Sermon 22~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 2

“Blessed are the meek: For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: For they shall
obtain mercy.”

Matt. 5:5–7

Meekness and Majesty is one of the songs I love to sing, it is a song of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, God enters into our life – knows exactly what it is like to be human. Son of God becomes a vulnerable babe – knows exactly what it is like to be tempted. Meekness and Majesty, Jesus lived a humble life, a life of giving in time, energy and wisdom, a life of healing, preaching and teaching – that is the meekness – a life of quietness and gentleness, and then majesty… Jesus left his throne, but was still that Majesty whilst here on earth.

Are you still thirsty for Him? Do you still hunger to hear the word? Are you aiming (still) to be Christ like? Or is getting all a little bit weary? Is your worship a little flat? Prayers intermittent?

There is a new children’s online encyclopedia, run by Dorling Kindersley and went to have a looksee. I searched “Jesus” and got three hits, none would tell children about Jesus. So I put in “Holy Spirit” and got nine hits. If a child wanted to know about the holy spirit on this site they would learn about Native Americans, Diwahli, Egyptian mummification, cave paintings and Vikings. They can even learn about the surface of Mars but they don’t get to hear about the Holy Spirit.

To learn about Christ they would meet the Basilisk Lizard. Is something wrong with this picture? DK are a respected book brand, their children’s books are great with lots of pictures and interesting facts, they sell eight different Bibles for children so why can children not look up Bible people and events, why can they not learn about Noah and Abraham, Peter and Paul.

When did we get all a little bit weary, that this way of living is normal. When our children can be subject to every other concept of god except God. When did we stop hungering and thirsting to allow such wishy washy living be the normal?

When did you last show mercy? When were you last shown mercy? Love is not rash or hasty in judging. Love extends mercy and it is on this extending that some people meet Jesus for the first time. 96% of the world’s population recognise the  Coca Colalogo, how many have heard the Good News? In the UK only 25% of people believe in God or a supreme being which means that less than 25% believe in God. There are no statistics available for Ireland but it is likely it is less than it was last year and the year before that.

What are we willing to do about this? How can we show mercy and in doing so extend the invitation from Christ to all?

test3-scaled1000

Three poems…

Over the last three weeks I have been focusing on essays I must write without actually putting pen to paper. What happened instead was an outpouring of bad poetry on each of the three themes: all can be saved, Holy Communion and reviewing a book.

On Writing A Book Report

Clathrate of believers

                Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

 

Antrorse facing people

With outstretched arms to all

                Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

 

Adducent followers

Focusing on the Cross

Not an enclave or conclave

But a lacy network

That grows in the Spirit

All Can Be Saved – even you and me

God’s love is everlasting

His love is ever true

God’s love is just and perfect

Free to all of us

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

God’s grace is so unending

Fathomless and ever so deep

Undeserved favour waiting

For me and for you.

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

God’s mercy, oh God’s mercy

Gives all a real Hope

Of forgiveness to its fullest

Of life eternally.

 

God’s love is for all

Everyone including you

God’s love is for all

Everyone including me.

 

Meeting at the Table

Come, come

Come to the table

 

Come, come

Meet Him today

 

Come, come

Lay yourself bare

 

Come, come

Experience life

 

Come, come

Open your heart

 

Come, come

Accept the Lord in

 

Come, come

Blessed assurance

 

Come, come

Christ is the King

Sermon Thirty Eight Original sin

john                                                             audio clip

 

Wesley speaks a lot of sense about original sin. It is that which is in us that comes from our past life before we were transformed by Holy Spirit. So overwhelming is our human nature that sometimes our first thought comes from there and not of God.

It is like driving a car with a lean to the left, you are driving forward but in order to go straight you must adjust for the leaning. If you do not adjust you end up in a ditch. And that’s what happens to us. A family member struggled with pill addiction for some time and eventually kicked the habit. One day he was invited to a friend’s house, a friend from those pill days. If he had been adjusting his steering he would have said no, but he had forgotten and bang straight into the ditch. The “friend” made tea and lined up loads of pills and said “it’s your choice.” He sat staring at these brightly coloured jewels of mind control, then his friend got some coke out and arranged it in a beautiful clear white line and then he got his own drug paraphernalia out, a spoon, some tubing, a syringe and his delightful white-ish delight. Again he said “Your choice.” And my dear, dear friend and family member succumbed to his temptation and he is living in it now.

