I pray that this finds you well.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring you news of three things that are happening within our church community.
Firstly, we returned to in-person worship on Sunday 23rd May and services will be held weekly as normal. It is still essential that you do not come to Church if you have any symptoms which can be attributed to Covid-19. If you have recently come into contact with someone who is suspected of infection it is essential that you have a negative test before attending worship.
While the Government has lifted the national Covid restrictions, the Elders at St Columba continue to have a responsibility for the safety of those who come to our premises. We have agreed the following precautions
While the Government has given people personal responsibility, we believe as Christians we are called to love one another, and these precautions represent one way in which we can practice that love. The Elders will review these precautions at their meeting on the 7th September, unless dictated by circumstances.
Secondly, with the return to in-person worship the Sunday morning Zoom service finished on Sunday 16th May. Instead we will be launching an evening zoom service on the first and third Sunday of the month, starting at 6:45pm. The content of this service will be different to the morning service or worship booklet. We will trial these services over the summer and review them in September.
Lastly, I am organising monthly bible studies which will look at a different topic each month. This means the each study is stand alone and people are free to pop in and out over the months as they wish. The first study will be on Wednesday 26th May at 10:30am or Thursday 27th May at 2pm and we will be looking at Prayer and whether our prayers are sometimes unanswered. Studies will be held on zoom at least until August when we will review the possibililty of meeting in person.
We will also continue with our Coffee, Chat and Craft morning which meets on the second Tuesday of the month on Zoom starting at 10:30am.
I am hoping to start visiting members of the congregation as restrictions continue to ease and I will be in touch in due course. As always my contact details are
If you require any zoom information simply contact us and we will reply as soon as possible with the relevant information.
Take care, stay safe and God bless.
Reading :Mark 10:17 – 31
17 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?’ 18 Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 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.”’ 20 He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ 21 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.’ 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23 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!’ 24 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! 25 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.’ 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’
28 Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ 29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
In our reading today, a man approaches Jesus, not to test him but to seek his opinion. Jesus is preparing to set off on a journey when a man approaches him, kneels before him and addresses him as “Good Teacher”. At this point in the story Mark gives us very little information but already we know that this man recognises something in Jesus, he approaches him with a degree of humility and speaks to him respectively. The man has a one question for Jesus to answer for him – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”.
The custom of the day would be for Jesus to address this stranger with equally exalted language but that is not Jesus’ way. Instead Jesus addresses him with no title and he deflects the flattery by making it clear that only God is good. As Jesus begins to answer the question he has been asked, he directs the man to the Ten Commandments, highlighting the commandments that concern how people relate to one another.
The man’s replies “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth”. Was the man disappointed that he has not learnt anything new from Jesus or is he overjoyed that Jesus has confirmed that he is on the right road to eternal life. However, Jesus is not finished answering the man’s question. Mark tells us that Jesus looked at the man and loved him before he continued. This may be a hint to us that is to follow may be difficult for the man to hear.
Jesus tells the man that he lacks one thing however Jesus does not elaborate and actually name that one thing clearly. Instead he gives the man four imperative – Go, sell, give and follow. Firstly, the man is to go, he is to return home so he can put his affairs in order. He then has to sell everything that he owns, not just the things he doesn’t like or a portion of what he has but everything. Once everything is sold the man is not to keep the money he makes, but he is to give the proceeds of the sale to the poor, because he himself will have treasure in heaven. Finally, the man is to come back and follow Jesus.
The man is in shock by the time Jesus finishes telling him what he needs to do. The man does not answer Jesus but turns and leaves grieving because now Mark tells us that the man owned many possessions. While this demand from Jesus seems extreme to our ears today, those who first heard this gospel would not think so. For many in the ancient world Jesus words would have been considered radical but they would have also been considered sound advice for those who were devout. It was unusual for people to take such a radical step but not unheard of. As the man leaves, Jesus doesn’t try to renegotiate the terms, he doesn’t try and soften the blow but lets the man walk away, knowing that this man was not ready to take the necessary steps that God requires.
