Sunday 20 October 2013

Bible Book:
Luke

Luke 18:1-8 Sunday 20 October 2013


Background

The word "Bambelela" could be used to sum up this parable. It isa South African word which means 'never give up' and has becomewell-known as a World Church song and as an energising theme withinMethodist Women inBritain. It is certainly the spirit of the widow in this storywho wears down the judge by her persistence. Luke's Gospel is atpains to point out that the judge is not behaving as a judge should- although appointed to bring justice, he despises hisresponsibility and fears neither God nor other people (verses 2,4).So it seems strange that it is the judge who represents God in thestory. Here, as elsewhere (eg Luke 11:13),Luke's Gospel works on a principle of 'how much more'. If humanbeings, with all their faults, can occasionally do the right things(even if for the wrong reasons), how much more can God be trustedto be faithful and just.

Men and women alike may fear that this story gives sanction tonagging - a practice viewed as neither productive nor pleasant bymany verses in the book of Proverbs (where we shall spend the restof this week). As always, it is a question of balance. A modernparallel could be the story of Kathleen Cordeux who wrote sofrequently to head of the BBC, Lord Reith, in 1926 and 1927 aboutthe need for daily Christian worship on the radio, that in January1928 he agreed to an experimental series. Eighty-five years laterthe DailyService is still going strong on BBC Radio 4 LW.

There is a challenge here to a committed prayer life; there is achallenge to a committed fight for justice; there is a challenge tobe found faithful. There is a reassurance of God's readiness tohear and to help. But perhaps above all what we are to take awayfrom this parable is that even the quietest voices can effectchange. A widow in first-century Israel was close to the bottom ofthe social structure, butevena widow can bring about justice,eveninthese adverse conditions. So no-one should contemplate givingup.


To Ponder

  • Think about some of the social justice campaigns which have runfor many years and finally brought about change. Pause to givethanks for those who have not given up on slavery, universalsuffrage, apartheid, Fair Trade, the Millennium Development Goals,caste discrimination ...
  • What may be the situations in your life or church where youneed to adopt this spirit of persistence?
  • Is there another side to this coin? In what circumstances mayit be appropriate to 'give up'?¬†
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