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Sunday 20th August 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity followed by Cool Drinks & Refreshments
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

Sunday 27th August 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity followed by Cool Drinks & Refreshments
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

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20th November 2016 – Christ the King – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Psalm 46; Colossians 1. 11-20; Luke 23. 33-43

Sermon 20.11.2016.

Focus Scriptures: Ps. 46, Col.1. 11-20, Lk. 23.33-45.

How unaware and presumptive I can sometimes be. When Ricky and myself discussed dates for my next sermon. I instantly jumped for the honour of this one …the feast day, when the church celebrates Christ the King.

However, a couple of days when I eventually sat down to write, I found that my mind and heart simply shut down… all went blank. All I had read by way of preparation was like dry ash in my mouth. The words and ideas were lifeless. I lost that inner voice, leaving familiar Panic raised its head.

Just then an email appeared in my inbox. It was from a member of our congregation…one of our prayer warriors asking me :

‘’How are you doing with preparation for Sunday..? You are in my thoughts and Prayers. Peace of God to you.’’

I telegraphed back:

Work v slow…………..no clear focus/ no message ……….continue in prayer ……………not at ease yet….thanks for interceding for me….. 

 

The Holy Spirit is pretty straight forward and when He has a mind to, He can be really very down to earth.

So He indicates that when lost, retrace your steps, return to the Ikea box and read the instructions….in this case indicating….. this morning’s readings…… and read, read and reread them again and again asking the internal question:

What might the Spirit of King Jesus, on this His feast day, be saying to us this morning as we gather together around His Word in the Presence of His Holy Spirit?

OK, then,……So looking at our psalm we see it gives us sweeping +broad brush strokes dipped in hope, security and confidence.

The BCP version of this psalm opens with ‘God is our Hope/Refuge and Strength…’

We see God, our Father declaring Himself, in no uncertain terms to be for us, His Christ bought family. He is not against us. Remember our God is Good ….always.

I AM ‘’ y/our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved and mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea…’

Even in the middle of crisis and chaos…

We ‘shall not be overthrown’ and His ‘help will come right early’.

And despite political upheavals in the UK and the US of A

And nations/NATO making much ado……about Russia

and kingdoms being shaken… Like Libya, Iraq and Syria

We are instructed to stand back…look…. and ‘BE still…and know …that I AM GOD. Knowing in this context is eons beyond mere intellectual understanding. It is knowing from the embedded very dna fibres of our being.

Joyfully know it that our Triune God, in Jesus Christ, is King and Creator of all that exists…..and only when He ‘has spoken’ shall ‘the earth… melt away’.

It is God, not humans, who has the final say about history and creation.

And if we are still doubting and fearing…. our Maker/King directly challenges us, in this psalm, to confidently open our minds and eyes and look above and beyond our man-made blinkers… to history, geography, to all the sciences, to all the wonders of the animal and natural world:

Come now and look upon the works of the Lord, what awesome things he has done on earth.’

Generations later, it will be through the Divine inspiration given to Paul, in Colossian, that we get an insight as to just how profoundly and deeply mysterious this awesomeness truly is.

For through Paul, the Holy Spirit reveals, that all creation…all that has existed, exists and continues to exist…..comes from ….and is maintained by……the creative Word/Logos of the God who said;

let there be light and there was light’.

What makes the earth, universe and cosmos truly awesome is that all that exists is mystically bound up with/in/by the very person of Christus Rex Christ the King.

The person of Jesus is a multi-layered mystery bound up with His also being…. the pre-existent, eternal, Creative Word of God who dwelt and dwells amongst us.

For the Crucified and Resurrected Jesus is nothing less than:

the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible,…(for) all things have been created through him and for him… and in him all things hold together.’

 

There is a strong theme of the passionate commitment of God our Father towards us in all our readings. We see God’s Spirit progressively enabling our transformation from glory into glory.….

through Christ….. with Christ ….in Christ….and ultimately for Christ.

This transforming Love radiates from and through His Holy Spirit… sometimes we can be spiritually sensitive enough to spot and recognise it;…. calling it sanctifying grace and divine favour.

This Divine Love is available to all of us who, in faith call on Him in our Lord Jesus.

It is an unconditional and eternal Love.

The Love of God released to us in King Jesus is an effective, unending, self-giving, and self-sacrificing Love… for it renews and saves each of us to the uttermost.

Our Father God, as Paul reveals in Colossians:

‘’ has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’’

The love of this humble, straight forward, courageous and unassuming King is testified to, down through history, by every believer touched by His Living Spirit.

Every Christ-follower, by whatever route the Spirit uses, symbolically and spiritually eventually come to the place that is called The Skull in our gospel reading. Jesus and His cross .Us and our cross. We will all encounter our cross. Like Jesus, we will, to our left and our right, be faced with choices.

In Christian growth we all enter the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane….enroute to our Cross of Testing. Our testing by Love and in Love.

But do not fear the time of challenge … King Jesus has been down that road before us and has promised never to leave us or forsake us and our God is faithful. . Our testing is by Love and in Love.

In that time of testing

Will we hear our own scoffing voices and the mocking words that plagued us all our lives?

Will we remember things that fooled us… because they sounded so promising but proved to be only sour wine?

Will we hear sarcasms; ‘You were always king of your own life. Surely you can save yourself.’

Do not fear …quietly smile…these testings indicate spiritual upgrading and growth not disintegration or failure. Do not look in and down but out and up.

The old hymn tells us: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus’.

By the Grace of Love and the Promises of God in Christ, our King, we will be enabled to say with the repentant thief, as with an earlier publican in the Temple:

Jesus, (be merciful to me a sinner and) remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

Jesus (will say to us), ‘Truly I tell you; today you will be with me in Paradise.’

Do not look and judge the lacerated, crucified Jesus by His mortifying appearance on the cross.

See with your God-given eyes of life-saving faith.

As Paul said earlier:

in Jesus/him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

The Cross is the key….to freedom through radical self-denial.

The Cross is the axis…the intersection of Love and Justice.

The Cross is the portal…passing from death to life

Without the eyes of faith Christ’s Cross is seen as a place of…..folly, enmity, disobedience, defeat, failure, helplessness, death.

But

With the eyes of faith Christ’s Cross becomes the source of wisdom, forgiveness, obedience, victory, power, peace and eternal life.

 

The Cross of Christ embraces this welter of paradox/ apparent contradictions. But for the Christian it recalibrates our notion of service, sacrifice and especially kingship. Hitherto Christ’s Kingship was without pomp and circumstance.

For written over the mutilated body of Jesus is written: ‘This is the King…’ .

And humanity’s ear still echoes His final prayer: ‘Father forgive them…’

For King Jesus and all who follow Him, are forever servants one of another, living out His command for us to love one another as He has loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Through that Roman gibbet we can now, through the act of faith in Christ the King, be totally reconciled with our Father/ God and translated eternally into His kingdom of Light.

Conclusion and Application

Let us now with more confidence, hope and joy return to where we started. The psalm. And there we will find our application and conclusion.

Be still, then, and know that I am God…

 

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to reintroduce us to and enrich those essential times of Prayer with Him.

Effective prayer is simple + has 4 basic ingredients:

Praise, Thanksgiving and Supplication… topped with a generous sprinkling of Stillness

The fruit of the pudding is in the eating…. Prayer steadily changes things…it draws us… over time we receive a total makeover.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him…’

Taste and see that the Lord is good’

Amen.