In some ways I don’t want to say very much this morning. Thank goodness for that you might be thinking! The reason why I don’t want to say too much is because I would like the readings to speak for themselves, and anyway those of you who were in church for Midnight Mass heard my sermon on today’s gospel reading.
But, what I do want to ask is simply this:
Do we, do you, accept the fundamental propositions revealed through today’s readings?
The first of these propositions is that we are involved in a greater story than anything we can create, strive for, insist on, or narrate. We are part of the Jesus story, the eternal story and, this is the very best of news, for our destiny, should we choose it to be, is to be with Jesus, now and for all eternity.
Yes, life for some of us, many of us, may be extraordinarily difficult at times but hang on to this one thought that gets to the very heart of Christianity: that ‘God was pleased to reconcile himself to all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.’ And, can I encourage you to take heart from the notion that God was ‘pleased;’ Our God is not mean-fisted, nor is he a tyrant, our God is the God who is ‘pleased,’ to invite each and every one of us into an eternal relationship. We enter into that relationship through faith; faith in Jesus. Christianity really is that simple.
And, we enter into this relationship as a people, as members of His body, the Church. This is where it get missionally challenging. If St Paul’s fundamental proposition is correct, and Jesus’ body on earth is the church, we need to ask ourselves, constantly, the question Bishop Steven has set before this diocese: ‘are we a Christ-like church?’
One of the things I would like you to go away and think about, and pray about, is simply this: do you, and we as a people, behave in a Christ-like manner?
God is invisible, Jesus has risen, but the Holy Spirit is alive, and if we are open, active. Are we open to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, individually and collectively. Let’s be clear we need to be so that we can be as ‘light’ in the world, and for the world. We are the Body of Christ and our mandate is to ‘testify to the light’: you, me, us.
So how do we get to this point? Well as I keep suggesting I know of only three ways: prayer, imaginative reading of Scripture and through participating in the sacraments of the church; baptism and Eucharist. If I could make one plea it would be simply this: don’t make praying and reading the bible a Sunday only thing, make it, instead, a daily thing. Through prayer and reading the bible our fascination with Jesus, and our relationship with God, matures and deepens and we change. And, as we change the world around us changes, always for the better.
I want to leave you with some words from Scripture that I read during my morning prayers this week. These words are taken from Paul’s first letter to his prodigy Timothy: ‘Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.’ If you, we, can live in the here and now, however challenging that is, but with a firm hold on the promise of eternal life then we will ‘testify to the light;’ which at the end of the day is the only real rationale for being the Church. Amen.