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Minister's letter for 16 June

Dear Friends,

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life'.....He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come." John 8:12, 20

Looking at this passage whilst preparing for a Bible study I was intrigued by the detail, seemingly inconsequential, that Jesus was teaching by the treasury in the Temple. Why include that detail? This passage comes at the end of a long and tense interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees during the Festival of Booths (Tabernacles, Sukkot). Jesus' great knowledge and teaching was unsettling, and try as they might, Jesus would not be manipulated into providing a response that could be acted upon by the authorities with minimum fuss.

When they brought a woman, allegedly caught in the act of adultery, and according to the laws punishable by stoning, (although 7:53-8:11 is considered by most scholars to have been added in to this gospel- it is interesting to consider why someone thought this story should be included here), even then Jesus sidestepped the question and challenged their perception of sin and its judgement.

Jesus' claim – I am the light of world – was made in this to-ing and fro-ing of who the Pharisees and the people understood Jesus to be, some convinced he was a prophet, others the Messiah and some ready to dismiss him simply because he was from Galilee. And in the chaos no one could decide whether to arrest him or not.

So why the detail about the treasury?

It was a place which was accessible to both men and women. It was also the Festival of Booths when people would bring their tithes and donations to the Temple treasury. It was a very busy, very public place, full of spiritual significance. And it was here, in front of so many, that Jesus' response to the Pharisees' challenge would have been noted. They did not know who Jesus was or where he had come from.

I wonder when was the last time you spoke about your faith or proclaimed the good news publicly? Even in our churches /sacred spaces it can feel like a risky thing to do, or we assume that everyone knows already. How can we intentionally, prayerfully and meaningfully use these public places to bring about light? Not to condemn and judge each other with perceived failings, but to challenge in a way that is life giving and enhancing for all of us. How can we continue to walk in light and encourage all those we meet to do the same?

Every blessing,
Rev Karen

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