Sunday, February 27, 2011

worst case Scenario ... don't worry

Matthew 6: 25-34

This sermon was preached at Holy Communion in St. Columba's at 10:30 on Sunday 27th Feb 2011

May my words and our hearts be always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

In our Gospel reading this morning we are called not to worry.

I wonder what you worry about? ... A few years ago I was given, by a friend a copy of The worst Case Scenario survival handbook for travel ... just before heading away by myself to Africa.

A look at the contents page alone is enough to worry a solo traveller

How to stop a car with no brakes
How to survive a riot
How to survive when you are lost in the jungle
How to climb out of a well
How to deal with a Trantula

My favorite which illustrates the stupidity of this book is

How to control a Runaway Camel ... in 5 easy steps

Hang on to the reins - but do not pull them back hard in an attempt to stop the camel
If the camel has a head halter and sturdy reins pull reins to one side to make camel run in circle
If the camel has nose reins - just hang on tight
Hold on untill the camel stops - the camel will sit down when it grows tired
When the camel sits - Jump off!

Worst case scenario - things we worry about. Perhaps you have never worried about how to control a camel but we do worry about lots of other things and unfortunaely there is no guide book about what to do in all circumstances we find ourselves in.

Perhaps we worry about our exams, or if we are a parent we worry about our Kids exams

Perhaps we worry about ourselves, our friends, our families health

Perhaps we worry as we look at TV News about our world

Perhaps we worry about the worries of our friends.

As we look at these or other worries and concerns that come to mind. Let us pause for a few moments, and realise that this is very, actually crucially important.

Elsewhere in the gospel there is a story of the Wise and Unwise builder

we all know that the wise man built his house on a rock with a firm foundation
the unwise man decided to go for the quick option and got the house up without much trouble.

However both faced storms one was much more worried than the other. Both I am sure were worried about the storm but the wise one knew that his foundation was sure and steady. The other didn’t

Our foundation is the thing that is so crucially important.

All of us at sometime or another are going to have to face trying or testing times - either ourselves, our loved ones, our friends. What foundation are we building to help us cope with the stresses and strains of life.

The Great News of today’s gospel is that on offer to all of us is the surest foundation for life

That which God provides - It allows us to say that individually we each are loved by God and called by him to live for him.

Yes each one of us are going to face trying times but how amazing, how awesome it is to know that God is with us - through medical tests, through operations, through therapy, through school, though university, every single day at work, every morning, every evening, every day we are awake, every night we are sleeping - God is with us.

Now what excites me even more than simply knowing God is there with us with me is that he provides

he provides our strength, our wisdom, our guidance, sustenance.

Whatever happens ... God is sovereign ... he working his purposes out.

How am I going to face x, y or z this week, this month ... whatever your worst case scenario is ... the solution I have found, from personal experience and from listening to the stories of countless christians in the past and present ... the only thing to do is to take it to God in Prayer ... hand it over to him ... to say God I can’t handle this but I am prepared to walk with you through it ... you are all I need

This is not complicated ... We are allowed to, we are called to be be honest with God and to allow him to speak truth into our lives.

Remember he is father & he wants us to know that he loves us.

Let us take a moment to be still and recollect the things which worry us this morning

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care
take it to the Lord in prayer

Heavenly father, each of us have our own concerns, worries. Help us to walk with you, to remember you are our father, you are the one who provides help us to see your perspective on our problems. We pray this in your name. Amen

Monday, February 21, 2011

Imitating God

A Sermon Preached in St. Columba's on Sunday 20th February 2011 at 7pm Service

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer.

This evening I would like to look briefly at our Episitle reading, from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians which you have in front of you.

The first word from this portion of the letter is “Therefore” and in college we were always advised to ask of the text when we see this particular word ... what is it there for!

in other words we need to ask what comes before it.

In our case this evening ... it is linking a description of new life in Christ - which has great advice for those who have become new members of the Ephesian Church.

There is just before this passage an imperitive to cast away the old nature, former things and to put on a new person created in God’s Likeness - righteous, holy and true.

Paul does not beat about the bush in this letter - he says in the last two verses of Chapter 4
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words as well as all times of malicious behaviour - instead be kind to won another, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you.”

We see in this passage in front of us we have to take this prior advice and get on with it

we are called to be imitators of God as beloved Children - I know when I was growing up one of the ways I learnt to do things was by copying my parents and grand parents.

Back in Banbridge, my grandparents had a big vegetable garden and grew all sorts of things - loads of people from our local area came to buy lettuce, beetroot and lots of the other veg in season. In that garden I learnt so much from dealing with people to planting carrots. but a lot of it was learnt by copying what my Grandad and Granny were doing. Using the same words, the same actions.

Children pick up so much from the adults around them, their words, actions and values.

We all are called to be imitators of God

This morning in our Gospel reading we were challenged by the words - Be Perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect - that is a huge ask for any of us. However this evening this is broken down into a little bit of an easier step.

We simply have to imitate God as children imitate their father.

So what does that look like?

A few years ago - there was a fad going around with young people who went to church - they would wear wee bracelets on these was the letters ... WWJD which stood for ... what would Jesus Do? - the idea is that when faced with any circumstance they would ask the question ... what would Jesus do if he found himself in my shoes today.

It is a challenging question to ask ourselves.
Each one of us here this evening will face decisions this week which will challenge us to think about right and wrong

Perhaps simple choices, perhaps life changing choices

We are all called, every single day to decide where we go and what we do, what our attitude is, what our reaction will be.

Should we forgive?, should we make allowances for sombody’s mistake?, should we go where we know that we shouldn’t go? ... what should we do?

