#BigRead, Week 3: Expectations

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Nibbles:

  • Think back over the previous week. Did you ‘eat your chocolate’, e.g. took a new action?
  • Think about what you expect when you go to church, e.g. from the building, the service, the other people, and how those expectations might impact your experience.
  • You might refer to: http://youtu.be/ZlR1ll0exBg

Main:

Expectations, expectations, expectations. Jesus turned the world on its head, smashing people’s perceptions.

Video:

Bible Reading:

God’s Law and Human Tradition

1 The Pharisees gathered round Jesus, together with some legal experts from Jerusalem. 2 They saw that some of his disciples were eating their food with unclean (that is, unwashed) hands.

3 (The Pharisees, you see – and indeed all the Jews – don’t eat unless they first carefully wash their hands. This is to maintain the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come in from the market, they never eat without washing. There are many other traditions which they keep: washings of cups, pots and bronze dishes.)

5 Anyway, the Pharisees and legal experts asked Jesus, ‘Why don’t your disciples follow the tradition of the elders? Why do they eat their food with unwashed hands?’

6 ‘Isaiah summed you up just right,’ Jesus replied. ‘Hypocrites, the lot of you! What he said was this:

With their lips this people honour me,
but with their hearts they turn away from me; 7 all in vain they think to worship me,
all they teach is human commands.

8 ‘You abandon God’s commands, and keep human tradition!

9 ‘So,’ he went on, ‘you have a fine way of setting aside God’s command so as to maintain your tradition. 10 Here’s an example: Moses said, “Honour your father and your mother,” and, “Any- one who slanders father or mother should die.” 11 But you say, “If someone says to their father or mother, ‘What you might get from me – it’s Korban!’” (which means, ‘given-to-God’), 12 you don’t let them do anything else for their father or mother! 13 The net result is that you invalidate God’s word through this tradition which you hand on. And there are lots more things like that which you do.’

Other translations: Mark 7: 1-13.

Reflection: Bridgitte Tetteh (Premier)

Last Christmas throughout the festive season I maintained a sea food diet (for those of you who don’t know that’s code for see food and eat it) the result, well, several items of my clothing had become rather snug. My worst fears were also confirmed when I stood on the bathroom scales. As the numbers appeared on the screen all I could think of was an old Caribbean rhyme a friend used to sing. ‘Big belly, skinny legs, Adrian walk like an Easter egg!).

As it happens, fictional Adrian and I shared a larger midriff. P.S. Did I just catch you looking at your own stomach…there’s no shame it you know. (Sorry I digress, it’s a terrible habit). Anyhoo back to the matter in hand, I decided to take action and sought advice from a fitness instructor, who assured me that by lurching into action in true James Bond style and following a set of rules, I will become healthier and in-turn develop the sought after surfboard stomach.

Rule number 1: no cakes, sweets, crisps or any other sweet snacking.

Rule number 2: nothing deep fried, buttered or battered.

Rule number 3: a minimum of 30 minutes exercise each day.

By the time we got to rule number 10, I must admit I had lost the will to live but my expectations were high and I decided to stick to it. However a month into my new routine, my regime had become all consuming. I spent hours and hours each week devoted to becoming body beautiful. My friends were not happy, they never saw me. My family were unhappy; I had become the dinner guest from hell. I had also become so tired my nightly prayers became an evening snooze. I feared my quest for improved health was slowly becoming a slavish pursuit of vanity. Had I lost sight of my original goal? Achieving better health and honouring the body that God had given me?Jesus says in the passage we read today ‘These people honour me with their lips, ? but their hearts are far from me.’ I wonder what in your life is preventing you from having a deeper spiritual life? Have you created rules and regulations which have taken you away from church, family or God?One quick story before I go…I once visited a church, walked in and found a seat (as you do) sat down, only to be told by a member of the congregation that I was sitting in Sister Heather’s seat! I had broken an unspoken rule and felt uncomfortable for the rest of the service, I never forgot that encounter, which is food for thought for us all.

Have you mortgaged your front pew? Or more seriously, are there human traditions you are holding on to, which have no Biblical basis? I encourage you to read further on in the chapter in verse 8 where there’s more Biblical wisdom to feast on.

P.S. Talking food…. in case you’re interested after adjusting the rules, I did manage to achieve my heath goals in a balanced way and am now the proud owner of semi-flat stomach (well you can’t have it all!).

#BigRead12: Week 3: Expectations: Bridgitte Tetteh by bigbible

Questions

  1. What rules do you live by?
  2. How can living by rules draw us nearer to God?
  3. In what ways is important is it for Christians to be set apart?
  4. Which do you prefer: the gospel or grace or the gospel of law, and why?
  5. What’s the most important thing in this passage?

Pudding:

Hot: Is it OK to break the rules? Which ones?

We’d suggest looking at the rules that already affect people’s whole lives, and think where they come from (physical, spiritual, cultural, etc). Which rules, as followers of Jesus should we follow, and which are not for us to worry about?

Cold: Create a ‘rule of life’, tied into the Spiritual Rhythms

Mark Twain is famously noted to have said:

Dance like nobody’s watching;
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Sing like nobody’s listening;
Live like it’s heaven on earth.

Exemplars of more spiritual starting points can be found on the following pages:

After Dinner Chocs:

  1. Live by a new rule this week, e.g. try Bible readings for a week on Word in Time
  2. Identify a rule you live by that comes between you and God, and break that rule.
  3. Encourage someone who has already exceeded your expectations via an email, Skype, a letter (mode of communication not important)

The Book

The related material in Lent for Everyone: Mark can be found on Week 3: Monday, pp. 66-70.

Today
Grant us, gracious Lord, the wisdom to discern which of our customs and habits are genuine expressions of our true faith and which are mere human inventions.

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