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A message for the week starting on Sunday 13 November 2022

Lectionary Week: 23th Sunday After Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19 

Focus Text: Luke 21:5-19

Out of Our Discontent

Reading today’s texts, it is again easy to get despondent. The Bible surely does not sugar-coat difficulties! Wars, earthquakes, famine, harassment, betrayal, hate, even execution . . . For 12 verses, we hear how difficult things can be. And with every new calamity, I feel my shoulders hanging more. When we look around us in difficult times, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

But although the Bible is very honest about difficulties and the broken world we live in, we are never left without hope. In the last two verses we see hope shine through when everything seems hopeless: “Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. By holding fast, you will gain your lives.”

What does this ‘holding fast’ mean? Is this a fearful hanging on, an anxious clasping of the truth to our chests? This can very easily be our reaction. We also see this reaction amongst Christians. In Afrikaans we talk about “laer trek” – the protective measure of “circling the wagons” to protect oneself and your livestock. In difficult times it is easy to turn inwards to protect what we think is being threatened – whether this is a real or only a perceived threat.

Sometime back, I read a powerful quote on a friend’s Facebook wall, which challenged me to respond differently. “Out of our discontent, whatever its cause, we find ourselves dreaming of life as we think it ought to be. This combination is a tremendously powerful engine: discontent coupled with the capacity to envision better things. An engine of transformation. Which could be why we have been made this way.” – Br. Mark Brown, Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Maybe this is how we should “hold fast.” The Gospel according to Luke does not stop in these verses of despondency, it carries on to tell of the promise of new life. This message is repeated in some of the Old Testament texts of the week. God will never “stop” when there is no hope, but maybe He created us so that we can live in this tension of discontent and hope so that we can be His engine of transformation.

To think about: How should you “hold fast” to the message of new life and transformation this week?

Written by: Ms Lyn van Rooyen, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator, communication consultant and editor