5th Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Genesis 22:1-14 
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42
Catholic lectionary:
2 Kings. 4:8-11, 14-16a
89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11


Old Testament
The story of the near sacrifice of Isaac. What does this violent story of attempted filicide have to tell us? For me on first reading this story I feel horror. This is because I am reading it in the present with the perspective of the past. How I need to read it is with the perspective of the past, present and future. 

It is in this story of Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac that God gives us the ability to see a little bit farther as God sees. God requires trust from us; sometimes we will be asked to go to places and do things that we are not sure of. It is in the journey that God’s will is revealed because we have feared and trusted God. Because of this trust, just like with Abraham and Isaac, when the will of God is revealed to us it will be as if we have always known it. 

Abraham calls this place ‘the Lord will provide’. We have to Journey to this mountain in our hearts and minds wherever we find ourselves: office, workplace, park or home. It is an eternal promise – the Lord will provide.

Thirteen is supposedly an unlucky number. I have lost track of the number of times I have prayed with this psalm. Suffering as I do from Depression, Anxiety and PTSD, there are times when this world feels very dark and full of pain. This Psalm is an anchor to hold onto and can return me to the knowledge of God’s unfailing love and grace and makes me able to praise God in the darkest of times. When I pray with this Psalm I am full of pity and pain, but this psalm reminds me that I have known God’s presence in my life and that all is not sleep or death. 

In the Old Testament times the concept of afterlife was not what we have now as Christians. The people of the Old Testament felt that when sleep happened that was as if we had died. Our Christian faith tells us when we fall asleep for the final time we are met by Christ and will share in eternal life and resurrection. 

So pray this psalm when you are feeling at your lowest ebb. It will bring you hope and make you able to offer any situation to God in praise. It will remind you that God has, and will again, bring light into your life.

Sin. It always comes down to Sin. Many people believe that Paul is obsessed with sin, and so what if he is? If anyone should know the consequence of sin it is Paul. But what is Paul saying? In this passage Paul is reminding us that as Christians sin has died. It died with Christ in the crucifixion, which was a sufficient sacrifice. We still have the ability to sin, but the sins of our past are already reconciled through our Baptism whenever that may take place.

It doesn’t mean however that the consequence of those sins are erased. We have to be very careful, an abuser may have abused many in the past and the consequences of that sinning lives on in the abused lives and the sin must never be repeated again. Paul murdered many followers of Christ in his time as Saul, the consequences of those actions continued to haunt him. But grace from God was his saving and that enabled him to preach Christ crucified, dead, risen and ascended. God gave him that grace and gives it to us as well. The structural sins in our society still have consequences so we must stop those sins.

In this Passage Jesus reveals to the people how simple the laws of God are, and how burdensome the human made interpretations are. Jesus is calling us to a simpler less burdensome interpretation of the law so that we can refocus our attention fully on God. We do this by remembering that we are created to worship God and to bring the knowledge of the love of God into the world. 



We are now in a post pandemic world; covid 19 practically shut down the entire world. In England those of us who were deemed vulnerable were told to shield, and I stayed locked away for twelve weeks during the first lockdown. But post pandemic we are being made more and more aware of the bad behaviour of our politicians and leaders. Whilst the majority of us adhered to the rules a minority broke them and their excuses were that the laws and rules that they made were ambiguous and they were open to interpretation.

When I read the scriptures I am reminded that it is a conversation with God, a conversation that is to be interpreted from its context and our context. 

In Jesus time the Religious Laws of the society were being rigidly enforced by the religious leaders. The laws were starting to create a gap between law and religion and therefore worship of God and our relationship with God. In our reading from Matthew this week, Jesus simplifies the understanding of the law. 

There is violence in the Abraham story – a Father prepared to brutally murder his own son. Isaac, after not being sacrificed, having known what his father had intended to do could quite easily have felt justified in taking that knife and killing Abraham, but he doesn’t. As we have seen with these protests, the best response to the atrocities that has caused them is peaceful; but it would be understandable if they were not.

Our Psalm offers us time and space to get perspective on life. It finds us at our lowest and ends with taking us to praise of the almighty God. Finding God’s light and peace. 

In the epistle from Romans, Paul is reminding us that the consequence of sin lives on far after the sin was committed but there is forgiveness and reconciliation from sin. Sin however; remains in society and its unjust structures and Paul reminds us that we must be prepared to stand up against injustice and structural sin. The saying at the moment is that “silence is violence” and it’s true. We must confront sin and wrongdoing head on, even -and especially- if we have ourselves been guilty of or contributed to that wrongdoing.

In our gospel reading Jesus is reminding us that human structures can be used to oppress the people, true freedom comes from listening to the word of God. That is what truly liberates us. In a Post Pandemic world we must remember not to blindly follow the man made rules and instead listen to the voice of God. 

Isaac did not take the knife against his father in revenge. Abraham was following what he believed God to be saying to him literally to the letter, this was a reminder to Abraham and to Issac and us to have that conversation with God. When we feel like all hope is lost in the darkest of times, we can always turn to God and have that conversation rather than reacting immediately to a situation, take the conversation back to God in prayer. 

Unjust laws of all kinds must be confronted but it is dangerous to blindly follow. Because as Paul observes, that leads us into sin and the consequences of sin in our lives. 

Truth is often to be found in plain sight – trust in God. Not blindly following those who are filled with human knowledge, but rather to seek the knowledge of God. This offers learning and understanding for the guilty, peace and reconciliation for the oppressed and ultimately grace, mercy, hope, peace and love. 

As churches we must find a way to become more inclusive not exclusive and question leadership rather than blindly follow where God does not want us to go.

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Adam North

Adam North is a Lay Reader at St Peters Hall Green in the Diocese of Birmingham, Church of England and a USPG Volunteer.

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