Sermon given at Pytchley & Orlingbury 4 before Lent 9.4.14
Adapted for LH & GH 5.2.17
Readings: OT/Epistle 1 Cor 2: 1-12 Gospel Matt 5: 13-20
Jesus needs to build the disciples’ confidence – the parable of salt & light encourages them and makes them think about the lasting and growing effect that small actions, teachings, words of advice can have on people’s lives which we hear about in their stories (what someone did, a teacher said, etc)
So when we feel overwhelmed by the task in front of us, issues at work, in family, in local community, or by national or world problems (Syria, refugees, NHS, care of elderly, etc) – we need to think of those few original disciples and, like them, turn to God to seek his wisdom and guidance and then do our bit! Even our tiny bit does contribute to ongoing solutions and ideas.
Christianity grew as small groups of people gathered together to worship, pray, and to DO God’s will in their communities. Paul is trying to encourage such small groups of people faced by a disbelieving populace – bit like us today sometimes!
Crucifixion was regarded in the ancient world as so horrible, so revolting, so degrading, that you didn’t mention it in polite society. Imagine someone at a dinner-party going on in a loud voice about how he’d seen rats eating a dead dog in the street – that’s the kind of impression you’d make in 1st century if, in some public place, you started talking about someone who’d been crucified.
But Paul knew that Jesus’ crucifixion held the key to a deep and mysterious wisdom that can truly bring a positive effect to the tricky problems we face in life. CS Lewis described it as “the deep magic from beyond the dawn of time”.
Exploring the depths of God’s mysterious wisdom takes a lifetime – and however early or late we start our explorations, there’s always more to discover. It’s a bit like learning maths – our understanding is built on our previous discoveries.
As Paul says, we can’t do this on our own – this is God’s mysterious deep wisdom we’re exploring – so we need to spend time with God and ask him to fill us with his Holy Spirit so that the Holy Spirit can guide our learning – and, in turn, our actions.
Christianity spread because people discovered that developing a relationship with God through Christ made such a positive difference to their lives – and because, over the years, the decades and the centuries, they saw it spreading like salt and light and making a difference to many people’s lives. It is, after all, what led eventually to the abolition of slavery and to the concept of human rights which we almost take for granted now but which was once an alien concept among human beings!
And because we know what a difference Jesus can make in our lives we want others to develop their own relationship with him too. So it was really encouraging to see so many of you at the Joint PCC last week when Revd Charlie Nobbs came from the diocese to talk to us about this.
He fed us with Liquorice All Sorts – these now have a jelly baby type sweet – just one or perhaps two in each pack – they’re called Bertie Bassetts and Charlie said they represented the people in our churches who were keen to start new things to spread the gospel and help people encounter God’s love for them – each PCC identified the ‘Bertie Bassetts’ in their church.
Charlie Nobbs has offered to come back to run an evening on how we help people to grow in faith, especially young families and people who have begun to attend things like Café Church, Messy Church, family services etc. How do you move them from coming to outreach events into coming to church regularly. If you would be interested in coming to such an evening please tell your churchwardens or me so we can arrange a date and time that will suit people.