Sermon 19th July 2015

Trinity 7 2015 Pr 11  Ephesians 2:11-22  Mark 6:30-34,53-56

 “One new humanity in place of the two.” St. Paul writes about.  Just where is that division and that healing we might ask?  
 Many news pictures this week of varying and differing people from around the world.  Older News of irritations and conflicts which carry on at home and away.  News of human nature controlled and uncontrolled.  News closer to home of health and illhealth.  Difficult moments in our life together. It all takes some holding together.  But it is all part of the whole.
 To keep it all living together with even moderate success demands a lot of rules and regulations, law.  That law only keeps us going.  We have laws to protect children from adults out of control but as we have seen that can never be relied upon to be fully effective.  All it can do is try to re-balance the scales of justice, difficult though that is.  The law tells me that I may not punch you on the nose but it will not stop me from doing so if I lose control.
 The Jews of Jesus’ time had many laws, as they do today.  God had acted among them and many of them were responding to that.  They wore the badge of membership, at least the men did. There was, marked on the body a physical sign that they were Jews, a people under God.  Arguments arose about whether converts to the new Way, Christianity should be circumcised too.  St. Paul reminds them that this is just a physical thing and that dependence on physical signs harks back to the days when they were without Christ.  It is God’s action in Christ that will hold them together, fill them up.


Opening words of ‘Spoonface Steinberg’ – p 140

Spoonface makes the point that life is not complete without sadness
 “.... the saddest things fill you up - like in a big way and you feel so full as in no happiness can bring such - and all sadness is beautiful - as beautiful as the singing - as beautiful as the dying - and it would make a meaning.....”

There are degrees of sadness of course

There is the sadness of giving

 giving life - expectancy and childbirth have their sadnesses
 giving love - as the object of that love never quite understands the depth of           the gift
 giving alms - as we see our money going away and are worried where it is           going
 giving space - as some of our own is diminished

It is all these saddest things which fill us up

Later on we will wish each other peace and peace is about being filled up and sharing what fills us up. When asked by a lawyer what fills us up for ever - gives us eternal life, Jesus simply asked what the law required and it was a bit much for the enquirer.  The law demanded sadness, a giving away of that most precious commodity, love, that it might, “reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross.”  Both groups, any opposing side, be they Jew and Arab, Catholic and Protestant, the two sides of human nature, Christian and non-Christian, health and ill-health.
 What links the two is the Cross, standing proud on its hill holding together pain and hope, earth and heaven, grace and the criminal, God and humanity.  And there is the healing, that is what our factional national lives have to learn.

 The Apostles come back to Jesus tired and he leads them away for rest and to debrief but the crowds follow.  As long as there is work to do it must be done, it demands attention.  People had realized that the touch of Jesus was a healing touch and they would have it. There was no magic. They were looking for the assurance that not being ‘whole’ as their culture demanded they were still loved and accepted and sure of the reward of life with God for ever.
It is a task which he has handed on to us. Not simply in a formal way by asking for someone’s prayers as they offer themselves to you but by the simple ‘touching’ of the world by Christian people – not standing apart or aloof or at arm’s length or saying ‘not now I’m tired.’

 “One new humanity in place of the two.” “no longer strangers and aliens.”  It is challenging stuff as we look across the channel at the people who clamour for the freedom and prosperity we enjoy and are prepared to risk their lives for it. It is challenging as we try to understand people and ways different from ourselves. Especially when we discover that those different people described themselves in faith as Christian. We are set the task of bringing together what is ideal and what is practical and workable.

 The last words of Spoonface are,
“and that is all there is to know – that all of us will end up being one – and that is nothing – and that is endless.

 

© Frank Wright 2015

 

Spoonface Steinberg and other plays by Lee Hall

BBC Books

ISBN 0 563 38398 4


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