Jesus then turns to his disciples and tells them that those who have wealth will have a hard time entering the kingdom of God. Jesus then says, “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”. Many have tried to find other explanations for what was meant by the eye of a needle, but maybe Jesus was trying to make a point. The eye of a needle was something small and the camel would have been the largest animal in Palestine and using such extremes emphasised the difficulty those attached to wealth face.
Rather than making things clearer for the disciples, Jesus seems to have confused them more and they ask him, “Then who can be saved?”. There were two schools of thought at this time. Some equated prosperity with divine blessing but others warned against wealth. The disciples appear to favour the first school of thought and think if those who have been blessed with wealth will have difficulty entering into the kingdom of God then what hope is there for those who are less fortunate. However, it is clear that Jesus favours the latter view and has nothing good to say about money. For Jesus, possessions are obstacles that stop someone giving themselves completely to God.
In reply to the disciples’ question Jesus affirms that salvation comes from a divine possibility, not a human one. The man had made the assumption that eternal life relied on something he could do and here Jesus corrects that assumption. Discipleship requires something more than reverence for Jesus as a good teacher and earnest attempts to obey God’s commandments. Jesus’ demand of the man exposed his reluctance to give himself and all that he had over to God. Entrance to the kingdom of God requires one to submit to God’s rule so God can reign not just in some parts of our lives but in all parts, in everything we do.
Peter points out that the disciples have done just that, they gave up everything to follow Jesus. Jesus promises that their sacrifice will not be for nothing. Those who give up earthly attachments will receive rewards in heaven. Those who have given up their families will become part of a larger family through Jesus. However, Jesus reminds them that while they have given up much and will receive much in the next life, there will be hardships or persecutions along the way.
I have always assumed that the man went away grieving because he didn’t want to give away all his money but one commentator pointed out that maybe he went away grieving because he had decided to give everything up and follow Jesus and that decision is not pain free. Often being part of the kingdom of God means we have to make difficult decisions and give up things that have previously been important to us. Following Jesus is not a once in a lifetime decision and then we go on business as usual. The road of discipleship is one of transformation, for some dramatic and sudden but for many it is a slow transformation, one change at a time. It is easy to become complacent in our faith, we just plod along and often we don’t realise that in doing so we have stopped relying on God in the way we use to, we have stopped listening for God to speak and guide us, we have stopped putting things of the kingdom before the things of the world. Sometimes we also have to make that painful decision to give up something in our lives that we have come to rely on more than God. This passage challenges us to look at our lives and ask ourselves are we trusting God fully and if not, what do we have to give up.
This passage also reminds us that making the changes that God requires in our lives are not things we can do on our own. If we rely on our own strength, then we will fail because it is not possible for us as individuals to become people of the kingdom all by ourselves. However, with God’s help, the most difficult of changes are made possible and that should give us encouragement.
While this passage challenges us to think about our relationship with God and ask ourselves “what do we need to give up to trust God more fully?”. There are also words of encouragement that remind us that we can make the changes necessary if we rely on God for help.
• Take some time and think about what Jesus might be asking you to give up so you can trust God more fully and then ask God for help.
• Bring the things from your ponderings before God
• Pray for those who you know who are struggling with their faith
• Pray for new Christians as they begin their faith journey
Red, yellow, tan, copper, light green, beige, Different trees, different colours, Some branches bare, some still laden with leaves, Lord, the changes in the trees remind me of the changes in me, I am not the same now as I was this time last year, I am not the same in the morning as I am in the evening, At times I want nothing more than to come into your presence and worship you, At other times I go on my way without a thought for you.
Lord, as the trees become bare and the leaves flutter to the ground I know that this is temporary and new life will follow after a period of rest, Lord, this reminds me that there are parts of my life that need to die so you can become a greater part of me.
Lord, the evergreen trees remind me of your faithfulness Faithfulness through the different seasons of my life Lord, I thank you that you are evergreen.
Lord I thank you for Autumn and the lessons that it teaches. Lord I thank you for the colour change and the promise of new life that it brings But I thank you most of all for the evergreen……