Sermon 2nd August, 2015

Trinity 9 2015 Pr 13                                                      2Sam 11:26-12:13a Eph 4:1-16 John 6:24-35

Someone asked me last week why we had read the passage from the 2nd book of Samuel about King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba and David’s subsequent arrangement for her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle, making it look like a battle casualty. I think it had to do with the contrast between Uriah’s empathy and concern for the Ark of the Covenant which should have been safely replaced in the temple and of the men who had to camp out in the fields.  He would not go to his home for any comfort while King David was thinking only of his own comfort.  It is a moral tale.

This week the story continues.  The prophet Nathan tells David a story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man is being very harsh on a poor man whose only resource for life was one lamb.  It was not so much that it had become a pet but that well looked after it would become productive and help to lift the poverty of the family. It’s a strategy employed in the world today. Not so subtly, Nathan is saying, this is you. He reminds David of his own fortune, the gift of God given to him to allow him to reign over the people.  You done wrong, Nathan says, in the treatment of Uriah. It is a moral tale.

Today we put that alongside the words of St. Paul to the church in Ephesus. He exhorts them to be worthy of their calling, bearing with one another in love. Then to St. John who records the moments subsequent to the feeding of the 5,000. Fed, the people are satisfied but he reminds them that there is more to life than a full belly.

It is a complex message for a complex world and one not half as complex as the one we live in today. Just this week we have seen the fall from grace of one trusted with the process of government and it is a not so uncommon story. Politics and economics and faith and religion are tangled together, sometimes creatively but so often heavily destructively.

Fast-forwarding to the year nought, in Bethlehem, the home town of King David and a child is born in awkward circumstances and identified as the one whom God has sent to restore relations. Come Christmas we will forget what we are reading just now and the tradition Jesus comes out of. The NT traces his family line through Joseph to David. It is not an untarnished pedigree.  A moral tale becomes a tale of faith.

There is an old story about a bishop invited to preach at the patronal festival of All Saints church somewhere.  He looks round and says, ‘If this is All Saints, where is all sinners?’  In front of him of course.  Sometimes people remark to me that they are not good enough to come to church. My reply is usually that I am not good enough to stay away. The saints are the sinners who kept on trying.

The belief that God sent a ‘Saviour’ in the shape of the enfleshment of a long hoped for and expected son through the agency of a human family is at the heart of what it is to be Christian.  God comes to us in all the likelihoods of our failures and infidelities.  The solidness of the bread offered to us offers us the solidness of healing relation, the restoration of life as in the mind of the creator. It is a humbling tale of the creator who does not step aside to crush the predating insect.

It leads us to believe that nothing can separate us from or nothing prevent us from being close to God. Whatever our personal history it is embraced by the maker’s son as his own. This where our hope for the world can be.  Politics will not do it. The wounds torn by those who think they have it right are made by their trust in that rightness. The claim of culture over culture ignores the cultural heritage recorded in the great book. Which we might read not only to learn about God but the human condition of which we are part. When we hear the cry, ‘God is great.’ The right response is to echo it and add, ‘Alleluia! Christ is risen.’ For come Easter Day the message of Christmas and the saints matures and becomes eternal. The world has tried to wreak its vengeance and claim the territory but has failed.

‘Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’  Those who are hungry and thirsty today are the teachers of the developed world.

 

Frank Wright

© 2015


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