Sermon 19 June 2016

Sermon for Sunday 19 June 2016, Westbourne Church

Trinity 4 2016 Pr 7    Isa 65:1-9    Gal 3:23-end    Luke 8:26:39

It’s make-your-mind-up time!  This time next week we will know the nations views on Europe. We will each have our feelings, ideas and, by now I expect, our intentions.  As Christian people we come up against the question of what is a Christian response?  The answer is of course varied as we would disagree on all manner of things as to how to achieve an end even if we agree on the end. What would life be without argument. The readings today fall handily by chance and may give us some tools to help the thinking.

The prophet Isaiah says little of use perhaps except to offer the words of God, “Here I am, here I am”. The challenge to us there is about whether we have taken the issue to God in prayer. Have we wrestled with the pros and cons in the light of our faith? To do so will take us immediately out of the context of our own advantages and disadvantages and into that of the world, or we might say the Kingdom of God. The categories become different. Through Isaiah God may be saying you did not consult me.

St. Paul, writing to the young Galatian church tries to answer what appear to be questions about different ways of being under God.  Some of these ways are clearly ethnically and economically based. Their faith in Christ though breaks all the boundaries.  There is no longer Jew or Greek or slave or free or male or female. 

History tells us that there is no such thing as a perfect political system however we do it some will be advantaged and some disadvantaged.  Not doing much about Evensong these days we don’t very often recite the rebellious and revolutionary words St. Luke puts into the mouth of Mary, the words she utters as she meets her relative Elizabeth and together wonder at the gravity of their respective pregnancies and vocations.  

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; •
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed; •
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him, •
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm •
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones •
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things •
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, •
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors, •
to Abraham and his children for ever.

The humble and meek, contrasted with the proud, we might see as a difference between  those who make their decisions based on the effect on others rather than themselves. If we decide on matters of economy, it is for all. If we decide on matters of citizenship, it is for all. 

I won’t try to deconstruct the moment of the Gerasene swine, though it would be fun to put the names of world movements or figures into the text. Suffice it to say that this is a moment where Jesus addresses a multifaceted problem.  ‘Legion’ it calls itself.  In the GNB the word is translated as ‘mob’ which seems a lot better. I listened to a radio programme a while ago about how the bible has influenced culture. It spoke of how nakedness had become for us a sign of rebellion and drawing away. It posed the question of whether wearing clothes was simply the sign of a sound mind which others looked for. I learned that it is not and never has been an offence to be naked in public. See you at coffee time. There is being clothed and being naked before others in ‘private space’ sense too.

To have an opinion of in or out is not to be of sound mind or otherwise but to have weighed the issues in the pan against the weights of what our faith is, of how those words of Mary can be fulfilled. We know we’ll have to pay for it all whatever happens. There’s never owt for nowt.

Let us pray using a prayer published for this week by the Church of England:

God of truth,
give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum
with honesty and openness.
Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion
and discernment to those who vote,
that our nation may prosper
and that with all the peoples of Europe
we may work for peace and the common good;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. truth,
give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum
with honesty and openness.
Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion
and discernment to those who vote,
that our nation may prosper
and that with all the peoples of Europe
we may work for peace and the common good;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


© Sermon 2016 Frank Wright, Prayers and lectionary material Church of England

 


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