had been so concerned with its own survival that the world has found it irrelevant.
To discover the reason for our choice of post title
read the whole of Jim Mein’s sermon at this link.
Every time we gather around the Lord’s table we hear the same four verbs over and over again: take, bless, break, share:
Jesus took bread / blessed it / broke it / and shared it
Jesus took wine / blessed it / poured it / and shared it
That’s the shape of the eucharist, and that’s the shape of the Christian life:
- to take our very lives and offer them to those around us
- to turn our lives into a blessing for others rather than an ego trip for ourselves
- to say Amen to being broken and used, to consent to our energies being uncorked and poured out to quench the thirst of others
- and to see every good thing we have ever received in life as a gift to be given away rather than stored up for ourselves.
Taken, blessed, broken, poured out and shared. It sounds like a lifetime’s work, and how much headway have you or I made?
Saying ‘Amen’ at the altar rail is easy. Saying ‘Amen’ to becoming communion for the world – to be taken, blessed, broken, poured out and shared is a much harder matter.
But glory be to him who at this table gives us a new start! Glory be to him who goes on offering himself to us even when we don’t return the favour! Glory be to him who always feeds us, despite the crumbs we offer in return! Glory be to him, who today at this table can turn you and me into people who, day by day, communion by communion, can bridge the gap between what we receive and who we are. Glory be to him, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we could ever think, hope, dream or imagine. Glory be to him in the Church and in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Extracted from a sermon preached by Michael Paterson at St Margaret’s on 29 July 2018
Our readings were 2 Kings 4.42–44, Ephesians 3.14–21 and John 6.1–21