PASTOR MATTHEW’S REFLECTIONS
The text for today, particularly the gospel text, is just plain hard!
There is no way around the hard sayings of Jesus on divorce in Mark and what's more, if this text doesn't harshly indict us personally, it points the finger at people we know and love and care for doesn't it, people we know to be good and loving and faithful, people we know who needed to exit a relationship that was broken, lifeless and, in some cases, even abusive.
So, what are we to make of this text?
The first place I go is to say that there is no way of mitigating the fact that broken relationship is grievous to God. God is wounded when people break faith with each other, with the creation around them and ultimately, when people break relationship with Godself. The breach of our relationship with God is, in fact, the origin of sin.
We, as Christians and surely as preachers, shouldn't try to rationalise or mitigate this; we should all just take it head on that when we break faith with others and God, God is wounded.
For Jesus, the consequences of this kind of breaking of relationship in the time he is preaching, is particularly hard for women to bear. For women in antiquity, divorce is a sentencing to abjection, poverty and death. I think a legitimate way to interpret this injunction against divorce is to read it as Jesus commanding us to love one another even when we can no longer love one another...do you know what I mean?
I believe that God calls people in and then out of relationships, relationships with colleagues, relationships with friends and even, sometimes, relationships with spouses, I have simply seen too much in my 50 years of life not to believe this is the case I have also seen too much in my 50 years not to know that in the breaching of the spousal relationship there is a whole community of people who are hurt, a community which includes God.
In the end, everything in our lives is about relationship, when we can exist in harmony and in love with our neighbour, the creation and ourselves, then we will naturally be in harmony with our God. When we, in hard heartedness or pride or anger or selfishness, break that harmony or when that harmony is broken for the same reasons by someone else against us, it lessens life on the whole. The key to faithfully hearing the text today I think is not in using as a stick to point at others but as a reminder that life is often hard and is made impossible without relationships that require constant care, humility, sacrifice and love, all the attributes that Jesus examples for us, our work, in being faithful disciples is to seek to emulate that example.
God bless and keep you in your relationships.
God grant you the strength and humility and willingness to do everything you can to safeguard your relationships.
And, when breach cannot be avoided,
God forgive, renew and restore you.