Sermon for 5th August 2018 by Rev Ellen Goldsmith

Sermon for 5th August 2018      Ladock

 

Ps 78: 23-29;  Ex. 16: 2-4, 9-15                         Eph.4:1-16              John 6:24-35

 

Last week we were thinking particularly about allowing more of God’s power to work in and through us – to do immeasurably, abundantly, more than we can ask or even imagine.

We concluded that for this to happen, we need to co-operate with what God wants to do.

 

In the 4th Chapter of his writings to the Ephesian Christians, Paul adds that part of our co-operation is to receive the gifts God gives to build up his church and extend his kingdom.

Gifts to “prepare God’s people for works of service” -

Jesus mission is not a spectator sport

I wonder if you know what your gift in this is ….

Like a muscle, if we are not using our gifts they wither and become ineffective.

 

There is something that becomes an important part of cooperating:  and that is behaviour - how to live a life worthy of the calling we have received that St. Paul writes about in Eph. Ch. 4.

Some behaviour blocks God’s power, and other behaviour allows the free flow of his life and power through us and out to others.

The characteristics Paul specifically mentions are:

Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another – putting up with them, love, unity and peace.

I don’t know how you would measure yourself on a scale of 1-10 for each of these! 

Do a bit of quick mental arithmetic: Humility, gentleness; patience, bearing with one another, love, unity and peace …..

Total marks 70!  Anyone score that?

The standard is high:  measured by, none less than, the perfect maturity of Jesus himself.

If someone tells you that all Christians are hypocrites because they score so low, you could say:  Yes, true, but be patient with us; God hasn’t finished with us yet!

 

So take comfort!  Paul writes about growing to this high standard.

And how do we grow as disciples?       Lots of ways!  Including in particular:

Being intentional:  “make every effort” Paul writes – it won’t just happen; go for growth, don’t settle for less.  Discipleship isn’t an optional extra!

And, second, feeding well: 

Growth needs food.

The Hebrews knew this only too well as Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt.  As they made their way through the wilderness towards the Promised Land, God provided food and drink.  Manna became their daily bread.

They had strength for the journey right to the end.

 

So, too, we need strength for our life journey, to be purposeful and persevering.  We need to grow – to grow up - to carry out God’s work.

Interestingly, Jesus describes God’s work as belief – not just a random yes to the question, ‘Do you believe in God? 

But believing in Jesus as coming from God – our Saviour, sent to carry out God’s plan of salvation.

Once we have made that our fixed point, our point of reference, the rest follows – we follow Jesus in mission and ministry.  The leader takes first place, we follow his instructions and his example, cooperating with him, growing more like Him in behaviour and action.

 

Someone once said a good disciple follows so closely that he or she is covered in the dust from the leader’s sandals.

 

Jesus’s mission is not a spectator sport!  God gives gifts to all

gifts to “prepare God’s people for works of service”, v.12 

Like our muscles, if we are not using our gifts they wither and become ineffective.  And it spoils the Body of Christ.

 

Good food is needed for working and growing and exercising our muscles.  Jesus says He is this food

The Bread of Life itself:  He nourishes, strengthens, fills, and enlivens us; he is enough – all that we ever need.

No need to go rushing around for bread that spoils and doesn’t last or satisfy.

Panis Angelicus, Bread of Heaven is what He gives.

It is Bread that is broken, a stark reminder where Jesus’ journey led Him.

The cross reminds us of God’s plan of salvation:  Jesus would die on our behalf, and share his resurrection with us. That’s why we hold onto the cross, that’s where our very deepest needs are satisfied – we are forgiven and loved, full life now and for all eternity. This is our fixed point.

 

How deeply Holy Communion brings all of this to us: 

bread, and wine, become a part of us; they work their mysterious effects on us for the coming days, and for always.  Taking and eating says, ‘Yes, Lord I believe; please work in and through me to help me grow, and to feed a hungry world now and evermore’.

 

Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; they will be filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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