Long, long ago, in a
land far away from here, God’s people were feeling discouraged.
For many years, all the people who mattered had been taken off to
exile in Babylon, and now only a few of the poorest remaining, plus
people from other tribes who had taken advantage of the empty city.
Most of the city had been reduced to rubble, and, worst of all, the
Temple had been burnt down.
But that had been some
sixty years ago. Now, the Babylonians had been conquered in their
turn. King Darius was on the throne of one of the greatest empires
the world had ever known, the Achaemenid
Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire. It had been founded
by his grandfather, Cyrus the Great – you might remember Cyrus from
when you’ve been reading Isaiah – and now spanned a huge swathe
of territory, which, at its greatest extent included all of the
territory of modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria,
Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, parts of Egypt and
as far west as eastern Libya, Macedonia, the Black Sea coastal
regions of Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, all of Armenia,
Georgia, Azerbaijan, parts of the North Caucasus, and much of Central
Asia. It truly was one of the largest empires ever!
Obviously one person
couldn’t govern all that, so they basically devolved their
government into provinces, ruled over by a provincial governor. The
area we’re concerned with today was known as Yehud Medinata, which
is basically just a translation of “Kingdom of Judah”, but, of
course, it wasn’t a kingdom any more, just one more province of
this huge empire.
King Cyrus had decreed
that the Jews could, if they wished, return to Judah and rebuild
their temple, and appointed a man named Zerubbabel, a grandson of the
penultimate king of Judah, as governor. Zerubbabel went to Jerusalem
with the new High Priest, a man called Joshua or Yeshua, it’s not
quite clear which. Unfortunately, not all that many exiles went with
them. The people had settled down in their new homes, as Jeremiah
had told them to so long ago, and now were prospering and most
reluctant to uproot themselves and their families. Most of them had
been born in exile, and had no idea what Jerusalem was like, other
than that it was some distant corner of the Empire. No thanks, they
were very-nicely-thank-you where they were, they might come and visit
when the city was rebuilt, but not just now.
That was the first
setback. But those who went with Zerubbabel worked very hard, and
gave very generously, and eventually the foundations of the Temple
were laid. There was great rejoicing – you can read all about this
in the book of Ezra, if you feel so minded – great rejoicing,
although some of the older people were overcome with grief at the
memory of the first Temple, which they could just, just remember....
and this? Not the same at all!
But many of the people
who lived in the area – again, this is all in the book of Ezra –
didn’t want to see the Temple rebuilt. Now, they knew as well as
anybody that really, only the people authorised by King Cyrus could
do any building work, and anyway, these people were not really
Jewish. But they came to Zerubbabel and said, sweetly, “Oh, do let
us help!” and when he said “No”, they did all they could to
stop the building works – sabotage, frightening people, and writing
incessantly to the King to ask him to make them stop work.
And for eighteen years,
no more work was done on the Temple.
But then King Darius came to the throne and eventually the situation
came to his notice. So he wrote to the other governors in the area
saying that Cyrus had authorised the rebuilding of the Temple, and
therefore: “I order you to stay away from Jerusalem. Don’t
bother the workers. Don’t try to stop the work on this Temple of
God. Let the Jewish governor and the Jewish leaders rebuild it. Let
them rebuild God’s Temple in the same place it was in the past.
Now I give this order. You must do this for the Jewish leaders
building God’s Temple: The cost of the building must be fully paid
from the king’s treasury. The money will come from the taxes
collected from the provinces in the area west of the Euphrates River.
Do these things quickly, so the work will not stop. Give them
anything they need. If they need young bulls, rams, or male lambs
for sacrifices to the God of heaven, give these things to them. If
the priests of Jerusalem ask for wheat, salt, wine, and oil, give
these things to them every day without fail. Give them to the Jewish
priests so that they may offer sacrifices that please the God of
heaven. Give these things so that the priests may pray for me and my
Also, I give this order: If anyone changes this order, a wooden beam
must be pulled from their house and pushed through their body. Then
their house must be destroyed until it is only a pile of rocks.
God put his name there in Jerusalem. May God defeat any king or
other person who tries to change this order. If anyone tries to
destroy this Temple in Jerusalem, may God destroy that person.
I, Darius, have ordered
it. This order must be obeyed quickly and completely.”
Quite a turn-round. And then, enter the prophet Haggai. We don’t
really know who he was, whether he was one of those who went off into
exile, or one of those who stayed behind. Either way, he supported
Zerubbabel and Yeshua, and he knows that God wants the Temple to be
rebuilt. So, three weeks after the work began again, he receives
this message from God, as we heard in our first reading: ‘How many
of you people look at this Temple and try to compare it to the
beautiful Temple that was destroyed? What do you think? Does this
Temple seem like nothing when you compare it with the first Temple?
