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Communion Table Foosball PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 22 August 2010 13:51

Communion Table Foosball

In this morning's service we created our own foosball teams on the Communion Table - many thanks to all the very imaginative football strips that adorned the players! It was a game with a difference with Jesus as referee... a good thing, you may think. That omniscience sure would help out with the offside rule or with goal-line quibbles, it would even once and for all determine whether a player deliberately dived ("You know my thoughts even when I am far away..." Psalm 139:2).

But Jesus caused mayhem by ignoring the rules and stopping the game in order to give one of the players who had been left out, never included in the game, ignored by his other team mates, a chance to kick the ball and enter the game. [There's more...]

The point of which was to draw a comparison with Jesus' healing of the burdened woman with the crippled back on the Sabbath - breaking the rules about Sabbath observance in order to bring her back to full life and participation within the community (Luke 13: 10-17).

I was influenced by Leith Fisher's 2003 book exploring Luke's Gospel: The Widening Road - From Bethlehem to Emmaus when preparing today's sermon. Something that Leith picked up on that I didn't mention this morning, however, but is worth sharing is the poem by the great gaelic poet Sorley MacLean titled "A Highland Woman" here translated into English from the original Gaelic:

A Highland Woman

Hast Thou seen her, great Jew,
who art called the One Son of God?
Hast Thou seen on Thy way the like of her
labouring in the distant vineyard?

The load of fruits on her back,
a bitter sweat on brow and cheek,
and the clay basin heavy on the back
of her bent poor wretched head.

Thou hast not seen her, Son of the carpenter,
who art called the King of Glory,
among the rugged western shores
in the sweat of her food’s creel.

This Spring and last Spring
and every twenty Springs from the beginning,
she has carried the cold seaweed
for her children’s food and the castle’s reward.

And every twenty Autumns gone
she has lost the golden summer of her bloom,
and the Black Labour has ploughed the furrow
across the white smoothness of her forehead.

And Thy gentle church has spoken
about the lost state of her miserable soul,
and the unremitting toil has lowered
her body to a black peace in a grave.

And her time has gone like a black sludge
seeping through the thatch of a poor dwelling:
the hard Black Labour was her inheritance;
grey is her sleep tonight

Wow... it is powerful stuff. The hard-working salt-of-the-earth woman quietly getting on with her work to serve her family and community. And what of Jesus, son of the carpenter? Sorley gives him short thrift for ignoring the plight of this burdened woman.

What a contrast to the passage we thought about today.

Leith, in mentioning this poem, draws out the point that Sorley MacLean "grew up in an intensely religious atmosphere [on] the island of Raasay, early last century. It was a community of many virtues, but for the poet it obscured rather than bore witness to the Jesus we have encountered in today's gospel."

MacLean would have known all too well the endless debates about this or that theology, creating the image of a God far removed from the everyday concerns and cares of people like the Highland Woman. At church people would come to worship Jesus as he sat way above us (apart from sinful humanity), which perhaps in turn, at least for MacLean, would disconnect them from the reality of life around them. A travesty of what we read actually took place in Luke chapter 13 when Jesus cared, healed and released this woman from her burdens.

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