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Sunday 21st January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

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Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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31st July 2016 – Tenth Sunday after Trinity – Jack Noonan

Sermon 31.07.2016

Focus Scriptures: Ps. 49: 1-12; Col. 3: 1-11; Lk. 12: 13-21.

  • Introduction

The Holy Scriptures, Old and New are not prone to modern political correctness. We are commended to have regard for the ‘weaker brother’ and in following our Lord’s example be caring enough not to break a ‘bruised reed’….We are ,however, commanded to love God our Creator, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. The commandment demands our attention and allows no wriggle room for our individual ammendments and personal ‘safe spaces’. This commandment is the measuring stick by which we are to establish life’s priorities….

If I was to very loosely paraphrase today’s readings it would be; ‘Get a life…Sort yourself out fast. Examine and reprioritise your priorities. For we must not become so busy making a living that we forget to make a life… a life in Christ and through Christ Jesus that is pleasing to God our Father.

Zivot je kratky…

Physical life in this dimension is short…

Spiritual life, in the other dimension, is eternally long…

and one day, sooner or later, each of us will find ourselves in that spiritual realm giving an account of what was essentially, our probationary time here on earth. This account is given before the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the Christ.

In the New Testament and in some reports of near death experiences…this account giving/this testing judgement, is an encounter with the Pure Holiness and the Pure Love of King Jesus the Messiah.…..It is penetratingly soul searching, and excuse stripping. It is also without our well practiced facility of turning a blind eye and hiding from our shadow side of sin.

2.The Psalm

Our psalmist…one of the sons of Korah, echoing the voice of the preacher in Ecclesiastes cries out:

My mouth shall speak wisdom…and my heart shall meditate on understanding’

He laments our misplaced priorities and the wasting of our precious earth-time and energy in the accumulating wealth, possessions and accolades derived from ambition and social status. This life-style is not only short sighted folly but is also idolatrous. To our eternal cost we may be investing too great a proportion of our life’s energy in ‘created’ rather than in the Creator.

What strives to replace God in our lives? Has something in our attitude/unreflected values relegated Him to the occasional Sunday visit to this spiritual filling station?

If so…pozor….be very careful… that we do not neglect so great a gift of salvation. If this day you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

For all these precious acquisitions, skills and accomplishments will, sooner or later, be left behind. And the valued currency of materialism/mammon does not have a significant exchange rate in the heavenly/spiritual domain.

If we only develop the physical/material dimensions of our unique multi–facetted humanity, at the cost and well-being of our spiritual growth in Christ…then like Belshazzar we shall be found wanting when our turn comes to face the writing on the wall.

For the Holy Spirit through the psalmist says:

For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish and leave their wealth to those who come after them. Their graves shall be their homes …though they call the lands after their own names.

In short, regardless of the bravado of our egos, our collected possessions and social or professional ‘achievements’ we can take nothing with us. We came empty handed we leave the same way

And when we do ‘throw off this mortal coil’/ pass on/die/ kick the bucket; The True Reality comes very quickly into focus…A Reality honouring the spiritual value system which we may have treated very indifferently during our probationary time on planet earth.

Faith, Hope and Love in Jesus, make up the unique currency in this spiritual domain. Our saving account there is now vital, because all we may have saved here has extremely limited currency value there.

As that son of Korah sings:

We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; for the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it, in order to live for ever and ever, and never see the grave.’

3.Gospel Reading

It is well to note that these thoughts are not confined to Old Testament. Look at our gospel reading; see how Jesus confirms the validity of this moral… this immortal …value system:

Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’

Wealth is not prohibited by Jesus but He warns of its dangers. Paul reiterates this warning to Timothy; an often misquoted warning about money. The problem is not with money but with our attachment to money.

He writes:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Our inordinate attachments to ‘Things’, ‘Ways of Thinking’, ‘Ways of Behaving’ can become the source of great and damning side tracks in our lives. We unwittingly create idols, and by lavishing the lion’s share of our time/resources on them we risk becoming idolatrous. The penalty for which under the old Levitical law was death.

In today’s gospel…we hear of the expansionist plans, self-satisfied attitudes of our barn building entrepreneur, … he felt ‘no sweat’… all options were coolly covered…Jesus insensitively , by current pc standards, calls him a fool.

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

God’s word is alive.This morning, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, is addressing this parable to us.

Through Him we get access to the ‘inside-track’….and He warns us to invest heavily in….ETW stocks…. Eternal Priceless Wisdom.. Be ‘rich towards God’.

Today we are being given an opportunity…a chance… to address and redress any imbalances that exist between our earthly and heavenly savings accounts. For where our heart is, there also is our treasure.

4.The Epistle

What must we do to make sure that what credit we have in the heavenly spirit realm is not all froth and no pint…all shuffle and no deal?

Fortunately we have a Comforting Advocate…Who wishes that none should loose out. The Holy Spirit of God has a scheme for us. As He says through His prophet Jeremiah:

I know the plans I have for you. Plans of peace and not of evil, plans of prosperity and not calamity, to give you hope and a future.’

Paul sketches our way forward. He sets out our new spiritual status; for as believers we are now clothed ‘in Christ’ who is ‘the image of the invisible God…His greatest mystery… in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’

When we receive Christ Jesus in faith as our Lord and Saviour…we become, through the action of God’s own Spirit.. new creations . Seeded by the Word of God.. to grow into all good works.

Baptism is the outward sign of the inward change. In it we died and were buried, just like Jesus….. and like Him we are raised up by the Spirit of God out of this our baptismal grave. Through this living God-faith in Jesus, we were instantly translated/transferred from the sphere of spiritual darkness into ‘the kingdom of His Beloved Son’.

Paul reminds us that there are implications in receiving Christ Jesus, into our lives…

We need to get to know Him…not just about Him.

It’s all about relationship…It’s about NEW and EXPLOSIVE CREATIVE LOVE.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith …abounding in thanksgiving…for in Him the whole fullness of the Deity dwells…and you have been filled in Him..’

We were dead in trespasses and sin, but through the powerful working of God in Christ, He has forgiven our sins, AND paid off and cancelled all our debts with all the legal claims that stood against our name.

Spiritually we now grow with a growth that comes from God. As Wesley sung: we are ’changed from glory into glory…’

This is the context of the opening verse in our Colossian’s extract. A Christian’s spiritual existence is all about breathing in and out the mystical reality of; ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory…’Or putting it another way …the hope of glory is Christ in us…

Hence our need to reprioritise, for:

If you have been raised with Christ,

seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.  

Paul sets out the essential spiritual projects we are to tackle with the power of the Holy Spirit backing us:

1. Put off old morally destructive habits …especially covetousness which is idolatry.

2. Put off morally destructive emotions

3. Put off the Old Self and its ways of being.

4. Put on the New Self which is being renewed daily…recreated after the image of Christ in us.

5. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another…forgiving one another, even as we are forgiven.

6. Put on love which binds everything together in harmony.

This is the way, through the active Spirit of Jesus, we deposit invaluable and eternal currency in the Safety Deposit Boxes in the Kingdom Treasury Bank.

I conclude leaving the last words of enrichment with Paul:

Be Thankful’… ‘Pray unceasingly’….’and let the peace of Christ rule in your heart’