Sermon 25~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 5

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For verily I say unto you: That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 6:1–15.

I was struggling with one of the commandments, it caused me to walk away from church as a teenager and when I returned it was still there: Front and centre. Joining a Bible study didn’t help, we were studying the Sermon on the Mount and so I heard what fulfilling the Law by Jesus meant and that it wasn’t about following the letter of the Law but following the explicit and implicit nature of the Law. So not only the act, but the first iota of an inkling of the act.

I spoke to one of our Local Preachers about it and they said and I quote:

“oh don’t worry about them that is why we have the New Testament we don’t have to worry about the Old Testament at all.”

Now young as I was in my faith walk this didn’t make sense, firstly if we weren’t to worry about the Old Testament then why was it still attached to the New physically in our bibles. Secondly we hear Jesus himself saying

“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

The LP in question were themselves living a precarious life – preaching without call and preaching when preaching itself was contrary to their beliefs, but I found this out later.

But it raised queries for me and sent me on a journey of discovery of how to ‘without a shadow of doubt’ be following the ten commandments, I left the 613 other laws alone as I am partial to a fried prawn curry and my friends were not abominations.

Two things I discovered in my journey and these are vital for spiritual growth:

1. you have to ask, not just of God but of godly men and women whom you trust and listen to their replies with discernment. The wisest of the wise of humans can get it wrong sometimes too.

2. this is not a solitary journey, people walk alongside, some for a season, some for a season or two but all who walk have their own backstory and motivations.

Jesus did not land on this earth so we can read his words and go – “oh that’s nice.” No he came to change the world, change history, change us, individually – you and me.

March 2014 a vid was shown in church, to show a model of mission and specifically shown to me to raise questions about where is the mission field. Like the questions weren’t there already. A few years ago I had the privilege of viewing and touching some of the modern art held by the Methodist Church in Britain. Yes I did say touch, I couldn’t help it, it was so tactile it drew me in and I touched.

It wasn’t the Diwali madonna or the graphic depictions of the death of Christ, it wasn’t five and chips on the mountain. It was “Cross over the city,” a mixed media (Polyester, brass and mosaic, relief panel) conceptual depiction of The Cross over a city. For me it spoke missionally of housing estates where God is not known. No Pharisees live there and the law is that of the concrete jungle – the hierarchical nature of crime- controlled by the older but carried out be the very young. How do we reach those children, whose light quickly fades and is not present from the age of eight? How can hope be found for those that see life as endless drudge of pain and painkillers? Where the rite of passage into adulthood is not a ritual of confirmation into a church but a gang rape for her and needle for him and where that ritual takes place in ever lowering ages. What age will it stop?

These people do not know the commandments, do not know anything about the Lord and his saving grace, do not know anything about right from wrong. I call them people because children are humans too. How can they even hope to have the righteousness of a Pharisee with no knowledge of the Lord?

And where are we? Tucked up safely in our homes, barricaded in – lest they take out. Where we have no concept of how others live. Someone told me once that everyone has a choice. But not if they are living without choices – where children are groomed to accept whatever is thrown at them.

Jesus came for all of us, not just the twin set and pearls and suited ones, but the raggedy ones, the ones like me and you.

I may have openly struggled with one of the ten, but I was struggling for more secretly with others but until I sorted the open one I was held in grace until such a time was right, timing is everything with the Lord.

Sermon 24~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 4

“Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matt. 5:13–16

God loves a pure heart more than all the outward ritual, so Wesley notes that many philosophers and theologians have over the centuries suggested that a solitary worship of the Lord was preferable to corporate worship. Wesley was a proponent of social religion so he does not concur with the hermit in a cave model.

However he does allow that there is a time for personal devotion and prayer, but there is a necessity to come together not only to do “church” but for the fruit of the Spirit to be seen in the way we do “good works.” How can we share the Good News if we sit on a mountaintop in solitary confinement.

To be in solitary worship, to spend our lives away from people means that our light cannot shine and we are called to shine not hide away. Wesley talks of not only of keeping together and talking only to godly men and women but that we are to converse with all kinds of people – even those we would rather airbrush out. And if we stay away from the world how can we be the salt. How can we challenge wishy washiness? How can we challenge our lawmakers and breakers? How can we challenge wrong thinking or behaviour? … if we are not beside or in front of those people and how can others season our lives and help keep us on track.

Father God, keep us meek, keep us humble, keep us loving & giving, patient & kind. Show us Lord where to go, who to link with, help us Lord see the needs in our communities and give us the courage to step up and out to share the gospel with all we encounter. We say this in the Name of Jesus, our Saviour, Amen

salt-and-light

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

Sermon 21~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 1

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: And  when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: For they shall be comforted.”

