Wednesday, 22 October 2008

26th October 2008

The readings (if we're not celebrating Bible Sunday):
Deuteronomy 34: 1-12 The death of Moses
1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8 How the gospel was brought to Thessalonica by Paul
Matthew 22: 34-46 Yet more opposition to Jesus - with the question 'which is the most important commandment?' - Jesus answers that the greatest commandment is 'Love God & your neighbour as yourself'.

Realising I knew nothing about Thessalonians I did a bit of reading around. I was surprised to learn that this is thought to be the earliest of Paul's letters (about 50 AD/CE): to a very new group of Christians from the artisan class of Thessalonica. They are facing persecution because their rich employers feared that by turning away from worship of the pagan gods these new Christians would jeopardise the prosperity of the city.

The question for the church in Thessalonica was 'who do we say we are?' - Paul is anxious to build up a sense of belonging, of family-like relationships, of shared values.

Then from the very new to the very old - Jesus gives an answer to the Pharisees which makes it clear that he is not teaching something new, but something very old and very basic - love God & your neighbour.

I think I can see some links here, from the law & prophets, through Jesus to the new church - & on to us.
But what about Moses??? Still thinking about that - although I note that the reading also contains a mention of Joshua.. maybe the people of God had to face the question 'who are we? - if not followers of Moses, then what?'.
And to add to the complexity we are receiving a church record on Sunday - a wonderful and careful record of all that is in the church..all that we have inherited.. but the past isn't all that we are.
The question 'who do we say we are?' may be the key...
More posting when I've done more thinking!

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