Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sermon Sunday 20th October: Pester Power

Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Luke 18: 1-8

If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again.... as I discovered with the children, generally when we are learning; and when we are preparing; and when something is really worth it – it takes time.

In our grown up world, this is a lesson we have learned – and one that advertisers and merchandisers know all too well: if you repeat it often enough, then eventually people will remember your slogan; your product; your promise.

 Pester power works – and today’s parable shows that pester power is timeless! Not a new invention at all.

There is Pester Power in both of today’s readings; similar but different:

In the Old Testament – it is God who persists, continuing to love, continuing to honour the covenant, even though many would say the people didn’t deserve it.

Yet God remains faithful.
God’s love is eternal, never-ending: Perfectly Persistent. 
What a contrast with the Grumpy Old Man in Jesus’ parable!
Here is a man of power and influence: the judge; who nevertheless is not a very nice man.
He’s not only grumpy; he isn’t fair either.
He respects no one; he has no regard for God, or God’s Law.
And, even in the face of a cut & dried case, he won’t act for this widow.

She however is made of strong stuff!
She doesn’t take no for an answer! She knows she is in the right, so she persists.
She understands the timeless truth of Pester Power!
I imagine she began in hope; returning every few weeks. But as time went by she became more resolute: so she stepped it up... to weekly perhaps.
By now I can also imagine those around her were beginning to tell her to give it up; to admit defeat.
But she is stronger than that. She has right on her side.
So she steps it up again – daily.
Waiting outside the court; following him to dinner; waking early so as to greet him leaving his house.

He may have been disrespectful and unfair and partial in his judgement; but he also knew when he was beat!
He gave in, just to get some peace.

Pester Power… not nagging but the persistence of Godly love, which nags at us, and enables us to grow, to move, to forgive, to speak the truth in love. Contrast that with the Grumpy-Old-Man judge, who gave in, not out of love, but exasperation.

When Jesus tells the parable of the widow persevering in her demands for justice in the face of the opposition of an uncaring judge, He is offering His listeners (including us!) a memorable image of what persevering in prayer means.

I am sure we all have times when we feel that prayer is getting us nowhere - that it is all a waste of time - and been tempted to lose heart and give up.

Jesus knew this would happen - in fact, He had probably met people who had felt their prayers weren’t answered - and many who had lost heart.

It is a fact of prayer that there will be times when we won’t get what we ask for - however fervently we pray.

Others may “reassure” us and say that we are not praying for the right thing. They are probably right - but it isn’t much of a consolation.

Sometimes, our prayer isn’t asking for anything - and we still feel that God isn’t listening - even to our words and prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

There is no easy explanation for this. It simply is the way it is!

It is our challenge; our task to continue, because when the time comes and we are able to look back – suddenly we can see answered prayers; we can see solutions and responses

The easiest option when facing any challenge - in all aspects of our life - may seem to be to give it all up as a bad job! In the short-term, this may even seem to have been the right thing to do.

 But somewhere inside, there usually remains a niggle - what if I had...?

We may see people who faced the same challenge as us and who did see it through - and we see their growth as people.

Witnessing that, we realise what might have been; what can be possible – if we just keep trying.

Jesus is trying to encourage His disciples to see beyond the short-term and the supposed non-response from God.

Because, if, in the end, even the unjust judge caves in and gives justice - how much more can we trust that the God of Justice will see justice done for us.

Jesus concludes - rather sadly it seems - by asking “Will He find any faith on earth?” 

Jeremiah reminds us that God’s perfect persistence in loving us is unending;

Jesus reminds us that persistence pays off

Pester Power doesn’t need to be a negative wearing down and giving in

It can be; it should be – a beautiful, powerful, relational conversation between us and the Creator: because God is not the Grumpy-Old-Man judge who gives in just to regain his peace

God is our loving parent: who forgives us; listens to us and Perfectly, Persistently Loves

If we can hold that – then the answer to Jesus’ question, “Will the Son of Man find faith on earth?” is yes!! Yes! Yes!


1 comment:

  1. Julie, I don't think it's too long, but you know your context. Very good news that pestering (persisting) is God's nature, so it is in our nature to be persistent too.

    Many blessings as you preach this today!