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“Blessed are the cheese-makers” – is my cheese sandwich an abomination?

July 27, 2013

Blessed are the cheese-makers” – “I think he is referring to the whole dairy industry”.

Those are my recollections of a snatch of conversation from Monty Python‘s, The Life of Brian. They are from my memory so they are probably a little out but they are imagined conversations from some of the people at the back of the crowd listening to Jesus teaching. They can’t quite hear the message so they do their best to fill in the gaps.

That is how I often feel when trying to listen to Jesus today. I am straining to hear a distant figure, with a whole crowd of people who won’t sit still and let me listen. People offer opinions, but often that only makes it harder for me to hear what is being said. Theology can be a good thing but it can also cloud my mind to what Jesus is saying right now, to me and to you.

So, “Blessed are the cheese-makers”, and me and all of you. But how do I listen to what Jesus wants to say?

We have books and study courses to help us with this, but really the answer is blindingly simple – Ask.

2,000 years ago Jesus said, “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11.9-10). So I don’t just hang around at the edge of the crowd wondering why cheese-makers are blessed and bakers are not – leading to that vexed question, “Is my cheese sandwich therefore an abomination?”. I don’t do that, I need to go up and ask Jesus what he was talking about; I need to ask, seek and then there’s a good chance that I’ll find.

But all of this has to be on Jesus’ terms. I need to listen to what he wants to say, to respect his priorities, not mine. I might want the answer to the Church’s arguments over women bishops or homosexuality, but Jesus may well have something else to say to me. What I do know is that what Jesus does say will be the right thing for me and for that moment.

The Father has only good things to give his children, so I know I can trust what is said. I know it, but I’m stubborn. I still want the answers to my questions, my questions so quickly become the IMPORTANT QUESTIONS again in my mind.

I need to go back to the simple prayer given by Jesus (from Luke 10.2-4):

“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.” – It is not my priorities that are important. It is our Father that I worship, it is his kingdom and priorities that are important and only them. Our Father’s kingdom is the whole world, so if his kingdom comes, then all my problems and all of the world’s problems will be solved as well.

But it may be some time before God’s kingdom comes, or even before I can really recognise it when I see it. So, for now I need to get on in this world. So, “Give us each day our daily bread”. – I know that, as I ask and seek I will have all that I need to keep me going, but nothing more than that is promised. The kingdom is the priority not wealth or anything else.

So, “lead us not into temptation”. – Please Father, as I listen to Jesus don’t let me be tempted by the distractions around me. May I not be distracted by wealth, by my nice car and house, or anything else.

But when I fail, “Forgive us our sins”. – I will need it.

And finally, “we also forgive everyone who sins against us”. – Perhaps the hardest part to do, but living this forgiveness may just be the key to asking the right questions, and knocking on the right doors. I’ll give it a go and see.

So, “Blessed are the cheese-makers”, blessed is the whole dairy industry, and me and all of you out there. As our Father’s children lets sneak up through the crowd to hear Jesus word’s, to ask, seek and find.

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