Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Sermon July 23, 2017 6th Sunday after Trinity

Being baptized in to death is not a very appealing idea.  I don’t know about you but the idea of dying is not something I embrace and welcome.

We do not normally embrace death.  Indeed, I was listening to a program on CBC radio this week an episode of Ideas, that wonderful program that explores exactly as it is named ideas for our world today.  This episode was an interview with Yuval Harari.  He is an historian who speculates about where humankind is heading.  A lot of his speculation is hopeful but a lot of it is troubling.
Harari proposes that the next great technological breakthrough is going to be the development of immortalityor at least the quest for it.  He proposes that no one would want to have a pill that would guarantee you a life span of a million years.  However, he says that everyone (he does qualify by saying almost everyone) would agree to living ten years longer in good health.  Harari proposes that technological breakthroughs will offer extended life and extended mental capacity to people.  However, as with all technology it will be at a priceone that is going to be very expensive.  What will then develop is a Brave New World with biologically separated classesa cast system which will be based on biological inequality.

This is a very frightening possibility.  But if you look at the premise, who wouldn’t want to extend their lives by ten years of good health,  Then when the ten years is over you can be offered another ten years and so on and so one – ad infinitum.  It would be a renewable contract.  I certainly would like a longer life in good health.  But opening that Pandora’s Box of eternal life is another matter entirely.  I don’t know how many times I would want to renew that contract.

What would it mean if we did not have the reality of our mortality informing our lives?  We would certainly be tempted to believe that we were like God’s and live our lives accordingly.  Out mythological first parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden as God feared they would eat of the tree of life and become gods.  The danger of that temptation has been a reality since we began to walk this earth. 

How, then, does this relate to being baptized into death to being buried with Jesus by baptism into death?  It is exactly this desire to be immortal that the story of the Garden of Eden was warning against.  When we are baptized into death with Christ it is exactly what we are dying to.  We are dying to the old life in which we can have the temptation that we can be like god and have life eternal and all the power that goes with it.

When we are baptised we die to the old life of desiring to be in control of our live and trying to maintain that control of ourselves and our world.  Jesus came into the world to show us that this way of being was wrong.  The old way of being was a way that wanted to control our lives to the extent that we try to ensure that God would give us what we want.  The old way of the covenant was to live in a way that God would give us what we want.  The Israelites believed that if they lived according to the commandments not just ten but all 900 or so of them—God would grant them a favoured existence.  In effect, God would give them what they wanted.  God sent his son into the world to show us that there is another way. 

It is a way that is based on love.  He tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and mind and soul and mind and strength; and to love your neighbour—including your enemies—as yourself.

He also came to give us the grace of forgiveness.  When we do not follow this commandment—when we do not try or when we try and do not succeed—we will be forgiven and we are given the opportunity to try again.  That is the new life that we are born to when we rise out of the waters of baptism.

How then are we to live in a life of love; loving God and loving our neighbours?  Well the Gospel hymn gives us a pretty sound picture of what it would look like. 

O Master, let me walk with thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me thy patience; still with thee
in closer, dearer company,
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
in trust that triumphs over wrong;

In hope that sends a shining ray
far down the future's broadening way,
in peace that only thou canst give,
with thee, O Master, let me live. Amen 

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