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

Sunday 28th January 2018 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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5th November 2017 – All Saints: Fourth Sunday Before Advent – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Readings: Revelation 7. 9 – 17 ; 1 John 3. 1 – 3 ; Matthew 5. 1 – 12

I imagine all of us here has a birth certificate; an important document that squarely establishes our time and place of birth and the identity of at least one parent.
On top of the Birth Certificate we also during the course of our lives, secure ID cards, Driving Licences and especially Passports.
These documents confirm our identity, give us legal status and access to many civil and social entitlements.
In a world circumscribed by the rule of law…..knowing who you are and what your rights are is vitally important…..as on earth so in heaven……………….how then do we stand in its eyes?

Each human being is a unique person. Our finger prints and the irises of the eyes confirm ,no two of us are identical. We are all unique creations. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually here is no one else… quite like you and quite like me.

The awesomeness of this uniqueness is no random evolutionary accident. God’s Word tells us that we are unique by design. We were made a little lower than the angels.

In Holy Scriptures we see that our humanity has it’s origins in the eternal dynamic, creative love of the Triune God Himself… who made us in His very image and likeness …
It is important for us to know the truth about ourselves; As Isaiah put it …know; ‘the rock from whence we are hewn’.
Knowing our seed and breed is essential for having a proper appreciation for who and what we are….especially in the eyes of God.

Psalm 139, spells out our God-breathed origin and formation.

For you created my inmost being;(conscience/internal organs)
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

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.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

*Our Creator God is not an abstract universal ”cosmic energy”, though He does hold all that is created by the power of His Word,
Neither is our God an impersonal, distant being, utterly indifferent to His creation and humankind…

*Our God is a most personal and intimate God who time and again, in our human and personal history, has searched us out.
He, more than we, is aware of the pearl of great worth that resides in our blinkered nature. God has the mother of all pearls that completes and sets off the ones we possess…. This mother of pearl is called Love….. As Deep calls to deep…. so Love calls to love and we are forever restless until we surrender to the gravitational pull of our Creator’s Love.

*Our God is a searching God.
When we, in obstinate waywardness went defiantly off the rails…. our God, to His great personal cost, would not cast us off…. but faithfully searched us out.

Perverse and foolish oft I/we strayed ,
But yet in love He sought me/us,
And on his shoulders gently laid,
And home rejoicing brought me/us.

Love’s persistent gravitational pull, in time embodied itself in the Incarnate Divine Word, Jesus the Christ.

Jesus(Col.15)..’the very image of the invisible God…in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through the blood of His Cross.

*Jesus initiated God’s kingdom.
*Jesus spoke prayer into our lives.
*Jesus with blood,sweat and tears drew us back to God.
A reconciliation so complete that we are invited to address the Almighty God/ Creator as Father.
* Jesus then through His Spirit gave us a tremendous job description empowering us to heal the sick, cleanse the leper, cast out evil spirits and raise the dead : )

But there is more, much more…. this morning St. John excitedly told us:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are….Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him…’
and in his gospel:
‘… as many as received Him/Jesus, to them(us) He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name… (Jn1:12)

Paul in Philippians confirms this new dimension to the believers’ humanity reminding us of our new identity in Christ and our new citizenship in heaven:

‘… our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him… will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.…

Through Christ Jesus.. God’s old covenant promises are released on us, Christ’s disciples.
In 2 Cor6.16/17 Paul seamlessly blends them together; drawing on no less than 7 OT books (Lev.Ex.Eze.Jer, Zeph, Is.and Hos) to outline the new spiritual reality which envelops us as God’s children …right here…right now.

” The Lord Almighty says; I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people…And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” .(2Cor 6:16-18)
I found in working on this sermon, that this truth we must grasp….not merely intellectually but emotionally. We are no longer lone orphans….we have a Father.

Because… ‘God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”(Gal4:6)
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,(Rom 8:16)
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.(Rom8:17)

These are not just some pious aspirations. These are real rock solid truths. Truths to build faith on.

We are no mean penny sparrows. We are;

‘…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that (we) may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called (us) out of darkness into His marvellous light.(1Pet)

Though citizens of heaven ….and aliens/exiles in the world….. we have responsiblilites here on earth. We are not allowed to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use.
We are a holy priesthood, the salt of the earth, the bright shining light on stand ,the city on the hill….reaching out in the name of God to and serve the household of faith, our neighbours and all humanity…We are commissioned to radiate the free and unmerited love of of God, in Christ Jesus, to all and sundry.

So, by way of conclusion……what is this sermon’s Take Away Menu?

6 words to remember and in faith activate

Security, Authority, Intimacy, Assurance, Inheritance and Family Resemblances.

1. Security
A solid child-parent relationship is characterised by an unconditional love that cultivates trust and confidence. Our Father tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us .

2. Authority
As children of God through Jesus we are given authority to blast sin and the works of evil. The world belongs to our Father, the King of kings. We can have confidence knowing our Dad is the Boss and we bear His name.
3. Intimacy
“By him we cry, ‘Abba’”.“Abba” a Hebrew/Aramaic word, best translated“Daddy/Papa/Tata”—an expression of the greatest intimacy….inviting love, trust and familiarity.
In Isaiah God says:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.

4. Assurance
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”. When we cry out to God as “Abba,” the Spirit of God somehow draws near and gives us assurance that we are family. This is the Real Inner Witness saying;’Yes….I will never leave you or forsake you.

5. Inheritance
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”. This means we have a literally indescribable future…we caught a glimpse of it in our reading from Revelation.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
6. Family Resemblance
Though we are adopted, God actually implants, through the Holy Spirit, Christ’s nature in us. As we grow in grace we will increasingly bear the family resemblance
So brothers and sisters let us rejoice and be glad. We have a waiting Father, a loving brother and an embracing Spirit minding us. ; ))
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
Amen.