Monday 7 November
Read Matthew 8:1-4
This seems an abrupt jump as we have left all the Sermon on the Mount (chaps 5-7) behind as they are being dealt with in Sunday Evening Services throughout the winter – see the readings for Thursday and Friday each week.
But, with the scene set – we know who we are and we know how God helps us – he sets out the task of Discipleship – the people who are our and His concern.
In this first part of Chapter 8, we meet the spurned insider. The leper is a Jew (he is sent for authentication of the cure to the priest) – he is one of us, but he is cast out, ignored, not wanted, treated as less through no fault of his own.
There are still lepers among those who should be insiders – the physically handicapped are often talked down to as if their brains as well as their bodies were somehow deficient – those whose gender identity is unsure or homo- rather than heterosexual – those who suffer from mental illness or those who find themselves through life’s circumstances living on the streets – even those widowed or divorced.
We have been guilty in this land (as in many others) of treating those of other denominations as rivals at best and lepers at worst.
Many of all the above will tell of how their fellow Christians have made them feel like lepers – as if they did not really belong because they do not fit the idealised image of the ‘Christian’ or the ‘Christian family’.
So, Jesus begins with inclusion, affection (he touched him) and understanding – giving dignity and healing to the insider outside.
So must we! Any ideas?
Tuesday 8 November
Read Matthew 8:5-13
Here he does the same for the outsider. The centurion is of necessity not Jewish – Roman or Syrian perhaps. (Irish or Republican? Polish or Ukrainian? Roma or Asian?) Jesus sees the faith that is so strong – stronger than those inside have – and responds. Often the outsider has more to show us of the faith and of trust than we who are travel-weary-too familiar with the gospel – insiders.
Here again we need to open our hearts as well as our churches. Do we stop to speak on the street? For if we greet only those who greet us, what more do we do than the heathen?
Ask God to show you the outsider he has in mind for you to bring in.
Wednesday 9 November
Read Matthew 8:14-17
Well, at last we have a straightforward one – Peter’s mother-in-law! If anyone is on the inside track she surely is. But in the society of her day, a woman, a widow and sick she is very likely to be marginalised. Cast your eye around – the recently retired colleague that no-one has contacted since the day they left – for them it is as if they have never been! The person now shut in who used to be in the heart of the congregation and now feels marginalised – longs to hear from friends the news of all that goes on.
Jesus has chosen and demonstrated his target groups – they are also ours. By the way he also healed them – and so can he through us!
Thursday 10 November
Read Matthew 5:9
Sadly, we too easily limit peace-making to armies and politicians – peace-making is also made by those who do not fight – the list is endless but must include Bonhoeffer, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and our own Ray Davey.
It must and should also include ourselves – but that is for tomorrow – today give thanks for the peacemakers of past and present whom we rightly honour today.
 There is an excellent article in Wikipedia and on the Corrymeela website – simply google Ray Davey!
Friday 11 November
The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
If you can, pause for two minutes to remember those whose deaths brought life and peace to many more. Then pray for all peacemakers, all peacekeeping and peace-making forces across the world. And give thanks for those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of peace.
Read Romans 5:1-11 and 12:14-21
We have peace with God – therefore we are to be peacemakers. An alternative lifestyle is envisaged in these verses from Romans 12. These words of Paul are simply an application of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the mount – but perhaps his reiteration of these principles as a way of life will save us from dismissing Christ or Paul as idealists who did not really mean us to take these things literally – they did, and they do. So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Don’t blame the others – take responsibility yourself.
Saturday 12 November
A day for rest and reflection or catching up on reading missed earlier in the week.
You may want to reflect on these questions along with the weekly reading:
- Who are the insiders, fellow Christians, whom we treat as lepers?
- How do we cope with the plethora of outsiders in our society?
- Where is the line between welcome, acceptance and evangelism
- Which of your acquaintances have disappeared from your view? How do you draw them back?
- How can I be a peacemaker where I am?
Talk with your children about making peace. How do you make peace with a friend or someone who isn’t you friend? What is peace making and why is it important? You might want to share a story from your life where you made peace with a friend?
Ask them if there are ways they could be peacemakers at school or among their friends.
You might like to look up the life of one of the great peace people on the internet and share the story.
Sunday 13 November
11.00am Remembrance Sunday / BB Enrolment Service – Joshua Sanderson (Lowe Ministery Intern)
The need to reach into and beyond and heal
7.00pm Evening service- Derek McKelvey
Peacemakers – and peacekeepers