Today’s sermon, following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris and the attacks in Baghdad & Beirut. As ever it was written to be preached rather than read!
When the unspeakable tragedies that are occurring almost every day around the world are brought particularly into focus, due to proximity or magnitude or the bias of the western media, or a combination of all these things, we can often be at a loss as to how to react, how to deal with them.
The all pervasive nature of our news & social media, whether it’s radio, internet, papers brings it to our attention,
The speed of global communications, the ability of bystanders and eyewitnesses to communicate in the moment with the world gives us unprecedented amounts of information, opinion, emotion.
We are required to have ever more sophisticated discernment between truth and propaganda, bias, motive and fact. It can be hard to cope with, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too
Today our hearts and our prayers go out to the people of Paris, our neighbours,
Prayers for the bereaved, the traumatised, the frightened, the injured,
Prayers for the leaders, the politicians, the priests, the imams
And prayers for the watching world, trying to make sense of it all
And we pray too for those in Beirut,
And those in Baghdad who died even as they mourned
For Japanese and Mexicans in the aftermath of earthquakes
We remember that all life is valued and all loss of life is tragic.
Jesus said “there will be wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed, this must take place” he talked about earthquakes, and famines., about grief and sorrow.
Throughout all of history there have been wars and rumours of wars, there has never been a time in human history when there were not wars and atrocities, nations rising against nations, tribe against tribe
For this is the world in which we live,
A broken, sin soaked word, damaged and fractured by our selfish behaviour, the outworking of the little seeds of anger and resentment that we all know we carry, and only by God’s grace can we overcome; stunt and weed out.
The time in which we live, in which humanity has lived for hundreds if not thousands of years is in many ways a liminal time, a time of endings and beginnings, a between time, the now and not yet.
God has promised to build his Kingdom;
Jesus came, God made flesh to live among us,
He said “the Kingdom is near”
We glimpse the glory in him, we glimpse the hope and possibiliagoty in each other, reflecting the image of God, his life in us which we share with those around us.
But we know too that the Kingdom is far away,
That our broken world feels so very far from being the Kingdom of justice and peace that Jesus spoke of.
These weeks before Advent are known in the church calendar as Kingdom Season
We live in that space of now and not yet, we’re waiting for the waiting, …
But we are reminded that we are called to build the Kingdom, with God,
To live the hope, the justice and the peace,
To commit ourselves to be glimmers of light in a dark world, as Jesus is The Light
We are called to speak out, to stand up for the weak and the oppressed, to champion peace and forgiveness, reconciliation not revenge
To live our lives in the upside down, tospy turvey values of the Kingdom of God, sharing the life of God in us with those around us. And what is the life of God?
It is love, it is forgiveness, it is transformation.
We hold the flame of hope in us.
The world is perhaps no darker today than it was 100 years ago in the midst of the Great War, or over 200 years during the French Revolution.
Those living by the sword or the bullet do so in the same ways as the Franks and the Vikings and the Picts did,
And the Church of Christ is called today, as then to live in the light, the Light that shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
That is as true today as it was in the first century.
As we wait for the coming of the Kingdom our waiting is not passive but active, we know that the light will come, and we live now in that light, working against division and anger, against prejudice and selfishness, working for justice, for peace, sharing the life of God, the Good news of Jesus with our world.
Open to the Holy spirit to transform us, to shine the light of Christ on our lives, to live in that light and to know its hope.
We are called to live and proclaim our ultimate hope, the ultimate hope for our world, the coming of God’s Kingdom in Jesus,
– now and not yet,
But let it begin in us.