Today's PAYG centred on Mark 4: 21- 25
He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’
It's one those familiar parables that seems self-explanatory, that all the meaning has been wrung from it, that the light it provides has been uncovered... or has it?
As I listened this morning I was struck by the suggested motive of 'hiding' and 'secret' which is evidently 'disclosure' and 'coming to light.' These seem actually quite positive reasons for hiding something until the time is right for it to be revealed... it reminded me of the way parents hide presents so that their children will be surprised on their birthday or at Christmas... it reminded me of surprise parties and mystery trips, planned to bring joy and pleasure to the recipient. You don't hide a lamp that you bring into a house because it is self-evident that you bring it in for immediate use - but maybe other things are legitimately hidden or concealed 'for now. As I type this, I find vague stirrings of a memory that a 'hidden messiah' motif may be present in Mark - all the 'say nothing to anyone' commands because it is not yet time for the grand 'reveal'.
I was also struck afresh by the 'measure for measure' message, usually seen as a kind of generous reciprocity: if you are kind you will receive kindness, generous generosity, etc. etc. And if you don't have these then you will lack them even more. But can this be read in the converse? If you are angry you will receive anger, bitter bitterness, vengeful vengeance, etc. etc? And it you do not have these characteristics does their potential grow less?
Many years ago, having not long moved house, I was chatting to someone in a similar situation. Commenting that people seemed to be friendly she observed that she had always been told that you find what you expect - if you expect people to be friendly, you will be friendly yourself, and vice versa. It may not be entirely true, but its not a bad starting point. 'What you give is what you get' - if you expect the good you will find good. 'What you don't have will dwindle away' - values, attitude, practices, those we cultivate grow stronger, those we neglect decline.
All very fine and dandy but ultimately, 'so what'? There seems to be something here about self-awareness and deliberately choosing to ‘grow’ positive attitudes to the inevitable detriment of negative ones. Something about seeking and expecting to find good in others. Something about the surprised delight when something that was ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ is discovered – whether that is new knowledge, new friendship or shared understandings.
This may be in no measure :-) what the parable is about but it certainly brought a little more light to my thinking and reflecting.