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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Ordinary Sunday 28, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
October 10, 2021

Job 23:1-9; 16-17, Mark 10:17-31


‘Let go the cable, pick up the thread’

William Blake’s sketch of Job, his wife and his friends (1805) tells the story. Job seeks a God of goodness/justice. His friends try to help but can’t help blaming Job, the victim. Their theologies are rigid, their images of God fixed in place.

Still, Job, with his wife, faces the difficulty, embraces even this opportunity for learning, for reimagining. In the name of justice, for goodness’ sake, Job speaks. He says he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know where God is, who or why.

To his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, this hardly seems theology at all. The final words of chapter 23 are remarkable: “I’m not silenced by the darkness nor by the deep gloom that covers my face.”

Blake was one who read the book as charting a course from false to true faith. At book’s end, Job’s faith and speech (theo-poetics) are validated; his tormented passion for goodness/justice in contrast to the rational theologies of those who would comfort him.

The movement is seen in the gospel, too.

A person eager for life approaches Jesus and is challenged to let go dependence on familiar security, namely wealth and property, that a new freedom might be experienced.

There is humorous wordplay, too (thanks Clive for the midweek email). The Greek word translated “camel” sounds like the Greek word for “cable” (the pun works pretty well in English also). Some scholars suggest the cable was made of camel hair!

The invitation, then, is to dismount the (seated) camel of entitlement, to let go the cable of superiority (to make oneself smaller, humbler) … to give and to give away, to follow the way of Jesus, a certain intimacy – genuine love for others, especially victims of power and privilege, for neighbours in space and time.

Let go the cable of self-interest and pick up the thread of wisdom – the lifeline that connects … joins, holds, mends.

Let go the cable of colonial privilege; pick up the thread of covenant and advocacy.

Let go the cable of greed; pick up the thread of cooperation, sustainability.

The image connotes attentiveness – becoming single-minded with respect to goodness/justice.

We might imagine smaller appetites and smaller houses, sharper focus/awareness of climate crises and the urgent need for action, a more ethical and joyful future.

Unlike Job, the wealthy seeker of life in Mark’s gospel is unwilling to let go, and goes away downcast, a prisoner to both possessions and the conventions of prosperity doctrine.

Mark says that “Jesus looked at the person with love”.

Love lets go (forgives, confers freedom) that a chance might come again for the wealthy person, for the entitled, encumbered, foolish person (or people); in hope of goodness/justice, God’s kindom or commonwealth (an interwoven and interweaving world).

Pick up the thread, gossamer thin – it leads to new life with others. Amen.