Sunday 28th June 2020
4th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

This readings for this week cannot be simply or straightforwardly applied to the world of work. The passage from Romans introduces the theme of slavery, and it is important to note that while the writer seems accepting of the principle of slavery, historians tell us that this was a very different arrangement from what would be described as slavery today. There is obvious opportunity here to reflect on the issues of modern slavery, and to recognise how the world of work and employment is often a key element in this inhumane practice. Work has the potential to be a good and enriching reality, but can also be the means of exploitation and abuse. Our response as Christians is not to recoil from the world of work, but to reclaim it for the good that God intended. The slavery analogy, taken in appropriate context draws heavily on key employment principles that offer the potential for further reflection:

Seniority and responsibility: We might not use the language of slavery today, but the point is made that in a workplace situation, our actions will often be determined by our sense of obligation to our employer. In a workplace culture this often becomes so second nature, that we can easily find ourselves unconsciously complying to the expectations and values that prevail around us. Paul then applies this principle to our spiritual identity, he calls his readers to consciously recognise that they are no longer under such an obligation to sin they are working for a new boss - they are slaves to Christ

Remuneration: Paul follows the workplace imagery through with the assertion that the wages of sin is death. We might illustrate this by inviting the congregation to reflect on the principles that we tend to accept - a fair day's work deserves a fair day's pay; we set salaries and wages to reflect the job being done. God's grace cuts across this principle - whatever we might deserve, the gift of God is eternal life.

A small phrase at the end of the Gospel reading, offers itself as the basis of a useful commission as a congregation embraces their everyday lives. A cup of water given in Christ's name, can be the place where Christ is encountered. However we spend the working week, our interaction with others can be a powerful reflection and witness to our faith.