Sunday, 9 July 2017

Can't make it to church - 9 July 2017

The Zechariah reading is for me (and hopefully others) a walk down memory lane as I find Jesus and Palm Sunday racing into my mind's eye and the words of Handel's Messiah echoing in my ears (yes, I know it's silent!). And that's right and fitting for this is a real 'Messiah' rich passage.

Those who stood opposed to God's people have been brought down but there's more, not only have they been defeated but the promised King is portrayed, entering Jerusalem in triumph and riding on a donkey! A donkey????

It was all going so well until the donkey turned up wasn't it? But rather than something farcical as the donkey rather than a big Arabian steed rigged out in its finery might suggest, what we have before us is a humble King rather than a poser!

One of the things that bugs me is the Holy Roman Empire and what happens to Church because of it. One minute we are all about humility and love and Grace and then it;s all about power and wealth and influence. All the gentle, loving, gave-filled stuff goes out of the window. This is a call to set aside all the power language and living and instead get out there and proclaim God's peace to the world we inhabit until the shalom of jesus, the Christ, is made real.

So let's get the shalominess flowing, because when we do we will find healing, restoration and God's kingdom made manifest in all the created world. After all, this is what jesus died to make real isn't it?

The Romans presents us with a real challenge as it brings before us what can often be one of the hardest words in the English language: 'NO!"

We know what we want and yet we do what we do not want? What a contrary bunch of people we are!

At Bible college we got really bound up in this passage as we decided what paul was saying about himself and us together. But I think it's simpler than the theologians might have had me believe for, at the end of the day, what this passage is about has parallels in the excesses we see in the live of those who have are addicted to certain things.

I have friends who told me that taking drugs open their minds and enriched their lives and yet in the end they were controlled and bound by the very things that were supposedly going to set them free. The were doing the things they knew to be wrong because of the control they had given to it.

A young woman in our area once told us how she equated sex with love and therefore sex set her free to love, and be loved more; and yet eventually she found herself doing things (and having things done to her) because what she though would set her free had made her a prisoner trapped in a cell of her own making.

These two examples show how weanifest in our lives - and if we call upon the Lord He will empower us and lead us into the paths of righteousness.

What a great promise that is, isn't it? The enemy will be defeated and the humble King will enter in in triumph into our lives.

Hallelujah or what?

Which brings us to the Matthew reading and the two points I'd like you to take from it (for there are a number of possible messages) are this:

We are all like the children playing and fighting in the street that this passage draws on. We, today, just like then, struggle with the things of God and of Jesus, His Son and Messiah. hearing the call they find themselves splitting hairs and being divided; just like those struggling to decide whether it's hospital or Mums and Dads (weddings or funerals) they want to play and as a result they end up playing neither of them.

Unless we make a choice we are destined to do nothing and to find ourselves still arguing when the Lord returns.  So listen to what is on offer and make your choice before it's too late.

and the second point, which resonates with the Romans rather nicely is this:

Jesus came to take upon Himself the burden of our sin. He offers to come alongside and to share the load. All too often we  find the world and the false people in it portraying themselves as one who will come alongside and help actually add to the burden that is upon us. Jesus speaks in Matthew of those leaders who burden the people - This is not what jesus does, He truly takes away our sins and all the religious baggage that so many would like to lay upon us.

Truly, those whom the Son sets free are free indeed. So what we need to do is 'Choose life' in Jesus, for in Him we will find we have it in abundance. So be in partnership (yoked) now rather than in condemnation later. Better an obedient relatio make sin ours and pass control over us to it to do with us as it pleases. Our body takes upon itself the things of the flesh (where 'flesh' means the sinful stuff we submit our bodies too). try as we might we, having handed ourselves over to sin, need the salvation won for us by the Christ to be made real and mnship which brings restoration and lightness the load now than something much less beneficial and harder to bear later!

The Collect
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Zechariah 9:9-12
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, He will proclaim peace to the nations
His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Romans 7:13-25
Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means!
Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Are we playing the same game?

Matthew 11:16-30
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Post Communion Prayer
Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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