Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Salt and Light to the community - Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Homily

Homily Preached at The Church of The Immaculate Conception - Blarney on Tuesday 19th January

Texts 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NRSV)
Matthew 5:1-16 (NRSV)

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

I would like to thank Fr. Bill for his welcome and his invitation to give this Homily. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an important part of the Church calendar as it reminds us that we’re not alone in the mission which Christ himself gave his 12 Apostles. It reminds us and challenges us that the body of the church is broken in all sorts of ways but this service is a service which reminds us that unity in the midst of our diversity is possible. 
That the things which we hold in common are great. 
As somebody who works extremely closely in this community with both Fr Bill & Anthony and value greatly their friendship and ministry I am extremely thankful to God for the strong bonds of friends that exist across our community.  The weekly Bible Study,Toddlers,  Community Alpha Courses, Messy Church, Community Carols, Holiday Clubs, Family Fun Mornings which are run - are team work between members of both churches - this is, as far as I'm aware a unique place for this type of work and I’m so thankful to God for all that he his doing in this place. 
Pope Francis wrote the following in a letter last summer:

We know that the visible unity of the Church is the work and gift of the Holy Spirit, who will bring it about in His time. Meanwhile, any effort we make in favour of the unity of Christians is necessary and urgent. The world need to know Jesus. We must proclaim Him without any pause, together. The division among Christians is the fruit of our sin and it is a scandal and our greatest impediment for the mission for which the Lord has called us: announcing the Good News of the Gospel. 

Today, the blood of the many Christians slaughtered in diverse parts of the world cries to heaven. The one that persecutes does not make a mistake, he does;t ask if they are Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox… they are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, and that is enough. The blood challenges us: Do we have the right to make our divisions a priority while the blood of our brothers is shed for the testimony of Jesus Christ?  …
… We know very well what divides us , let us be strengthened more in what unites us: the common faith in Jesus Christ as the only Lord and saviour,  the Word of God and Baptism 

Our Gospel text takes us to the feet of Jesus, on a mountain side 2,000 years ago but the words are as contemporary as they are historic - they are as applicable for Blarney as they were for Bethany 
They are reminders as to what God values:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who search for righteousness, are merciful, pure, peacemakers, persecuted 
For those who the world looks down upon - God lifts up as examples 

and then Jesus goes on to state to the crowd gathered before him 
You are the salt of the Earth, you are the light of the world … it cant be hidden 
I wonder in what ways  can you and I be salt and be light in the places where we find ourselves? 

In our workplaces, in our homes, in the supermarket, in the pub - wherever we are … how do we bring light into the situations we find ourselves in. 
The challenge in our culture in our culture is plain to see - it is how do we adequately talk about faith, live out our faith day by day in a world that is increasingly questioning and doubting, in a world and a culture which is changing the old norms which generations past have taken for granted - surely we are told this in our readings today ... our identity is in Christ our Lord 
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Fundamental to who we are as Christians is the Love that Christ showed upon the cross and the love that we are to share with one another. 

Unfortunately, in our land and across the world when church is mentioned - the words love and mercy, grace and peace are far from so many peoples lips - no matter what the denomination, no matter what the conversation is about. 

But that is our challenge - our challenge is to spread the gospel to those who are outside, to those who are struggling with faith to those who are lacking hope, to those who are questioning. You and I are called to be light and salt to a hurting and confused world. 

Our challenge is to dig into his word - to find the hope in that word and to effectively speak and act that word in our lives. Humbling serving, ready to articulate our hope whenever and wherever we can. 

Last Tuesday … in Growth Group we’re looking at Fruitfulness on the front line and explore some big theme of How we can be salt and light on our frontlines… where we are day and daily …these themes are helpful to think about where we are… 

Modelling Godly Character
Making Good Work 
Minstering Grace and Love
Moulding Culture
Being a Mouthpiece for Truth and Justice
Messenger of the Gospel

All of these ideas are ways in which we can individually but we’re called to do these things whoever we are. 

This is not simply theory … this is what we’re to be about - salt is effective, light is effective … lets get on and do! The world is depending upon us. 
Our community is depending upon the church to speak out and show what life in all its fulness looks like - too many people are lacking hope and direction - its the job of each one of us to be that salt and light. 

Jesus didn’t say this secretly to the 12 disciples this was public, this was to every single person - EVERYONE 

YOU ARE SALT AND LIGHT in your everyday … 

as salt is effective, as light scatters the darkness 

Let’s through the power of the Holy Spirit - allow God to Change us and then go and change the world … beginning with where we are … right here … right now! 

And he might change the ends of the earth! :-) 

In a moment we’re going to give you a reminder to be salt … we have a sachet of salt and a tea light candle which we’ll light reminding us all that salt and light are effect … yes their small but effective! 

I notice that the salt is the brand GEM 

I wonder as we take these away ... could we remember that 

God Empowers Me to get on with mission 

Let's Pray ...