Jan 1, 2017
Sorry I did not manage to podcast this week. here is the text of today's sermon. I had quite a bit of positive feedback so it must have been OK. Either that or "woe to you when all people speak well of you..."
Blurb for the sermon:
If you are lucky or blessed enough to be part of a good marriage you will probably feel as I do. You ask yourself “Where would I be without my husband/wife? What would I be like? How much less would I be if they had not joined in my life?” To illustrate this with the Children today I am going to tell the story from the musucal Wicked of Elphaba, a misfit dancing awkardly at a party having her dance transformed by Glinda a fellow party goer. Glinda leaves her “cool” friends and joins in with the misfits awquard dance turning it into something beautiful and graceful and drawing all the other dancers in too. This is what I believe God has done for us in Jesus. In truly becoming one of us he joind in our misfit lives and turned them into something wonderful and he calls all, everyone in heaven and earth together to join in this dance of life. Verse 17 of today’s Hebrews reading tells us that Jesus became like his brothers and sisters in every respect so that he might be a merciful and faithful high prest in the service of God in order that he might be the means by which we wre atoned/made one with/ drawn into a right relationship wuith God and each other.
Focus reading is Heb 2:10-18.
I am going to begin today’s sermon not by quoting the Bible or by quoting a great sage, or philosopher, or thinker or expert. I am instead going to quote the Beach Boys “God only knows what I’d be without you!” Pop singers quite often take the name of the Lord in vein but this is not the case with this song. Brian Wilson the main writer for the Beach Boys is singing about a relationship with a girl. Those of us fortunate enough to have good marriages will know what this song means. Where would we be without our wives or husbands? What would our lives be like? Would we be the same success? And it’s not just those of us who are married. If we have had good parents, a strong close supportive friend, an influencial grandmother or grandfather, a close cousin, brother, sister a mentoring or supporting aunt or uncle, minister, colleague or older friend we know what that question means. Think about those people for a moment... God only knows where we would be without them. Our lives would be very different. Perhaps they would have been cut short. Perhaps we would be poorer, financially but poorer in mind and heart too, poorer in our being. Unless these people had entered our lives, had shared them, had come along side us we would not be where or who we are today. We can not really tell. Only God knows where we would be without them. I believe that at the very heart of our faith is the Jesus who is described in the words of Hebrews. God has come alongside us, entered our life, not merely as a disembodied Spirit, or a divine spark within us but has entered into our humanity, as a flesh and blood human being. So human that like us God even dies! God can understand, get along side us, not just because God knows everything - all-knowing, but because God has experienced what it is to be one of us - with all its pain, struggle and temptation. The real miracle of Christmas is that God truly became one of us because that meant he had to share in our suffering and death. There are probably many individuals who have had such wonderful lives that they can look back and say the good things outweighed the bad - But 2/3 of the world lives in poverty. Many people live in situations of conflict and war. And even wealthy people can have lives filled with personal sickness, suffering and tragedy. And every singe one of us no matter how careful, no matter how fit and healthy will one day die, and before we do we will suffer the grief and loss of at least some friends, family, and those close and dear to us. In Hebrews we are told that, by choice God embraced suffering and even death - to truly become one of us. Verse 10 - speaks of his accepting our suffering v 14 speaks of him accepting death v 18 says "He himself was tested by what he suffered" Because of this you and I can share the hope of the Gospel - Jesus truly is one of us. 2000 years ago on the dusty streets of Galilee and the crowded lanes of Jerusalem. But he is also with us now by the Spirit in the quiet leafy suburbs of Toowoomba (or wherever it is you are now!)
If that was all that Hebrews has to say then that might be enough sometimes it is enough to know that someone else is with us and shares our pain. But this reading also has at least one other main ideas - first that in becoming one of us this is the sign that God includes us in his family and second that Jesus' sharing his life and death with us somehow brings us reconciliation, friendship with God, others and with a renewed creation. So on the one hand Jesus Shares with us what it is to be human, but on the other hand he also shares with us what it is to be in good relationship with God the one who Jesus revealed as a good and loving Parent, the one he called, Father, or Dad. Our reading told us that Jesus makes us holy - this is what verse 11 means when it says GNB 11 He purifies people from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure all have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his family. NRSV11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, As Verse 10 says (GNB) "Jesus is the one who leads us to salvation" NRSV "Pioneer of salvation" So when we are confronted by suffering in others and ourselves We can confidently proclaim the Gospel - Why - because in Jesus God became one of us and shares our sufferings. Second because Jesus is also the sign that we are included in his relationship with God and not only with God but with all who receive this relationship with God and so ultimately with the whole creation. What might this “proclaiming the Gospel” mean if it is true that God has come alongside us, travelled with us even unto death and been raised to new life for us? What does telling the Good News mean if it is true that
Jesus shares his relationship with the Father, and so with all God’s Children and even creation, with us? Well I think one thing that at least it could mean is that each of us should strive to be the kind of people for others of whom they would say “God only knows what I would do without you!” Be the mentor, the best husband, wife, neighbour, brother, sister, friend, that you can be. Seek to share your faith in word and by example. If someone is dancing awkwardly by themselves, dance with them. If you’re a good dancer and they are willing, they might learn from you. But if they don’t learn or you can’t dance either, dance with them anyway, so that they do not have to dance alone. And like Galinda in Wicked, you might even draw others in to join you! Mirror the new creation and God’s reconciling love in all that you are. Because we are imperfect, we won’t always get this right but that’s the point! We do this not because we want God to love us but because God already does. We do this not to be reconciled to God, but because in Jesus by the Spirit we aready are! Do this out of thanksgiving, out of gratitude, because without Jesus, our brother, God only knows where we’d be!