Reverend Rob Lamerton
18 July 2004, Pentecost 7
the first reading from Hosea depicts the disastrous relationship between Hosea and his wife Gomer and the names of her offspring:
looks back to Jehu's destruction of Ahab and forward to restoration —
1. Jezreel—meaning God sows Judgement and Restoration
2. Lo-ruhamah—not pitied
3. Lo-ammi—not my people
There is an indication with Jezreel that the relationship was once OK and will be again… but that Gomer's lack of faithfulness has led to
not my people.
The relationship is symbolic of God's relationship with the people of Israel—a relationship which was once strong has now fallen apart because God's people (4 kings) have lost control and come under the threat of Assyrian domination eventually to be overthrown by Assyrian forces.
Instead of being faithful to the Creator God, Israel has entered into relationship with the Canaanite religious practice which included immoral fertility rites.
So as we read this story the historical context helps us understand the story's language:
1. It is about God and God's people and traditionally God = husband and Israel = wife so it is the wife who gets the bad press.
I wonder with more modern images of the feminine aspects of God and understanding about males if the story would be told the same way today…
It also reminds us that marriage—indeed all relationships—are sacramental—meant to express the nature of God. Sadly in reality we often fail—but the ideal is there!
We are called into faithful relationship with God.
God sows judgement and restoration
Are God's people
The plant growth image is also used by Paul in describing how we are to have our roots firmly embedded in Christ.
and whereas the ancient peoples of God
worshipped fake gods
allowed national life to fall apart
and allowed a greater power to dictate terms.
The Christian believer cannot.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit."
Don't let the old ways hold you captive!
Well that seems to me to be the hard part!
It is so easy to hold onto old habits… ways… faults… prejudices… traditions…
But we are to grow into a body of which Christ is the head—the thinking … [directing]
Now that is easy to say—difficult to do.
And it is not a quick and easy process.
That is where we come to the gospel—PRAYER
And Jesus tells a story to describe the need for persistent prayer which is of course at the heart of a relationship of faithfulness.
Any relationship requires communication; talking and listening—so too with God.
And the best way to learn to Pray is
[talking to a woman this week who in her busy life in her office/storeroom spends time at special hours of the day…]
Have a time and place
You might begin with the Lord's Prayer
thinking about each line
then simply list the issues, people, events of concern and what you are looking for
leave some space.
Pray the Lord's Prayer again.
OR use a prayer book APBA or others…
The second part of the Gospel story is also about persistence
keep knocking on God's door because God knows our need.
If we know what is good for our children
HOW MUCH MORE does God know our need
and gives, not practical things, but the Holy Spirit.
God gives first of all the
and in fact if we start looking around we discover that in God's providence our prayers are indeed answered as we are asking.