Tisa Lacey — Parish Administrator, St Andrew’s, Springfield
Life’s challenges come to us all. As a wife, mother and friend, I’ve witnessed and experienced many difficult situations that can alter lives either positively or negatively. Each one has an impact on us — the question is, “How have we weathered the storm?” One of my favourite parables is Matthew 7. 24-27, about the wise and foolish builders, especially verses 24 and 26:
“‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’”
“‘But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.’”
Being a Christian does not make one immune to life’s challenges. Life is tough and being in Christ is not a free ticket to a trouble-free life. However, Jesus makes it clear in this parable that despite the storms that we all face, building a strong foundation on Him, knowing his word and applying it to every area of our lives will help us to weather the storms and stand strong.
Our struggles may not always lead to the outcome we were hoping for, but the Lord sees the bigger picture, provides stability and makes us more robust in the face of difficult situations. Putting our faith and trust in ourselves or other people is misplaced and is like building on sand. As Christians we need to be discerning and mindful so as to continuously build our lives on the firm foundation of Christ.
The Rev’d Cameron Freese — Rector, The Parish of East Redlands
My favourite passage from Matthew’s Gospel is Matthew 2.1-12, which describes the Magi and the star they followed to Bethlehem. I love this passage because it’s unclear, leading us to consider other possibilities and understandings within the ancient world to explore its meaning.
It is such a joy to be able to bring works from people like British Methodist preacher and Biblical scholar Margaret Barker, American theologian and activist Walter Wink and NASA astrophysicist Michael Molnar to bear on this passage and see depths of possibility beyond the plain reading. Consequently, I look forward to this passage each year because it enables me to ponder the universality of God’s coming into the world in the person of Jesus. But more than that, there is a journey that needs to be taken to find him and it isn’t always clear what that will look like.
And the reality is that no matter how we apply this passage, what we continue to discover is that this isn’t a story about a clear destination with expected outcomes, because let’s face it, it is highly unlikely that the Magi set off with a clear plan of where they were heading and what exactly they would find. In short this isn’t just about knowledge, it’s also about revelation — whether we are tuned into it and whether we are prepared to respond.
The lesson of the Magi is about how faithfully they followed God’s lead, how diligently they sought to complete their journey and how prepared they were to bring gifts and worship a tiny baby. Keeping that in mind, we need to recognise that we are the Magi of today — not by looking to Courier Mail horoscopes, but by searching for the newborn King, still following the light along an uncertain journey, and still being surprised by what God reveals along the way and how God reveals it.
The Rev’d Kate Ross — Locum Tenens, The Parish of Bundaberg
Twelve years. A woman bleeding heavily for more than 4,000 days, give or take. If it were due to her periods then she was considered “unclean” and couldn’t be touched. Perhaps her uncontrolled bleeding was not all day every day, but still over 4,000 days she had to deal with the physical and emotional impacts of such bleeding. She would have missed human contact. But Jesus overlooks all that when he allows her to touch his clothing.
The story of the haemorrhaging woman in Matthew 9.20-22 speaks to the hopeless and helpless in me. Twelve years of chronic illness would wear anyone down. I imagine that she’d been to the medical people in her town and had no luck. Perhaps she felt that her prayers went unanswered. Most of us have had that experience of a situation that just grinds us into the ground, to the point that we feel hopeless and helpless.
So in a place of extreme vulnerability she comes to Jesus. She’s heard about Jesus, of course, and she believes in his power to heal. She knows that touching Jesus’ cloak is enough. So unassuming! So desperate — to risk breaching a rule of the day by touching the ritual fringes of a rabbi’s cloak. But her faith is strong and Jesus declares her well.
My 4,000 days, give or take, of pain and hurt were not due to uncontrolled bleeding. But they were enough for me to seek healing. After my 4,000 days, the power of Jesus made me well, too. Faith sometimes comes down to believing that Jesus’ healing is possible; that Jesus, one way or another, draws us into his life — holy and complete.
The Rev’d Gary Tognola — Assistant Priest, The Parish of Mt Gravatt
“‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field (Matthew 13.44).’”
This is a short, but powerful mini parable, unique to Matthew’s Gospel. When I reflect on this deeply and allow it to dwell in my heart, it opens an opportunity for a renewed relationship between myself and the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ kingdom is one of abundant love, acceptance and grace that surrounds and embraces us. His hidden treasures are there waiting in that field to be discovered. Jesus asks us to dig deep and trust that we will discover something beyond worldly wealth.
This is one of my favourite verses because it touches on what can be revealed when we are prepared to be vulnerable. I imagine it to be like Jesus giving me permission to unlock the treasure chest of my heart, allowing my authentic self to be shown.
During Jesus’ life and ministry, he always sought ways to engage in relationships. He was able to achieve this through making connections with people by his words and actions, unlocking what was unknown so it could be known. For example, in his presence, he revealed to those in despair or suffering that he offered the hidden treasure of hope. In my daily ministry, I need to sit, engage and listen to people to help bring Jesus’ love, faith and hope to them.
Editor’s note 24/07/2023: Updated with additional image.Jump to next article