Sunday, 25 June 2017

Can't make it to church - 25 June 2017

In a week where the news has been full on the failings of the Church of England through the actions of wicked people, and compounded by the actions of foolish people who perhaps, placing the public face and the approval of the public, deceived and concealed. We can never put integrity and humility before truth, justice and compassion.

Today's readings offer us a most timely call. A call to return to basics, the teachings - and the lifestyle - of Jesus.

And we begin with Jeremiah's complaint against God - that God had deceived him - a serious and disturbing complaint indeed. So let's begin with a quick think about the context - the 'what's going on for him to say this' moment.

Jeremiah, born around 645 BC, was living when the Babylon was the force to be reckoned with - when the people of God were exiled - a time when there was so much wrong with those around him. And he was called to speak God's words into all this.

Have you ever felt like you are doing it, life, on your own? Are you struggling today?
Have you ever turned to God and asked Him where He is and why it was that we were going it alone?

I bet you have. I know I have engaged in those 'Where are you?' or 'What are you doing?' moments. Well that is exactly what Jeremiah is going though today. God has called him and told him that He'd be with Jeremiah: "You won't have to go it alone - I am with you!"

Well today Jeremiah is speaking the words we have all spoken but there's an edge here because although the best bet might be to shut up and keep out of the way - the call on Jeremiah is so great that this is impossible. He keeps getting back in the ring because the call on his life is not only what he is called to do but it is also what he is called to be. And this is the same for us all - regardless of how many punches come in - we keep on and we get up and get back into the ring. And yet, even when we feel deserted and alone, even when we shout out to God because He is absent - He will never leave us or forsake us, He will never take His love or His enabling - we just need to look in our corner of the ring and see Him there, ready to tend to our wounds, refresh us with Living Water and cheer us on.

The problem is that when engaged in the battle we can't see who is behind us or who is in our corner.

Are we Jeremiah today? 
I know that I have been this week and am grateful for today's reminder that God has not deceived us - we are not alone!

Not only are we not alone but the Gospel gives us the words in the image above as a reminder that not only is this true  but that we are precious and are never outside of the 'Father's care'. So to add to the words Jeremiah has brought us to, we need to add the words from Matthew:

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In the Romans passage, Paul pops in to the conversations and calls us to live lives empowered by the fact that we are forgiven and strengthened by the knowledge that we are God's and that He never deserts us we climb back into the ring and contend with the people, the desires, and those things which act to separate us from God. 

There is a view doing the round that seeks to convince us that whatever we do, the Grace of God (that forgiveness and redemption power) is always greater than our sin. (and this is true) and that whenever we fail and fall to sin, God's Grace covers it (this is also true).  BUT, these same people then tell us that because we 'cannot out sin God's Grace' (also true) we need to look at living in assurance rather than struggle to overcome the sin; after all, God is bigger than it and forgives us. "Why struggle when would merely nod to God and leave it to Him to forgive us - be happy?" (and this is wrong).

Paul reminds us that just because God covers our sins - our weaknesses and failing - it doesn't gibe us permission to abuse His grace, but instead calls us to live better lives because of that very same grace. we have to get into the ring and contend - it's what 'living like Jesus' is all about!

Today, and the days ahead, may we all find in ourselves the strength to get back in the ring and take on the things that cause us to stumble, to fear and cry out, "Where the heck are You God? and, looking to our corner, praise Him that however many ounces are coming in.

We are not alone.

Jeremiah 20.7-13
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!  Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”

All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten. Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.

Romans 6.1b-11
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 10.24-39
‘The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

‘So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘“a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

The Collect
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayers
Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

No comments: