Sermon given at Pytchley, Trinity 19, Year C, 6.10.13, GH 2.10.16
Readings: OT/Epistle 2 Tim 1: 1-14 Gospel Luke 17: 5-10
This letter to Timothy is a very personal defence of a life lived as a follower of Jesus, a life about to be snuffed out. It is shot through with the pathos you would expect if the author was on trial for his life. Basically we have here an older man writing to encourage a younger man to hold onto the true Christian faith in order to commend it to others.
It’s obvious from the content of the letters to Timothy that they were written at a time when the Christian faith was being challenged by people with different ideas – bit like our situation today with all of us being much more aware of other faiths – and those who don’t belong to a particular faith often develop a ‘pick & mix’ spirituality!!
Paul was worried that the erroneous teaching threatened to strip the good news of its power to change lives and to bring disparate people together. He wants to ensure that those who come after him will live in the same way and he urges the Timothy to treat the gospel message, the good news of Jesus, as a treasure that’s been entrusted to him – he says: guard the good treasure entrusted to you with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
I remember an older lady in my last church saying to Bishop Tim: I don’t know how people can live without knowing about God and about Jesus. The gospel is indeed a precious treasure – but it’s not something we’re meant to take possession of and ferret away for safe keeping. The gospel is not ours to keep just for ourselves – it’s ours to share with others and to pass on down the generations!
As Jesus walked around welcoming, healing and forgiving people he called all sorts of misfits to join him – and that led him to clash with the Pharisees who thought that being God’s people was a privilege they should keep to themselves!
So – if we don’t want to be like the Pharisees, if we want to follow Jesus as Paul and Timothy’s family did, then we too need to share the treasure of the gospel with others. And one of the best ways to do that is to read bible stories.
Stories are the main way we process issues – just think what an effect the Archers story about insidious domestic abuse has had recently!!
Stories help us think about various aspects of life. Fairy stories were devised as a way of helping young children to learn that life can be difficult or sad, that there are nasty people and nasty things in our world – we tell fairy stories to children while they’re in the security and warmth of their home, probably close to you so they’re feeling safe.
Bible stories are a way of helping us to learn about God, to think about God, how he wants us to live, etc. – they’ve been told for generations as a means of passing on our ethics and morals, as well as our faith.
OTB is a way of acting out the stories for our school children – and they certainly remember them! As well as enjoy them!!
There is SO much wisdom in the bible about how to live a wholesome joyful life – it’s a real pity to ignore it! So do tell your children bible stories – there are lots of lovely books these days for different child ages.
And have a read of them yourself some times in an adult bible. The story of Joseph is about favouritism, jealousy, bad behaviour, forgiveness, and restoration. Recently Lesley Marriott shared with me her thrill at acquiring a bible with commentary and the interesting extra things she’s learning about well-known bible stories – there is such depth and wisdom in them that we can explore, that will benefit us.
Gillian’s bible reading and tasting club will be an excellent way of discussing bible stories with other people so that together you can learn more from them.