Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Sermon January 31, 2016

Last Sunday I gave you a preview of this week’s Gospel where Jesus is ridden out of town on a rail so to speak.  His understanding who he is—the fulfillment of scripture and his proclamation of the Kingdom of God did not sit well with the people and particularly the religious and civil authorities.  As we know, this led to Good Friday and the ultimate triumph of Easter Sunday.   As we are fallible humans and therefore accept that we cannot know with certainty God’s will how are we to proceed as Christians and the Church—the Body of Christ until his return. 
We can stand back and ask ourselves, “How could the leaders of the church and the civil authorities and the Jews not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Messiah”.  But the question for us today is, “where would we have stood with those people in the Synagogue in Jesus’ home town if we had heard him proclaim that message.  I have serious doubts I would have been there to stand up for him much less defend him when the crowd wanted to throw him off the cliff to get rid of this troublesome rabbi.   How can we stand with Jesus as individuals and as the Body of Christ in the world today?
The answer is here before us this morning in the Epistle.  Paul tells us that we cannot know things for certain.  He tells us that we can only see things i.e. the truth of God, as one looking in a mirror, dimly.  As an aside, I must say that I prefer the poetry of the KJV, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”.
The will of God does seem at times like trying to get a hold of smoke or grasping at straws.  We get a glimpse through that dark glass and we realize that it is beyond our grasp and it slips away as dreams often do when we wake up in the morning.  We realize that our will and God’s do not adhere and unfortunately no matter how hard we try we will allow our will to win. 
However, if we were to give up and leave it there we would be with Peter and the disciples who ran denied Jesus and ran away from the cross in fear and confusion.  We know that Peter and the disciples turned around and repented that understandable sin.  Fortunately Paul tells us what the answer is when we despair of ever seeing more clearly through that dark glass following Jesus and knowing the will of God.  Paul tells us that God is a God of Love.  Paul tells us that we may have earthy success and wealth and power and even lead a virtuous life but if we do not have love we have nothing:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
The Beetles got it right in their song “All you Need is Love”:
There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.  It's easy.  All you need is love. Love is all you need.
Well perhaps they didn’t get all of it right.  All you do need is love but it’s not easy.  Consider this; when was the last time that you wanted something for yourself that was not the best for someone else.  Or put it another way when was the last time you put the needs of someone before your own needs?  I must confess that it wasn’t that long ago for me—to be generous with myself, perhaps a few hours ago. No, John, George Paul and Ringo, it’s not easy.  But it is possible.
What we are dealing with here is sin.  As our baptismal covenant asks, “Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?”  The answer is, “I will, with God’s help”.  Let‘s try that together…
It’s that simple and that hard.  We need to love God and one another as God loves us.  When, not if but when, we don’t we need to repent, to turn around and try again.  Thank God we have the forgiveness of sin that is offered to us in our baptism through Jesus Christ our saviour.   
We are going into our Vestry meeting following worship.  Let us remember to let love be the guide on all that we consider in the meeting and let the love of God direct all our decisions.  Let love be our guiding principle in all we do in St. John’s in the year following until next Vestry and in every Vestry to come. 

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