We are called to cast off the darkness and instead be people who are open, who are loving, who are imitators of God.

The word Christian began as a derogitory word from the romans which means “Little Christ”

May we by our words and example imitate Christ by all that we think, say and do this coming week.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Be Perfect ...

A sermon preached in St. Columba's, Knock on Sunday 20th Feb 2011 at 10:30pm

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount presents us with huge challenges. Any quick glance through Chapter 5 of Matthew’s gospel highlights HUGE areas of life which we are called to be working on/

The beatitudes call us to be peacemakers, they also tell us that we will be persecuted

We are called to be salt and Light to the world

Keep the commandments

Not to get angry

Be reconciled with Brothers and Sisters

we are called Radical purity in terms of our thoughts and deeds, last week we had in our Gospel reading if your eye or hand causes you to sin ... which when we were discussing it on Wednesday evening at Bible Study proved to be quite horrific at the thought of such things - but basically that bit is about the causes of sin in each of our lives and removing that temptation from our lives.

We are called to Love our enemies

go the extra mile

Then at the end of today’s gospel reading we are called to Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect!

We are called to be perfect ... If I am honest this morning that bit of the reading I have struggled with all week ... what is Jesus saying/commanding?

Keeping the commandments... most of them are OK

Being reconciled with Brothers and Sisters ... yeah!

Purity of thoughts and deeds ... still working on that

Not getting angry ... most of the time that is OK ... but I know I loose my temper sometimes.

But being perfect... I am sooo far away from that it is unbelievable.

We need a way into this passage, we need to know that Jesus has hopes for his disciples, he has dreams for those who are listening, he is calling them to a radical life, a life which will change them, a way for them to see amazing things, a life which will see them do amazing things. A topsy turvy life which will turn their values on their head - the last first, the first last. A life which will call them to deny themselves, a life which will see them in the world but not of the world.

I am sure that there is not one of us here today meets the standard which Jesus sets out Be Perfect

Which is great, it is a great leveler - from the youngest here to the oldest, from teachers or students, rector or visitor, curate or choir member, vestry person ... who ever you are this morning.

We are in loads of ways we are messy - perhaps we do have immaulate houses or not, perhaps we are wealthy or not BUT under the surface we undoubtably have weaknesses we have messed up - all of us if we are honest are messy ... people who need to be made less messy

But the exciting thing is that whoever you are, whatever your role is we can all begin a journey, a journey with Jesus, finding out more about him, finding out more about ourselves.

As Disciples we are all called on a journey through life of sanctification ... of becoming more like Jesus, day by day.

yes we have and will mess up

yes we will do stupid things

yes we will say stupid things

The great news is that we can succeed at this, we can, if we let God change us do amazing things, we can strive to do better.

Three weeks ago the Rector looked part of the sermon on the mount as a kind of MOT for us, looking at things which could be better.

I wonder as we read through today’s reading is there anything we could pick up as things which could be improved upon?

perhaps in certain things we need to go the extra mile
perhaps in other things we need to discover love for those we do not like, or indeed love those who we actually hate the sight of.

A warning has to go out with all of these illustrations about our view of God.

He is not a policeman ready to catch us out, or a ticket warden ready to slap a ticket on us

but rather as heavenly father who has our best interests, who is willing us to do the right thing, who is ready to forgive when we get it wrong -as long as we learn from those mistakes and try better next time, he is ready to help us pick up the pieces and begin again.

We are all called to a radical lifestyle, showing our culture that there is much more to life than meets the eye, more purpose than simply making money, more love, more power, more adventure in a life dedicated to God.

The church, us, you and me are the hope for our nation, for our world - but we, each one of us has the power first to transform ourselves and then to transform our workplaces, community. This is the great news which we have contained in the pages of scripture but we need to be transformed ourselves.

But we do need to get rid of the mess ... offer the mess to God and get on with living life ... mess free


Less Messy!

This sermon was preached as a Kids Talk in St. Columba's - Sunday 20th at 9:30 Family communion

Father God we thank you that you call us all to serve you, help us to change to be like you in Jesus Name Amen.

In the curatage I have loads of books Big thick books, wee thin books, Books about God, the world, computers, and books of fiction.

Today I would love to tell you about a great character, one who is one of my all time favorite fictional hero’s ... Mr Messy ... this contains spoilers ... I hope you don’t mind

Mr Messy lives in a messy house

which has a messy Garden

but he is quite content with his messy life

Until he meets a couple of people

Mr Neat and Mr Tidy who are sorting out the garden of a neighbour

They offer Mr Messy their Services

Mr Messy reluctantly agrees

They tidy his house, his garden and basically show him that things can be different

Now the last thing that they do is sort Mr Messy out with a bath

and then Mr Messy at the end of the story laughs and says to Mr Neat and Mr Tidy that he shall have to change his name as he is no longer Messy.

Mr’s Neat and Tidy were able to show Mr Messy that there was a different way to live

When Mr Messy saw this he was able to try and live less messily

Turning from the Mr Men Story to the true story of Jesus

Throughout the Gospels, the Good News of Jesus

Jesus shows us ways in which we, who are messy, - all of us wether we are kids, young people, adults every single one of us

Remember we do wrong things, think wrong things or even when we don’t do what we should

But there is Good News we, like the story of Mr Messy, can change, when we look at God, when we try to be like him then we can indeed clean up our lives, when we get help from the Holy Spirit and from Christian Friends we can change and live lives which are more like him.

So the Challenge today is to ask ourselves ... where are the messy parts of my life? where are the parts I would l would like to do better at?

With these questions, and acting on the answers we can start to be more like Jesus!