compliant children?

Lectionary Christmas 2A January 5th 2014

Ephesians 3:3-14

Reflective notes – possible sermon ideas

Is the wish of all parents to have compliant children? Not obedient because if we are aiming for that surely there is dominance and submission and we want our children to grow into independent, free thinking adults.

But who comply with our requests when we need them to. So picture a scene before Christmas, the week before or maybe the eve of Christmas Eve. The scene is the local multinational supermarket and the main characters are a parent, we’ll say a mother but the story would work equally well with a father, and a multitude of children, we’ll say four because that is more than is usual, even in Ireland, but not excessive so it is hard to imagine. So mother and children, a teenager, a prepubescent, a just found out the truth and one still happily sitting in the myth of Santa Claus, ages are unimportant.

On entering the scene the main protagonist notes how busy the tills look, lots of harassed people, screaming children and flustered checkout assistants. Oh she thinks, it’s busy but doable, the kids will help, they are the best and she sets out her stall to the kids. There is a list and she heads into the fruit and veg section, sending the two older ones in forays down the next aisle to bring back bananas and clementines whilst chatting amiably to the smaller ones about sprouts and carrots, colours and shapes.

Onto the meat section, still reticent after the horsemeat scandal, she chooses carefully. The older boy chooses this time to tease the shy teenage girl and blood, death and slaughter of lambs. At the same time know-it-all number three decides to tell “The Truth” to the wee one. Almighty war broke out with two sets of battle commencing. Hush children, she could just about muster some control when a strange looking man rolled over her foot with his trolley and completed his move by putting the back wheel over it too.

It was too much, she couldn’t cope and joined in the age old siren scream of exasperated parents everywhere. “Will you just behave, this once.” As if they had never behaved well.

We are worst at parenting, when we are harassed, rushing, jostling. Whatever the reason we are rushing, we just expect them to comply, because we are rushing. Imagining the ideal parenting scenario of shuffling through leaves in the park, followed by collecting the myriad of colours and shapes to take home and make crayon rubbings or a collage whilst sipping hot chocolate by the warm fire.

What is the difference?

Time.

In the second scenario there are no time constraints, no chores, no dinner to make, no laundry to clean, no work to go to or study to complete. The parent has all the time in the world to spend nurturing, educating and parenting the children. Those children might still have battles but when there is no external time pressures or stresses, the parent is well able to cope, stop battles, listen to the children as individuals and love spend time with them.

But in reality how often do parents think of the gift of kairos time. Infinite God given time. We are not in time, we are in Christ. What is the point of gracefully tip toeing in khronos when we can be grace filled in kairos.

The reading today comes from the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians. In it he explains the marvellous plan God has for the Gentiles. It is full of the imagery of mysteries made known, of the fullness of God and God’s perfect goodness.

Our children, when we allow them, pull us out of time and Christ if we allow him pulls us out of time. When we rush about doing things in our own strength we get exhausted, we need lots of rest, we can’t cope, we become anxious and panic sets in. Doing things in God’s time, means we see each moment as an opportunity. An opportunity to fellowship, an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord, an opportunity to share the Good News, an opportunity to thank God, an opportunity to revel in his love, an opportunity to repent. Each moment is full of possibilities.

But I can hear you as I hear myself but there is x to do, and y to do, the dinner won’t make itself, the shirts won’t iron themselves, work, study, chores.

Stop.

Get off the merry go round of khronos and jump into kairos.

Verse 12 says “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. We are free. We have been set free from the chains of sin and we now live in Christ and he in us. We should be celebrating that in each moment.

This passage is about the revealing of a mystery, the things that were hidden are now seen. Paul never says he knows everything, but that he has been given an insight into the mystery of Christ.

This Sunday is a time to reflect on our journey, it is a time to perhaps re-engage with the gospel, to reaffirm our covenant with God.

I think back to the scriptures portraying that first Christmas when Jesus was born and ask us all, do we follow the example of the shepherds who went from the stable to tell about Jesus, and ‘all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.’

Or are we caught up in our own lives so much that we relegate God to an hour on Sunday.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

That’s the best news of all, isn’t it. God lavishes grace without boundaries; we merely receive. The best reminder of grace is Communion. Communion, can be seen as the sign of God’s promise-his promise to forgive. God offers us His son.

God cannot accept unholiness, so Jesus steps in. Jesus takes our place, so that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus instead. So it’s Jesus’ blood-spilled on the cross as He suffered and died.

It’s Jesus’ body, beaten, tortured and bruised by soldiers and a mocking crowd – nailed to the cross to take our place. The women, oh how they wailed. The crowd, oh how they watched. The rulers, oh how they sneered. The soldiers, oh how they mocked, and even a criminal on the next-door cross how he insulted him.

Jesus took our place, because God loves us, and God is willing to do anything to buy us back from our sin. That’s what redeemed means, to buy back a slave, to free a prisoner for ransom. Jesus’ body and blood literally set us free.

So we come back to freedom and time. We have time to be free. And having that time means we can be free.

Free to listen to the nudgings of the Spirit, free to praise and worship, free to pray, free to love, free to shine all for the glory of the Lord.

We have been set free and live in Christ and because of this we have to share the Good News, not have to like have to do the washing up but have to because we can’t possibly think of not doing.

 

Lectionary readings:

  • Jeremiah 31:7-14 & Psalm 147:12-20 (or Sirach 24:1-12 & WisSol 10:15-21)
  • Ephesians 1:3-14
  • John 1:(1-9), 10-18

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