An address delivered in Warragul Uniting Church, by the Rev Rosalind Terry

on Sunday, 26 October 2003



Bible reading: Job 42:  1-17.




Job had a personal encounter with God, and that made all the difference.  We should be satisfied with nothing less!


Job was asked to forgive and pray for his friends, the ones who had hurt him by their ignorant chatter and too easy answers. 


Have we been guilty of such ignorant chatter and too easy answers, for ourselves or others?


Are there people we are still carrying malice towards because of past hurts?


“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”, you taught us Lord to pray.


Can present blessings heal past wounds? 


Job did indeed change because of all of this.  His three daughters are now the ones who are named, and they receive an inheritance along with their brothers!  Is grief and sorrow the great leveller.  Could this possibly be true on an international scale?  Could the insecurity we now feel in the wake of September 11 and October 12 possibly bring us closer to the insecurity felt by the vast magority of the world’s people because of their poverty?


Today is “Peace Remembrance Sunday”, when the Justice and International Mission Unit of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania invites us to reflect on peace and non-violent peace-making in our services.  This Sunday falls within the United Nations Disarmament Week.  How much our world needs such a message today.


I believe peace can flow when we have the courage to face our pain and brokenness, in the presence of God, as Job was forced to do.  From that will flow the forgiveness that can alone heal the destructive and broken nations.


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Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem.  Do you remember the early part of Mark 10, in which Jesus teaches his disciples the way to enter the kingdom of God was in the total dependency on God’s grace that comes naturally to a child, the lowest of the low in the society of Jesus’ day.  When a rich man asked how to inherit eternal life, he was told by Jesus to sell everything and give his wealth to the poor and come and follow Jesus.


Still the disciples didn’t get it, and James and John begged for the places of political honour and power in the future kingdom.  And the other disciples were no better.  What pain that must have caused our Lord, as he was on the way to his cross.  His three years of teaching had achieved nothing, it seemed.  He must have felt he was still alone on the servant road.


Then comes this wonderful story:  Mark 10:  46 – 52


To follow Jesus we have to come with empty hands, and hearts open to receive grace.  Nothing we can do will buy God’s love.  Anything we own may act as a barrier to the acceptance of this gift.


The children could come and receive blessing, because they knew they had nothing to offer.


The rich man turned away sad, because he could not let go of his many possessions.


The disciples were still bickering about who was the greatest!


Yet this blind beggar, this despised blind man, whose handicap caused people of his day to wonder who had sinned, himself or his parents, THIS man could throw away the only thing of value he possessed, his warm outer coat, and follow in the way!


And his faith saved and healed him!


Again I find this passage forcing me to ask myself, does God encounter me in my suffering, as God encountered Job and Bartimaeus?  Can I empty my hands and my heart to receive the grace to be healed and to follow?  Have you received this grace?


Parting from friends is painful.  “Parting is to die a little”, as a Vietnamese proverb tells us.


But to die is to enter more fully into God’s presence.


Can I use the coming lonely months as a chance to rest more fully in God’s love?


For you these months will be busy and full of questions.  You will be wrestling with decisions about a possible move to the Sutton Street property, the future structure of ministry in the region from Garfield to Thorpdale, and who to call to ministry here in Warragul.  Will these months of hard work and careful prayer and listening for God'’ guidance be for you a blessing, a time when God draws especially close to you as you leave the past behind and move into the new future? 


Job felt the pain of loss, and the pain of being misunderstood by friends, but came through the experience more mature and loving and life giving.


Bartimaeus suffered the life of an outcast on the edge of society all his life, until that wonderful day when his determination stopped Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, and Jesus made all the difference.


Have we the determination to claim such healing for ourselves as individuals,

            for our congregation, 

            for the Uniting Church in Australia,

            and ultimately for our world?