Submitted by Jan on Tue, 13/10/2015 – 10:37
Year B (2014-2015)
Bible Book: Job
Verse: 1 – 7
Readings: Job 38:1-7 (34-41); Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
When I read the book of Job, I can’t imagine that anybody can go through so much pain and anguish and keep their hope and sanity. What can be worse than all Job’s losses? What can get worse than all this pain?
Worse than physical and emotional pain, is good friends with easy answers about God, life and pain. Good friends that tell him how bad he was/is and now suffers this affliction. Easy answers that cloud his insight into the complexity of his own situation. Easy answers that tries to stop his struggle with God and life. Easy answers that prematurely end the birth process of his new understanding of life and God. (see Job 4 – 37)
God hushes the lightweight words of his friends like a whirlwind that removes all rubbish in it’s way. God starts His conversation with Job, not by giving answers, but by asking difficult questions. When there is pain, loss, grief…God doesn’t sing the lies of lullabies. God asks difficult questions to heighten the reality and complexity of the brokenness.
Don’t make it easier. Don’t give quick fix answers. The wisdom in life is to grapple with God – about life, God, pain, illness. The complexity of the brokenness drives you to a point of total helplessness. Which in turn is also the point of total dependence. A place of birth and rebirth. A place of creation and recreation. A place of living with my pain and learning from it, rather than getting over it.
Jesus lived as a friend of the broken. The church has always tried to be a witness of “what a friend we have in Jesus” through our WITHNESS with the broken and the hurt. We have failed numerous times with feather light quick fix answers to the challenges of our times. Maybe, regarding HIV, there has been a too simplistic approach by governments, leaders, communities and churches – no wonder it could not withstand the whirlwinds of challenges. Maybe it is time to listen to the difficult questions God asks about the complexity of our brokenness:
GENDER – The way we (our society and leaders) think and talk about woman has a direct influence on HIV.
SEX – The way we (our society and leaders) think and talk (and don’t talk) about sex will shape the HIV challenges of the future.
ECONOMY/LABOUR – The way we (our society and leaders) structure our economy, has an influence on our labour force, has an influence on the amount of migrant workers, has an influence on the amount of corporate jetsetters – has a direct influence on sexual habits of sexual beings.
DEVELOPMENT – The way we (our society and leaders) have “developed” certain people, cultures, economies…has created more brokenness…
SOCIAL STRUCTURES – The way we (our society and leaders) hand out grants to compensate for brokenness and in the end maintaining it; instead of educating, empowering en guiding people will create an unhealthy society.
The other lectionary texts ask difficult questions to a church who are quick to blame, shame or give easy answers. In the reading from Hebrews we read of Christ as the COMPASSIONATE high priest (5:2) who practiced a WITHNESS in their suffering and burdens. His words were cries and tears and pleadings directed to God in prayer for those with whom He had compassion. The gospel reading (Mark 10:35-45) confronts a church who are preoccupied by power, status, achievements and gain. Christ asks the question “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” and then He shows them the way “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
As the body of Christ we’ll have to follow Him, as a body taken, blessed, broken and handed out.
To think about: Apparently Jesus asked 307 questions through the four Gospels. In return He was asked 183 questions of which He only answered 3. People are quick to say “Jesus is the answer!” It seems that Jesus wanted to be the difficult question to a world gone wrong. Are you an answer giver or question asker?
Written By: Ds. Pieter Roeloffse, Pastor at Dutch Reformed Church of Prince Alfred’s Hamlet
Author: Roelofse P (Rev)