Key Text: Mark 10:17-27
Remember a time that led you to re-evaluate which things were most important in your life. Share some of your thoughts with the group. Describe briefly what you learned from these experiences.
USPG partner the Revd Fr Andrew Devadason was an Anglican priest in Dickoya, Sri Lanka, when tragedy struck in 2013. He writes:
Monday 13 May 2013 was a dark day for the people of Dickoya, a small town in central Sri Lanka. It took less than 15 minutes for a flash flood to prove its power. The flooding was a reminder that when nature is angry she is the queen of destruction. We lost everything.
That evening, I went to meet the people. I walked down the road without even a pair of slippers on my feet. My status as an Anglican clergy person and my bank account were useless in the face of the destruction around me. Hundreds of homes were flooded. The church itself was flooded. Our sense of value was turned upside down. It was ground zero – everything felt useless and worthless.
I thought about chess. When the game is over, the kings, queens and bishops are put back in the same box as the pawns. This is how it felt after the flood. The disaster revealed that we all share a basic humanity. The gospel is just such a leveller – it challenges every one of us to face unflinchingly our ordinary human nature. But the gospel does not leave us there.
Today, the people of Dickoya are on the road to recovery. We are starting to feel again a sense of hope. We are daring to believe again the promises of a full life that our Lord offers (Jn 10:10).
Significantly, what helped to set us free from the chains of hopelessness was the support and prayers of our partners around the world, including USPG, which sent emergency help in the form of a grant. What touched us most was the knowledge that this sharing was inspired by the gospel of God moving in people’s hearts. For the community of Dickoya, those who reached out to us were the embodiment of Christ within a hopeless situation.
For me, life is a constant battle between two realms: the realm of God and the realm of the world. We are constantly called upon to make choices, and the decisions we make determine our inheritance at the end of the day.
The rich man in the following passage was perhaps used to always getting – or buying – what he wanted: possessions, attention, status. But on this occasion, he does not get what he wants. Perhaps he felt helpless and hopeless because he could do nothing to change things to make them the way he wanted. It is an encounter between the realm of the world and the realm of God.
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’”
He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were perplexed at these words.
But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Having had a look at our lifestyles, try to imagine how we might live differently – personally, as a church and as a society. Jot down a few notes. Make this your goal. Give yourself a timeframe. What could you do to move towards this?
God who challenges us with your uncomfortable truths
penetrate the dark corners of our lives.
Open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts
and give us courage to act on what we find.