Sermon for October 7th 2018 by Rev Ellen Goldsmith

October 7th 2018 Trinity 19  Ladock

OT: Genesis 2.18-24            
Psalm 8
NT: Hebrews 1.1-4; 2.5-12
Gospel: Mark 10.2-16 

 

Well, I wonder what you make of today’s readings, particularly the Gospel.

Divorce, I think I can safely say, affects all of us here in one way or other.

As Priests in the Church of England, we are given the privilege to conduct marriage services, and the freedom to choose in the case of marrying divorcees.

As you may know, I usually choose this option, and rejoice in couples’ intentions to be given a new opportunity to enjoy the benefits of marriage.

 

When Jesus was challenged about his view on divorce, the Pharisees were wondering what side of the argument he would come down on:  the strict or liberal interpretation of their Law – i.e., divorce with no re-marriage, or remarriage permitted.

But typical of Jesus, he takes a different approach altogether!

He goes back to first principles, as set out in Genesis:  he reminds them why marriage was established in the first place:  3 things are mentioned:

Companionship and mutual support – stewards of the earth together. As we learn from Genesis: It wasn’t good for man to be alone; I God made him a helper. 

And we note in passing, that woman was made from the side of man – not his head to rule her, nor his feet to walk over her.

 

Secondly, the Husband’s bond to his wife supersedes the bond to his parents:  they are to leave and cleave.

 

Then the depth of the marriage relationship is described as the two becoming ‘one flesh’ – in sexual, emotional and intellectual union, and through procreation.

 

Divorce means we miss out on companionship – we experience loneliness; our marriage vows are broken;

and the best place for sexual enjoyment and procreation, and the upbringing of children is taken away, or made very complicated.

When one flesh is separated, it is painful; it can be done, but it hurts.

 

Now while all this is true, there is also something else very significant going on in marriage that we and many people are unaware of.  And it is this:

You will remember that when God created man and woman and brought them together, he did this to reflect his very own image, his character and desires:  he is a God of love, of relationship, of commitment, companionship, peace and fulfilment; he’s often described as a helper and a friend.

 And this is what God longs for us to experience in our marriages, and also to understand and experience through marriage God’s very own tender love for us.

 

He doesn’t want us to think of marriage as the ultimate, but to discover through it that our own ultimate security and certainty can only be found in God;

even the best of marriages cannot replace God’s love and his promises (which can, of course, be found through singleness and celibacy too).

 

I wonder if sometimes we have been led to think that marriage is the be all and end all in relationships; it is not: the be all and end all in relationships is glorifying God, and enjoying him for ever.  Someone put it like this: (John Piper) "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”

 

So where does this leave those who are divorced? 

With everyone else!  With all the hard hearted!

All hearts need to be softened! 

God doesn’t write us off if we are divorced – or failed in so many other ways; rather we need to ask him to heal the torn flesh, to soften our hard hearts, and experience his forgiveness and love which is perfect, far deeper and lasting than any human love.

 

He has taken all our failures with him when he tasted death for everyone – whether through negligence, weakness, or our own deliberate fault.  He invites us into his family as his brothers and sisters, and to share the family likeness.

 

We actually – amazingly - take on his divine nature, and though his image in us is not automatic, with nurture and discipleship, using our minds, our decisions and will power, together with his Holy Spirit, he helps us through temptation, and makes us children of God.

 

He wants us to come to him like the little children with all their weakness and simple trust;

they know they bring Jesus great joy! 

They are not totting up their failures or their successes – Jesus loves them just as they are, and they love him – that’s the be all and end all.

 

Let Jesus take you into his arms today, and give you his blessing.

 


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