Sunday 3rd October - The Eye of a Needle

Opening words:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.


Hymn 975 Before the throne of God above

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MUNywhsZPU


Prayers

Lord God, the rich man had obviously been pondering. His thoughts brought him to his knees before you. He thought eternal life was something he could achieve. But he suspected there was more to know. And he was right! We come today with our ponderings, to bow before you, to ask you to meet with us here, and teach us with words of eternal life. Amen.

God of all relationships, God of solved problems, you care so much for each one of us. We praise and worship you, O God. Whether our problems feel tiny, and hardly worth bothering you with, or huge – just huge – you are always there for us. We praise and worship you, O God. All things are possible with you most mighty God, you are the God of eternal life, you are always at the heart of all our concerns. We praise and worship you, O God. Amen.

Lords Prayer


Hymn 590 Seek ye first the kingdom of God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFxZeY2D5tc


Bible Readings

Amos 5.6-7,10-15; Psalm 90.12-17; Hebrews 4.12-16; Mark 10.17-31


Comment

Jesus has often talked about giving everything up and following him, our Bible Study the other week looked at how the disciples gave up everything and followed Him. This story we have looked at today about the rich young ruler is about what you will give up to follow Him.


There was a story which I read online recently about a family with a disabled son who required constant care. To secure his future they sold up their home and raised money to establish a house in which he and a handful of other disabled people and carers could live securely. Although this is not a story about giving up everything to follow Jesus, is it perhaps an example of the kind of sacrifice Jesus speaks of, and also of the unintended (at the beginning) and positively wonderful consequences of doing so, helping not just their son but also people in similar situations.


I wonder what might stop us from following Jesus? Is it our money, not how much we have but how much we worship it? Is it that we like time to ourselves? Is it that we don’t think we can do the things that are being asked of us? Remember God and Jesus gave up everything for us – so why do we hold back?

The story of the rich young man could be seen to be saying that rich people cannot have eternal life or a share in God’s kingdom. Jesus is quite clear in his direction: go and sell everything; and, of course, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ So, are all rich people doomed? And how rich is rich?

But looking a little more closely we see that the man’s problem was not the fact that he had great wealth, but the importance this had in his life. Jesus’ directive to give up his riches was not a statement about wealth or even lifestyle, it was a challenge about what took priority in the man’s life. And that was his wealth. Although he wanted to inherit eternal life, and although he knew God’s commandments and the Law of Moses, his riches were more important to him.


Why was this? Perhaps it was the status, security, comfort, or power they gave him. Whatever it was, it got in the way of his relationship with God. It prevented him developing or deepening that relationship. That is the challenge posed here. Whatever it is that gets in the way of developing or deepening our relationship with God is the equivalent for us of the rich man’s wealth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBuKYAN4yTA watch the video that explains this in a humourous way.


It wasn’t that the camel couldn’t get through the gate it was that there were things, baggage strapped to his back that meant he couldn’t get through the gate. Once he was stripped of his baggage he could get through the gate. When we take the baggage from our lives and are free to worship and follow then we too well be able to pass through the small gate – the eye of the needle- and walk into a relationship with God that will bring us to eternal life.

No one can earn the right to eternal life. The rich man stood no chance – and not because of his riches. It is not possible. Not possible for mortals, for humans, that is. But with God, all things are possible. Jesus’ words remind us that God’s kingdom is open to everyone who puts God at the centre of all they do. Who puts God at the centre of all they do, what strikingly important words, putting Jesus first, giving to Him the best of us, not pleasing ourselves and then giving to God that which is left. We know this is the truth and yet we all struggle to really do this, we are but work in progress trying our best to put Him first.


The reading from Hebrews helps explain how God makes it possible for us to inherit eternal life. The passage begins with an image that we may find disturbing that of a sharp sword piercing a body (v.12). We may feel uncomfortable being told that God sees everything we do. Psalm 139 gives us the same thoughts but in a more positive manner. God knows us, we cannot hide from Him, He knows the thoughts, concerns, worries and desires of our hearts without us uttering a word. This is both comforting and concerning. Hebrews implies that He will judge us but that is not the real case for God knows the real person not in order to dismiss or judge them but to rescue them, and to pave the way so that they can ‘approach the throne of grace with boldness’ (v.16).


In Hebrews, judgement is not all about being condemned; it is intended to return a ‘not guilty’ verdict. But for this to happen, we have to trust ourselves to Jesus (the great high priest) who has paved the way and reshaped us and given us permission to be our true selves. This then is how we can achieve eternal life, by offering ourselves to God and being filled with His spirt, a spirit which enables us to be ourselves and to be free. Before the throne of God above we will receive His mercy and His grace.

This is how it is possible to inherit eternal life.

Amen


Hymn 678 There’s a quiet understanding

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqJ-JY3-nfU


Prayers

Loving God we bring into your tender care all families in which there is discord. We pray for those who live with tension and distrust, with faithlessness and abuse. Bring healing to broken relationships and reconciliation to those who feel hurt. Help us all to accept the variety of family models which make up our world and not to judge one another.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God we pray for those who grieve a loved one especially those who have been killed. We remember the family of Sabina Nessa and all those whose loved ones have been victims of street violence. We pray that all people will respect one another and that everyone may be able to walk the streets in safety.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God we thank you for the family of nations. Today we pray for the people of Germany for those negotiating to form a new government. May they rule in justice and compassion. We pray for the leaders of Afghanistan that they will respect the human rights of their citizens and foster tolerance and peace.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God we pray for the victims of the earthquake in Crete, for the family of the man who died, for those who were injured and for all whose lives and well-being have been affected. May your love give peace to those who are suffering and give vision and determination to those who seek to rebuild homes and communities.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God we bring to you the crisis concerning gas prices and its impact on our communities. We pray for those who are concerned that increased gas prices will reduce them to food poverty. Guide the companies and the government that a fair and equitable conclusion may be reached. Comfort and strengthen those who are worried about their future.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God we pray for all who are sick. We continue to pray for those who are suffering as a result of Covid-19 for their families and for all health professionals. We pray that the vaccination programme may be successful in minimising the number of people who catch the virus.

God of all families, bring wholeness and peace.

Loving God, unite us as your family: may the stronger offer support, the wealthier share what they have, the church offer hope and all your children live together in peace. God of all, in your name we pray. Amen.


Hymn 799 All I once held dear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Merf00qcQik


Grace

1016 The heart of worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XsB0ltXmRs