Welcome Guest  |  Register  |  Login
 

Sermon for 7 October

 
       

The start of James reminds me of the parable Jesus told of The Rich Fool... you may remember the story of the rich landowner who had so much corn he tore down his barns and bought bigger ones and then said to himself.. I've got so much now and I'm truly independent and in control of life I can relax and be happy.... but God said, you fool, tonight you're going to die so now what's going to happen to all this stuff... ??


The man wasn't in control of his life at all. He was deluded and he was getting his priorities all wrong. He was living outside of himself....If we fail to invest in the heart of who we are.. if we live on the outside of ourselves.. if we live in the context of power and status and the illusion that we are our own masters then we are in danger of losing ourselves because we were created in God's heart... our true selves are not in our possessions but in the heart of the Trinity... You see..........God is not so much as up there as in here...


When Jesus stands and knocks on the door of our hearts he has not gone up the path of our British styled houses and knocked on the front door... I think its more accurate to imagine the houses of Jesus time which had a central courtyard and interior doors going from the court yard into the house.. the heart of God is the central court yard and he's knocking from the central part of you.. he is not so much out there as in here.. deep in the heart of us... knocking to come in and eat with you but he's coming from the inner part of you... he's within you.... rich people, whether they are rich in money, health, education or anything that gives them a false sense of independence don't tend to open that inner door.. the handle turns easily in the hands of a vulnerable person.. vulnerability unlocks the door...


When Jesus asked the rich man to sell all he had he wasn't trying to help Oxfam out.. he was saying.. look you've obeyed all the commandments but actually you're addicted to ticking boxes..... you're addicted to independence and control... go and sell all you have and embrace vulnerability and you'll connect with God and life itself...


When Jesus told the story of The Richman and Lazarus he didn't give the rich man a name... So let's live carefully and not lose our name which is hidden in the heart of God, hidden in the central part of us.. our name and our identity are not in our possessions or our status...


When I was pregnant with my daughter and saw the scan it was like peeping into a God-made cathedral.. my daughter being secretly knitted together in the heart of God.. It is in that Cathedral that we find ourselves and our Creator God.. and the door into that deep space within us is vulnerablity...


I used to work at Kenward Trust.. it's a rehab. for drugs and alcohol in Yalding.. I worked there for 9 years and to be honest I used to groan inwardly when successful business men or drug adults and pimps came in because I knew they were used to having lots of money running through their fingers. I knew their addiction to money and power and status would be far more difficult to break than any addiction to illicit drugs or alcohol... the need to be in control and to drink self-value from their false sense of independence was intoxicating.. In fact, I don't remember any of them that got through to long term recovery...


Most of the men at Kenward had nothing.. they'd lost it all.. no money, no family, no status... and I'd say to them..you're lucky in a way because your addiction to drugs and alcohol is not acceptable to society and so they've sent you to rehab... In fact, most of us in the UK are addicts.. we're actually addicted to money...to being in control.. to being defined in the way we want to be defined...but that's all accepted in society so we don't get a chance to come to rehab. and discover who we truly are...


The men spent the first 6 weeks of their treatment preparing a confession.. they had to write 18 examples of where they'd damaged themselves and others through their addictive behaviour.. then they'd come and spend over an hour reading it out to all of us.. they were very vulnerable.. you are vulnerable when you are dying and they were dying to self and confessing all.. it was like sitting in a morgue.... there would be a deathly silence at the end and the other men would walk out quietly and we would stay sitting with the man in the silence... it was a time of real vulnerability for that man... and it opened a doorway to God... and to life.,, their dying to self led to their true self...


Without fail the next day that same man would come into the therapy room beaming with a sense of freedom and self-worth... our unconditional acceptance of him had reconnected him into humanity..many times these men bowed the knee to the Lord and we baptised them.... and the doorway into God's heart was their willingness to embrace vulnerability..


CS Lewis said, "Don't embrace Christianity if you want a comfortable religion..” to be honest vulnerability is rarely comfortable.. dying to self is never comfortable...but it is the dance of the universe..


We are made to self-give and self-empty.. it is the dance of the Trinity.... Father self-empties himself into Jesus through the Holy Spirit and Jesus self-empties into the Father through the Holy Spirit and they are one... how do we self-empty into Father and Son as a church? How do we become one with each other.. How do we stop grumbling against each other as James advises?... We need to meet each other... we really need to meet each other.,... not at the point of our behaviour but in the heart of one another.... which is also in the heart of God... we get off moral high ground and away from dualistic thinking.. we put down our need to be right and we meet each other in the heart of loving acceptance... we meet each other in the rhythm of the Trinity Dance which is a self-giving rhythm .. a dance where we'll embrace vulnerability because Jesus will challenge us to leap higher than we dare and leap further than we dare... …to give more than we would dream of giving...


It probably won't be comfortable.. but when we do that we will find a deep agreement with one another.. not just an agreement on issues.. but a deep agreement... a deep sense of unity... and our prayers will be answered and revival will come....


I belonged to a church some years ago where the leader would tell us that a member of our church was in debt through circumstances that had been thrown at him/her.. he'd say we need to raise this much money and we'd all do a whip round.. we'd do it every week until we'd freed that fellow Christian from debt... it was thrilling to help.. and it united us and prayer was, I think, more powerful in that church as a result..


St Mary's is a caring church but we can always go deeper.. we can always be more caringly curious about each other and ask...are you suffering?... are you sick? Are you cheerful?.. and then pray and actively support one another...


We need to be praying God-inspired-from the heart prayers which will be very different from our own priorities... Elijah prayed for drought not prosperity because he knew where real riches lie... we need to get into the heart of God and each other and pray in unity with the Holy Spirit...


Late one night after a very traumatic day, my 12 year old foster son said, "I was very, very frightened but now I'm ok because God said to me, 'Look, you'll be alright because I am on your side, Hilary is on your side and all the Christians in the whole, wide world are on your side...you'll be ok”, so I'm not frightened any more..'


It is in our vulnerability that we meet God and each other.. the cross is the way of the universe.. Jesus' choice to be vulnerable is the way to life.. the dying always comes first...then the living... we are all on the same side.. so, as Faye said a couple of weeks ago.. we need to lean into God …and we need to lean into each other… but it will expose us like the trees in winter...it won't be comfortable.


My foster son also said to me, one time, "Jesus, he was pretty good really wasn't he..? I mean he did well didn't he..? apart from that bit of vandalism he did at the temple he did alright didn't he?” The turning over the tables in the temple is a powerful image.. let's turn over the tables and move further away from being self serving and closer be being self giving.. it's an ongoing journey but .... I believe...


Autumn is here at St Mary's, this is our season for dying.. this is our season for letting go of the things we have become reliant on.. Autumn is here, winter will come when we die to self and practice vulnerability... the exposure is not going to be comfortable for us.. we will need courage to be vulnerable and open the inner door to each other and God... but after the winter, comes the spring...after dying to self comes life.. it really is good news..


Posted: 07-10-2018 at 17:26
What's New
Sermon for 14 October
Added: 14.10.2018
Semon for 30 September - Harvest
Added: 30.09.2018
Sermon for 23 September
Added: 23.09.2018
Sermon for 16 September
Added: 16.09.2018
Church Office & Vicar - 01580 211739   hugh.nelson@ymail.com