Sermons from Rev Canon Dr Ian Davies
Sunday 23rd November
I do hope you all know that when I stand up here with my sermons I am not preaching at you.
By listening, you are actually accompanying me on my journey – I am simply passing on the things that the Lord has shown me as I attempt to make sense of a particular piece of scripture. Please know that we are all very much on this road together ........
So let’s share what I have felt the Lord telling me about the scripture we have heard today.
Over the past few weeks our gospel readings have been very much about the things we do and the way we live our lives.
There were the foolish bridesmaids who had become complacent and decided that there was no great rush .....
and were then too late for the wedding banquet.
Then there was the slave who decided to do nothing with the talent he had been given byhis master and, as a result, had it taken from him ..... and today we have the separation of the sheep from the goats.
All parables about facing judgement for our actions, for things we have done or not done.
Just before we begin our season of Advent when we look forward to celebrating the coming of the baby Jesus ...... we have this parable about Christ the King ...... the Son of Man in his glory, and all the angels with him as he sits on his throne in judgement ...... and it is a timely reminder that Advent is also about looking forward to the return of Christ in glory, when the Kingdom ofGod will come in all its fullness.
And all these parables are about being prepared or unprepared as the case may be.
Whether we are prepared or not begins, of course, with our decision to turn and follow Jesus - the unfashionable word is repent, which really does mean accepting that we have been separated from God by the way we live and choosing to say sorry and ask Jesus to put us right.
That brings us back into a right relationship with God, we, like Jesus, can now be called children of God.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Through Jesus, God has restored the whole world into a right relationship with him. Itis done and God has done it.
We cannot earn our salvation.
But that is our status, we are redeemed ...... NOW our nature has to be transformed into His likeness. We have to be recognisable as children of God by the fruit we bear.
How can we claim to be children of God, if we don’t reflect his love and compassion in our daily lives? When we meet Jesus face to face we want him to recognise us ....... not say ‘I don’t know you’.
We know how we should live, of course we do – Jesus’ life on earth gives us the blueprint and actually our Old Testament reading today makes very clear God’s intentions. ‘I will seek the lost, I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, I will strengthen the weak ...... and I will feed them with justice.’
But, for most of us, it’s a far cry from what we are capable of in our own strength. But God’s love for us is such that, if we allow him, he will begin to transform us. His Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see and our ears to hear and help us to listen for his still, small voice, and guide us and lead us in just the way that is right for us. It may be a very different way for me than it is for you and we must always be very careful to support each other in whichever way it is that we are being led.
But the important thing is that we can’t keep putting it off ........ we can’t keep telling ourselves that as long as we pay lip service to God it will be OK. We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent or to mistake respectability for faithfulness. We can’t keep making excuses that we’re too busy to spend time with him, too busy to talk to him, listen to him, to read the bible ..... or take steps to learn how .....
Relationships are so important in life and none as important as our relationship with God. He reated us and it took the agony of the cross of calvary for us to be restored into a relationship with Him. He’s done all He can. Should we not, therefore, seek to nurture the faith we have as much as we can and to strengthen this awesome relationship that he has blessed us with.
So, how do we begin ....... well in his letter to the Philippians Paul tells us to ‘Have this attitude in ourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
Jesus was obedient to his Father. How are we going to be transformed into the people God would have us be if we cling to our right to ourselves and insist on our relationship with hi being on our own terms? Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped – we are not God’s equal, we are his creation. It’s what He wants that is important – not what we want!
It isn’t and never will be easy ....... we will have to choose time and time again ‘God’s way or my way?’ There are bound to be wrong choices ...... but he loves us and he will forgive us time and time again. We need never think oh that’s it now, there’s no going back, he will never forgive me for that.
Always remember that other parable, the one about the son who treated his father in an appalling way but wasn’t even made to apologise, he simply turned back towards home and his father ran to meet him and welcomed him with open arms.
God knows us, he knows our faults and our weaknesses – even the ones we hide from everybody else – even the ones we hide from ourselves.
Yet he loves us. Astonishingly ,all he wants is our love in return. We can take heart from many of the leading characters who have served God – Abraham, Jacob, David, Moses ......... Peter and the Apostles – far from perfect but with one thing in common they loved God and followed him - made him the centre of their lives.
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight’ – Proverbs 3.
To bear witness to Christ as King is to be a messenger of his kingdom where no one is hungry, naked, sick, or alone. –It is to serve others and thereby profess the coming of God's glorious empire.
If we open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit he will show us a King who is not like the kings of this world. A King who brings real peace, who sees the needy, and who hears the cries of the oppressed.
We don’t know when he will return, so let’s be prepared, not like the characters in our recent parables, let’s use the time we have in choosing again and again, each day – each hour even, to allow God to make us the children we are meant to be so that when God’s Kingdom comes it will feel like home.
Let’s end by praying for ourselves the prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians: ‘we pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know him, so that, with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we may know what is thehope to which he has called us. Amen.