Sermon for 27th January by Rev Ellie Goldsmith

SERMON for Ladock  27.1.19

 

Nehemiah 8. 1-3, 5-6, 8-10    Psalm 19    1 Corinthians 12. 12 – 31a  Luke 4. 14 – 21

 

I took a funeral last week and the chosen reading was Psalm 139; and it contains these verses:

God, you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth

 

It reminded me of the verses in the second half of today’s Psalm, and you may wonder why:

The Psalms says:  

The law of the Lord is perfect

The statutes are trustworthy, the precepts are right, the commands are radiant, the reverence of the Lord is pure, the ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous.

7-8 God’s laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light. They are pure, eternal, just.   They never need to be changed.

 

God made us – we were woven and knit together - so that we function well and thrive, if we live by God’s laws, the way we were designed to do.

 

God’s people in the C5th BC were not thriving; they had just returned from exile in Persia and had lost their way. 

Deprived of their own country and customs, God’s law and worship had been neglected, despite prophets’ warnings. 

Now, on return, they had no king, no army, no empire. 

Their city and temple needed to be rebuilt, and their lives and nationhood needed to be rebuilt too. 

They had to renew their commitment to living God’s way.

It was time for a new beginning – to live as God intended and designed.

Ezra, a scribe from the priestly family of Aaron, read out the law to the assembled congregation.  And they wept – either tears of regret or tears of joy at being able to start again – probably both! 

Nehemiah, the governor, declared a Day of celebration which lasted 8 days!

And we read that their joy was very great.

 

In the Gospel we learn that in his home synagogue Jesus declared himself as the one who would call people to live by God’s laws, God’s Messiah.  In fact, Jesus quotes Isaiah, one of the prophets who spoke to the exiles.

 

The people listening to Jesus preaching that day were amazed and surprised.

But this amazement soon turned to anger when Jesus indicated that Gentiles, non-Jews, would be included in God’s way of living: they would be able to have a new beginning; God’s laws were designed for them too.  Everyone can thrive!

 

And this is true for us.  I wonder if you can recall a new beginning, the time you first chose to live by God’s laws, or perhaps a time you renewed that commitment. 

 

The truth is, to thrive, we need to listen attentively to what is written in Scripture; sometimes we need to gather together to do this; sometimes we need to be instructed on its meaning.  Always, we will have to choose between living our own way and living God’s way.

 

And what is God’s way of living?

In a nutshell, it is to love God and neighbour. 

Moses taught this, and so did Jesus.

When these two commandments are at the top of our agenda, we thrive and others will thrive; they will benefit – eternally – from the good news of forgiveness, and they will be blessed by the many acts of kindness from loving neighbours, relieving sad and difficult situations, sharing the hope of a new beginning, helping them thrive and not just survive, giving them cause for great joy and celebration.

 

As we live out the 2 Great Commandments, we continue Jesus’s mission.  Some of this we do individually, and some is a corporate responsibility that needs to be worked out together:

we look at the gifts we are given to do this, we may need to pray for other gifts; we encourage each other to commit to a healthy and fully functional Body of Christ, drinking in the Holy Spirit, as St Paul puts it, asking Him to lead us, to empower and gift us.

 

As we reach out in love, we remember that God’s ways are perfect. They make us wise, and give us joy and light. 

We thrive and we can help others to thrive too.

 

The big questions this morning are:

 

Am I thriving?

And

Am I helping the Body of Christ to be what it is designed to be?

 

 

 

 


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