Sunday 7th November 2021
24th Sunday after Pentecost

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

(Alternatives: 1 Kings 17:8-16; Psalm 146 )

Why do we work? This is a question often answered in economic terms; work is the means by which we earn our living, some even distinguish it from other lifestyle pursuits by describing it as "economic activity". Economics tend to define the world of work, economic growth is often seen as its chief end; economic reward its primary outcome.

Both of the Old Testament readings today challenge such a simplistic outlook. In each case, material security is the key outcome, but this comes about not because people have made this their primary investment but rather have placed their trust in a covenant God. Ruth finds the thing within the covenant community that Elimelech left it to pursue; Elijah declares that famine is a consequence of the nation's abandonment of God's covenant, yet unlike Elimelech, finds sustenance not through his own schemes but by following God's instruction.

These core messages are reinforced by the Psalms. The NT Epistle reminds us that we too are a covenant people, while the Gospel reading highlights that we are not called to be a community that absorbs people's finances for its own ends, but rather inspires believers to use their finances (great and small) for God's glory and in devotion to Him. God is not impressed with the bottom line, so much as the spirit of generosity that we foster.

These readings come together offer poignant challenges for today's world of work, where so much can easily become driven by economics alone. Today we might pray for those who work other world of finance, also remembering those who offer debt advice, financial support etc. or those who face economic hardship.