Matt. 5:1–4

poor in spirit

This is the first of thirteen discourses on the Sermon on the Mount, I am sure Wesley preached on it more than that because this is the crux of the social justice & holiness threads of Methodism.

This is the Methodism I experienced as a child, the love of God expressed not only in church but in the way the Northern women in two-up, two-downs lived and loved with each other. Eileen was sick, her fifth child was under two, her eldest causing chaos around the village at seventeen, her world was falling apart, her travelling salesman husband was beginning to see the lodger’s eyes in the fourth and fifth children. The lodger seemed more at home there than the husband. There were bruises and much walking into doors. The women of the street took over. The children were sheltered in neighbouring houses, the lodger moved in down the road and Eileen and her husband were given time to themselves and with the local Minister. The result some months later was an amicable separation and two years later Eileen married the lodger who adopted all the children and began helping the oldest rehabilitate after borstal and prison. The women met Eileen and her family not full of false piety, they met them in love, and there was accountability and consequences but most of all was LOVE.

Wesley talks of the poor in spirit not in earthly terms of poverty but as humble people who know they have sinned, know they have fallen short and cannot do anything in themselves to gain righteousness. The humble who fall at the foot of Cross knowing there is nothing they can DO to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and lay themselves naked before the Lord confessing their sin, repenting of their sin and receiving forgiveness (which they did not deserve) and stand with a slate wiped clean.

Still sound hoity toity! Let’s make it personal. I is a good word to start with. I fell at the foot of the Cross, I lay all my sins before Him, I confessed over many days my sins, I repented of them and I received forgiveness and I accepted that I had been forgiven and I can stand with a slate wiped clean. Christ in dying on the Cross atoned for MY sin, for my sin that was, is and still to come. He atoned for all our sin. Because it was needed, there was nothing we could do to get back the relationship that Abraham and Moses and the prophets had with God. There was a gaping hole, and there was nothing anyone could DO to bridge it – except… God himself came down to earth, where he lived as a man, he was fully a man whilst being fully divine, he taught and preached, he healed, he met people in dire circumstances – he touched a leper, he came to fulfil the Law, and we – humanity tortured, battered and bruised him, we laughed and scoffed at him and we drove nails through his body and hung him on a tree. But in dying on that Cross, making it look like the world and the devil had won. He snatched victory, the veil was torn and he died to atone for our sin. When he rose again and stayed in resurrected form for some time he continued to walk with his disciples a small while before ascending to heaven. Mission accomplished. Relationship restored, there was now a way for us into the Kingdom of Heaven, the door stays open for us – all we have to do is turn to him, turn to Christ and begin that process of life ever after which starts with a humble heart and one word SORRY.

Sermon Twenty Eight The Two builders

john                                  audio clip

 

Wesley spends little time pointing out those whose inwards worship was contrary to their outward ostentatious worship,  who fully expect to be in heaven but don’t arrive. He is particularly pointed at clergy who may have brought souls to Christ but themselves are not there. So he is basically talking about those under the Law who do not know the saving grace of Christ, who are not basking in the glow of his love. He himself spent many years preaching before he was saved so he has that experience. The inward assent to the Lordship of Christ, when we give our hearts, minds and bodies and souls to the Lord, that faith, belief, confidence in and assurance that grows from a mustard seed into a mighty tree with roots of faith firmly planted on the rock, Christ.

Motivation – what is your motive for doing good works, why do you feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Preach the “good news?” For your glory? Or is all glory quite rightly directed to the Lord?

Jesus is the firm foundation on which we build our faith. That faith that itself was a gift from God. Church, the church, the guy in the pulpit or woman for that matter, they are not the foundation on which to plant your feet. Innocence from sin, piety, good works alone, are all false foundations that lead us to the broad road to everlasting damnation!

Gosh a cheery sermon this innit!

Repent of your sins, love the Lord your God with everything you have (inwardly and outwardly) love each and every human on this planet because God loves them and because he wants us to share the love he has given us.

Our religion, our motivation, our enduring convictions whatever way you want to think of that is of the heart. The fruit of Spirit springing forth from our hearts into our thoughts, words and actions. Be mild, be humble, be patient, be loving, be gentle, exert self control etc.

Sinking sand is not a good place, the dank darkness of the pit is not a good place, the good place is accepting Jesus as your Saviour and Lord and letting him rule in your life. There is a beautiful place, a wonderful peaceful place near to you, go visit, stay awhile, stay some more then stay in that beautiful place that gives you joy and is pleasing to the Lord. Be a living sacrifice to the Lord because you have been washed clean in his blood. Without the Lord nothing is possible, with him nothing is impossible!

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord