Wednesday last week offered a great sight (if you were up at 4 a.m.)- meteor showers, a
Comet, and planets named after three Roman gods- Mars the god of war, Jupiter the king of
gods and god of sky and storms, and Saturn the god of wealth, time and agriculture. That set
me thinking.
The Romans, like the Athenians Paul addresses in the Acts reading for this week, had many
gods. The Romans had over a hundred- a god for everything- and like the Athenians,
believed that there was a material benefit in offering sacrifices and worship to these. If one
wanted or needed anything, there was a god who could provide.
Effectively, through their sacrifices, there was the belief that things could change- it was
simply a matter of manipulating the appropriate god with the right worship and sacrifice.
Christianity is quite different. We simply cannot make God into what we want God to be.
Instead, it is our task to be conformed into what/who we believe God calls us to be, and
obedient to what God calls us to do. However, it is not always easy to set aside our own
beliefs and wants to read scripture without the lens of our own prejudices.
Despite that, it is exactly what our Basis of Union calls us to do in Paragraphs 5 and 11- to
take seriously the biblical witness, and the work of scholarly interpreters. It recognises that
the church in contemporary society may find occasions which demand that we “confess our
Lord in fresh words and deeds”. In doing this, it is God forming us, rather than us
manipulating God, and it is a challenge to accept that.
But Mars, Jupiter and Saturn did look good.
May you know the presence of God’s Spirit with you through this week.