This sermon has one of the first words I did for http://thewritepractice.com/ Antediluvian. Now I know that when you get used to a word it becomes part of your vocabulary, but although it is a lovely word I prefer to say, ‘before the flood’

Before the flood God found that everyone was wicked. Their thoughts were evil all the time. Their inward spirit, their heart was rotten to the core. I have picked my two apples this year and one was sweet and lush and the other looked good on the outside but inside was black and brown all the way to the middle, the core.

We can lead, ostensibly ‘good’ lives but our core can be a putrid nuclear waste dump. Our outside conveying to the world someone who is righteous honest and true but on the inside, yuk.

We have to acknowledge, not just mental assent, but with our hearts that without God we are like the antediluvians, we are rotten to the core. When God opens our eyes to the stinky mess that are lives are, we realise we have been living in our own strength. We don’t know God. We may or may not have heard of him. I know there is president of the united states, I know his name, I have heard him speak but I don’t know him well. I don’t know him well enough to invite him to my house. But if I did I would get the troops in to clean the place, make it spotless. I don’t know him well enough to invite him into my home as it is today, with one warm room, broken heating system, dust piling up everywhere, a spillage in the kitchen, don’t even think about the bathroom and don’t go looking in any rooms. I know it is a tip, a mess, a putrid stinky hole. I don’t know Obama enough to invite him into that. When we don’t know God or with only mental assent – we are saying to him come and have tea but let me clean myself first. Do you see that – me   myself.

The Lord meets us in our putrid mess, he tells us it is a putrid mess and he gives us the tools needed to clean it up BUT he stays with us, rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck into the cleaning.

There was a historian, I so hate the experiments done to people in the name of science and this is further evidence that learned people do not consider proles to be as human as they. This historian arranged for two new born babies to be brought up in the wild by themselves to see if they developed language. They didn’t.

A child who is brought up without God in their lives will not know Him. Wesley states that to know God is not innately within us. We have to experience Him to know Him. We have to experience His love to know his love and even then we may be so full of the world we don’t notice it.

We separate God from our lives, He is there and we are here. If he had to go through what we are going through he would lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder too. We make it out that we are going through some awful thing that cannot possibly be described. But even if today we are sitting in a prison cell, being urinated on, being beaten whatever it is, we are never going to go through what Christ did.

He was blameless, perfect, without sin, he didn’t have this innate ability to veer off to the left. He had a mission, he came and saw out that mission living on earth as we do, he understood the human condition and then he died a horrific, tortured, naked, vulnerable death not for himself. He could’ve taken himself to the Father at anytime. He died so we might live. He died to atone for all our sins, he died so we might know the undeserved favour of the King, that we might know the incredible mercy and the endless pure love he has for us.

Jesus came to this world because of the Fall, and the fallen creatures – us. God knows us, knows us well, it is time for us to reciprocate, to spring clean our hearts and minds with him, because of him, only through him.

He came as a physician to heal, he meets us in our spiritual sickness and he ministers to us. He holds us in his loving arms and lets us breathe in his sweet, sweet perfume. He gives us strength to get rid of the sin in our lives. All the time, loving us to the utmost. He loves everyone, he wants for everyone to know him well. So we can invite him into our messy lives and sit with us.

Wesley concludes “Now go on further in your Christian life until your spiritual sickness is completely healed and you have the same mind Jesus had – Philippians  2:5

Amen

Sermon Thirty Christians must be law abiding

john                                     audio clip

This is weird to me because I remember that moment when the law that was binding me fell away. And yes as Wesley said, I behaved badly, but in doing that I realised to be lawless, unbound by the fetters of Almost Christianity, was not what was intended.

