Thoughtsfor Thursday 4th June, 2020

Psalm 8; Job 38:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:8-12a

 Thursday 4 June- Rev. Jerry Eve

 Matthew 21:

 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,

16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

 

You may spot some entirely different theme yourself today, but for me the theme that emerges from reading these passages is ‘Teacher and Taught’. And a key text with respect to this theme, I think, is Matthew 21:16 in which Jesus quotes directly from Psalm 8:2. We often confuse teachers and taught, and what Jesus is saying here to the chief priests and scribes is that you may think the children are here in the Temple to learn from you, but it’s actually the other way round.

 Psalm 8 is a wonderfully poetic psalm. It was the inspiration behind two great hymns – For the beauty of the earth and How great thou art – and the Church of Scotland hymnary has two extremely good popular settings: 1) From the Scottish Psalter we have How excellent in all the earth set to the same tune as the Scottish paraphrase While humble shepherds watched their flocks i.e. Winchester Old, and 2) John Bell’s O Lord, our Lord, throughout the earth set to the Scottish folk melody, Tramps and Hawkers. I think the association of this psalm with those at the lowermost point of the socio-economic strata is quite appropriate.

 

And that’s because both our psalm and Old Testament reading, are intended to have the effect, it seems to me, of humbling us as human beings. We may be crowned with glory and honour (Psalm 8:5), but we can’t answer even a single one of the questions God asks of Job. And what’s more, to be given the task of ruler over all creation (as we are in Psalm 8:6) can only be interpreted ironically given the monumental mess we’ve managed to make of it.

 

In 2 Timothy, Paul refers to himself as a teacher (verse 11), but I do think we need to be very wary of ever doing that. I would much prefer Paul had remembered Jesus’ saying at Matthew 23:8 instead i.e. that, ‘You must not be called ‘Teacher,’ because you are all equal and have only one Teacher.’ And that, of course, is God. Which brings us to Job 38:3 where God tells Job to ‘Stand up straight!’

 

(Stop slouching. Have some respect. Do as you’re told. And don’t be cheeky.)

 Let us pray:

 (TEACHER'S PRAYER by Allan Ahlberg)

 

Let the children in our care
Clean their shoes and comb their hair;
Come to school on time - and neat
Blow their noses, wipe their feet.
Let them, Lord, not eat in class
Or rush into the hall en masse.
Let them show some self-control;
Let them slow down; let them stroll!

Let the children in our charge
Not be violent or large;
Not be sick on the school-trip bus,
Not be cleverer than us;
Not be unwashed, loud or mad,
(With a six-foot mother or a seven-foot dad).
Let them, please, say 'drew' not drawed';
Let them know the answers, Lord!

 

Amen.


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