St Peters Cathedral

The Very Reverend Peter Rickmann

Dear Friends in Christ
E te whanau a te Karaiti

"Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest"

A variety of themes and possibilities await us this week in our scripture readings. Abraham's servant seeks a wife for his master's son Isaac and a long journey along the lonely desert road is rewarded when he meets Rebekah at the well. St Paul wrestles with significant honesty and theological courage with the Torah that has been his bedrock for so many years and asks why did God give the law and just what was its role now in the light of Christ? Jesus aware of John the Baptist's incarceration, considers the paradox of each of them; one neither eating or drinking and accused of being demonic, Himself eating and drinking and thus is brush-stroked as a "glutton and a drunkard." Everything thankfully gets neatly rounded off with an assurance of our burden-laden lives finding some respite and rest in Christ. Today it would be easy to stay with the last scriptural feature of this morning's lectionary and to glide over the rest as mere preamble. Resist the temptation!

In a way the first story we encounter, read around the snippet we have offered today, should follow at the end; it is a story of comfort and hope that reveals something of the reward that faith in God brings. It can be a struggle to dig deep enough to find the treasure within it because, like so much of the Abrahamic story, the world of two thousand plus BCE is so different from our own but do have a dig! The servant's faith in his master and his masters God drives him on, such faith is rewarded and the quest across the desert proves successful. In a nutshell, if your journey feels like it is crossing the desert road right now, have faith in that which you seek in your travels and ensure that you going in God's direction with God.

St Paul's wrestling in Romans 7 has long been used as a way out as well as a cop out. St Paul is not entirely suggesting that we are locked in some kind of ongoing and persistent battle between flesh and spirit for which there is no way out, despite grace's rescue lines being thrown to us from this text, but rather perhaps there is a little more here. Replace "I" with Paul's notion of "Israel", another theological image emerges. Jesus the "drunkard and a glutton", again not so much merely a derogatory term for our Saviour, one who clearly likes to wine and dine as He taught causing offence to the Pharisees, but rather a term used to describe in Judaism the lifestyle of one of Israel's rebellious sons: Jesus did not confirm to the religious customs and practice of`his day - surely a challenge to us? Balancing conformity and rebelliousness is often the call to the followers of this "drunkard and glutton".

What a feast! Again!

Blessings in His service,

Your Dean
Peter

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