I was clearly shown two routes, one led to heaven, one to hell, one narrow, one wide. Once we are infused by the love of God, the law becomes part of it and it seems like no law because we desire to follow it, we follow it because it is written in our hearts and we can’t help but follow it. To turn away from the law and from God takes effort, physical effort to turn the head and be distracted by the world. If we are not focused on Christ that movement becomes easier, and that is why we see people drifting away ever so slowly rather than “right that is it I want to be a sinner in sinland now”

Wesley is having a theological argument at the time this is written to those called Antinomians in general and various church denominations down through the ages for example Mennonites. The argument is whether you believe you have been justified by faith alone and then can do anything or that you have been justified by faith and because of that you follow the law, I think.

To quell Mosaic law though is to quell the ten commandments among other things. One thing that fascinates me is how one verse is universally abolished and the next causes rifts in the fabric of many churches. In 2015 we shall see how our church fares. No doubt when that time comes I will write voluminously so I won’t here.

I suppose I look at the sermon and the arguments from the outside, this doesn’t really apply to me. Now there are very personal reasons why I ensure I follow the law innately, not least because I am called by the Holy Spirit to do so, because as a member of an established church with covering we are called to and because of this very tentative next step. I am not Pharisean  in my following, I have done that in the past when I didn’t call myself a Christian, I am not judgemental on those who cannot for whatever reason follow a particular law, I know my weaknesses and now I ensure I keep away from the distractions that lead me on to the wide road.

Wesley finally points to law of love as opposed to the law of fear. He is on middle ground between the “Law and nothing but the Law” and “Grace and nothing but Grace” Methodism often finds itself there, rationally sitting on the fence, others call it. Rather I call it, keeping the door open for all to come in.

Sermon Twenty Five On judgement

john                                                    audio clip

I am so glad that it was one of Wesley’s drier sermons that I read this morning. I can only imagine the puddle I would have become if it was one of his discourses on all-in-all Christians. I am in a state of being overwhelmed, I am hoping it will pass or I will have to put off something I am supposed to do on Sunday to another time, maybe never.

So when collywobbles attack a good dose of 18th Century dry writing is needed. I definitely think that this sermon was written at a time when Wesley was being criticised from all sides. It reads more like a defence than teaching. In other sermons he has explained why the use of certain things would have been important to the Jews but here there is no mention of the importance of “dogs” or “pigs.” He suggests that this part of the sermon is directed at non-Christians chiefly which I do not concur with.

Why?

Non-Christians believe us to be the most judgemental people, and we as church body have to accept this criticism. In Wesley’s time and in ours people on the outside looking in say things like “That’s not very Christian, or, that’s not how a Christian should behave” and yet in our churches we judge. One woman puts on her very best clothes and looks so stylish and yet is very poor causing another to cast aspersions on her poverty. Because churches have all kinds of people in them, seekers, almost and all-in-all there is judgement.

Instead of getting our lives in order and taking the log out of our eye, we look around and think “Well I am doing okay compared to…”

Shame on us, we primarily should be focused on our individual walk with the Lord not getting distracted by this one or that. Our hearts must remain soft, beating to the God’s rhythm and we cannot do that by looking left and right at our sisters and brothers. Now even if we ourselves do not judge we have to take corporate responsibility for all our church family. We should be showing people how not to judge without indulging people.

The reason I don’t judge is because I have seen the face of human judgement against me and it was not pretty. It was horrific. It is the reason I find it so hard to share my testimony locally. Maybe that is why the collywobbles have started, because I must give an account of it next week – only two minutes followed by three on something else. What to leave out, what to keep in? Will I just walk away so they don’t have the opportunity to judge me.

To keep from judging we must cherish the gospel, the gospel message is the “pearl” in the parable. Do not waste time arguing with atheist debaters as they will twist your words against you. Instead show them Christianity by the way you live your life. Pray for them, and pray for yourself.

Love those people because you love God and he loves you and them. Be compassionate with them, they don’t know yet the glorious saving grace of the Lord. Be kind, they think of justice in terms of a weighing scales, not understanding God’s mercy on which we cast ourselves.

Believe me there will be buckets of prayer in this house, this day.