Sunday Reflection by Karen Branch-Brioso

Is the Lord among us, or not?

The thirsty Israelites said it in the desert, before God commanded Moses to strike the rock that then gushed with the water they demanded.

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, admitted a couple of weeks ago to a BBC interviewer that: “There are moments, sure, where you think, ‘Is there a God? Where is God?’”

Life is often hard. Unfair, even.

We are broken by the news of family and friends, struck too young by illness and death, or robbed in their old age of their memories. We are broken by financial distress. By our fear of what’s next.

And yet, as Father Tim noted in today’s sermon, when we hold on to all of this brokenness in our lives, we have granted it authority over our lives. Instead of giving it that power over us, he told us, we can let it guide us and “accept the gift of our brokenness, and open it to God.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus wouldn’t share with the Pharisees about the authority in his life. They had challenged Jesus’ teaching in the temple by asking, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” He wouldn’t tell them.

Unlike the chief priests and elders back then, we know the answer. We know who gave Jesus the authority. So did the tax collectors and prostitutes – those who had dealt and been dealt their own share of brokenness at the time. They knew the answer, because they believed.

But how do we get past our own modern-day brokenness and address our own feelings of doubt about the presence of God?

In that same interview with the BBC where he expressed his own feelings of doubts, the Archbishop of Canterbury also had more to say about them: “It is not about feelings. It is about the fact that God is faithful, and the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.”

Questions:

  • What people, circumstances or things – besides God – have you granted power over your life?
  • Why do you think Jesus wouldn’t answer the chief priests’ and elders’ questions when they asked him, “by what authority are you doing these things?”?
  • How would you “accept the gift of our brokenness, and open it to God”?
    Review the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s recent comments about his own doubts in an article in The Guardian and listen to the full interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exmHYXNEt9A. (The comments that are mentioned here can be found between the 12-minute and 15-minute marks of the video.)
  • What do you think about his comments?
  • What do they say to you for your own life?