It used to be said that a pessimist is a man who wears bracers as well as a belt.
What is your basic outlook on life? Do you always expect the worst to happen? or are you always hopefully confident?
There are some people for whom everything they do is a bit of a game. They manage a bounce when others are feeling a bit gloomy. They don’t face the serious matters of life in a heavy, stodgy manner. They always manage to focus on the positive, the possibilities. Instead of listing all the reasons why “it can’t be done”, they are already planning “how it can be done”.
It is every parent’s nightmare - the moment your back is turned, the child has disappeared. As they get older, it may not be so much the question of “where are they?” but, “what are they up to?”
Jesus was twelve. The whole family had gone up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Setting off to return home to Nazareth, Joseph and Mary assumed him to be among their relatives and friends. But he wasn’t!
Anxiously, they returned to Jerusalem and searched for three days until they found him “in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Lk. 2.46).
Joseph and Mary were “astonished”. Perhaps we could find a few other expressions for their emotions too - “put out”, annoyed, “hopping mad”... I suspect that’s how we would have felt about the situation.
“Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (v. 48).
They knew, of course, that Joseph wasn’t his natural father at all, that he had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and was uniquely the Son of God. Yet for all practical purposes - and as far as the Nazareth community was concerned - Joseph was the father.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (v. 49).
The King James Bible has, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” The original misses out the final noun. Literally, it is, “about (or among) my Father’s things”.
Jesus was indicating to them that he knew his mission in life - they should have known it too!
The church has a mission, and we need to get down to business! Jesus’ final words put it this way, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28.18-20).
The recent Assembly decision on practising homosexual ministers has sent shock-waves throughout the Uniting Church. In the vote of members we had here in the Burdekin a few weeks ago, it is overwhelmingly clear that we oppose the ordination of practising homosexuals (97% against in Home Hill, 88% against in Ayr).
The opposition in Queensland is so strong that the Moderator has called a Special Synod which will take place on the second weekend of November. Your prayer for that Synod would be appreciated.
This issue has been on the agenda for more than fifteen years now and some are asking, Can’t we just ignore the Assembly decision and get down to business?
It isn’t as simple as that! The Basis of Union commits the Uniting Church to preaching and teaching that is “controlled” by the Bible. We are to offer God’s word of grace to people so that they can be forgiven and their lives transformed. That’s our commitment in the Burdekin. But nationally something very basic has been questioned - and even denied.
Twenty years later we see Jesus entering the Temple again and driving out the traders who were operating there under the aegis of corrupt religious leaders. “It is written”, he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’.” (Lk. 19.46)
Cleanse the Temple that it may again be a house of prayer and a witness to the living God.
God is calling us! Let’s get down to business!
© Peter J. Blackburn, Link, October 2003