But the Lord says, “Zerubbabel, don’t be discouraged!” And the
Lord says, “Joshua son of Jehozadak, you are the high priest.
Don’t be discouraged! And all you people who live in the land,
don’t be discouraged! Continue this work, because I am with you.”’
discouraged”. That was God’s message to the people of Jerusalem
at that time. The Temple was at that stage of construction that you
wish you’d never started, when it gets worse before it gets better.
You know what it’s like, when you set out to have a massive
tidy-up at home, it always gets worse before it gets better, and
half-way through you start to wish you hadn’t bothered! “Don’t
It’s a good message
for us just now, isn’t it? 2016 has been an appalling year so far
– not just the celebrity deaths, sad though they are. But the
Brexit referendum, and the upsurge in racism and intolerance we’ve
seen since then, the awful situation in Calais, the sword of Damocles
hanging over us in the shape of the US elections this coming week....
it’s been a dreadful year so far and it’s not over yet.
But I do truly believe
that God says to us “Don’t be discouraged!” The Christians in
Thessalonica appear to have been discouraged, too, when St Paul wrote
to them. They had received false teaching, saying that Christ had
already returned, and they thought they had missed out. Which they
hadn’t. St Paul points out that there has to be tribulation first,
and this hadn’t happened at the time of writing, so Jesus can’t
possibly have returned yet. And when he does, they’ll all know all
And he goes on to tell them not to be discouraged, either: “Brothers
and sisters, you are people the Lord loves. And we always thank God
for you. That’s what we should do, because God chose you to be
some of the first people to be saved. You are saved by the Spirit
making you holy and by your faith in the truth. God chose you to
have that salvation. He chose you by using the Good News that we
told you. You were chosen so that you can share in the glory of our
Lord Jesus Christ. So, brothers and sisters, stand strong and
continue to believe the teachings we gave you when we were there and
sisters, you are the people the Lord loves.” And that’s just as
true for us as it was for the people of Thessalonica. We, too, are
saved by the Spirit making us holy, and by our faith in the truth,
and God chose us to have that salvation.
So, in the face of all
the awful things happening around us, let’s not be discouraged! We
are the people the Lord loves, and we will continue to share that
love with others in His name, no matter how many awful things happen.
No matter what the result of the American election. No matter how
badly our quality of life may deteriorate when we leave the EU. If
we leave – I still find it hard to believe that anything so
disastrous could possibly happen.
We are the people the
Lord loves. We will not allow ourselves to be discouraged. Amen!
This sermon was preached at a Service at which the Sea Scouts paraded
It’s not very often I
open my Bible – or, these days, open a Bible app on my phone or
tablet – and come across a passage I’ve never even heard of
before, but, do you know, that’s exactly what happened when I read
the Old Testament reading for today, from the prophet Jeremiah. I
thought I had read all the book of Jeremiah, but this bit obviously
Jeremiah writes a
letter to the people of Israel, who have been taken into captivity in
Babylonia, and this is what he says: “The Lord Almighty, the God of
Israel, says to all those people whom he allowed Nebuchadnezzar to
take away as prisoners from Jerusalem to Babylonia: ‘Build
houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what you grow in them.
Marry and have children. Then let your children get married, so
that they also may have children. You must increase in numbers and
not decrease. Work for the good of the cities where I have made
you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are
prosperous, you will be prosperous too.’”
Well, what’s this all
about, then? What had happened to the people of Israel, and why did
God want them to settle down?
Well, a few centuries
earlier, the kingdom of Israel had been divided into two, with the
northern kingdom being larger, and the southern kingdom, Judah, being
smaller. But the Middle East is, was, and probably always will be a
very unsettled area, and back in the day, the strongest nation in the
region was called Assyria. And eventually the Assyrians conquered
the northern kingdom, known as Israel, and carted its leaders off
The southern kingdom,
Judah, struggled along for another couple of centuries, being more or
less allied with Assyria. Eventually Assyria fell in its turn, and
Babylonia became a power in the region. King Nebuchadnezzar was able
to conquer the kingdom of Judah, and he carried its people off into
captivity. Not everybody went, of course, either time, but certainly
they would have taken the leaders and influential people, and their
families and extended families, and what was left behind were the
ordinary people. We do know that some of the people who went to
Babylon had great influence there – Daniel, for instance, or
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You can read their stories in the
Book of Daniel.
Anyway, the point was
Jeremiah lived around that time, and he was one of those left behind.
There seems to have been a certain amount of coming and going.
Anyway, Jeremiah’s letter said what he believed God was asking him
to say to the people: Settle down in your new cities, raise your
families, and, above all, pray for your new homes and your new
rulers. The people were obviously going to be away for some years,
and it made sense to make proper homes for themselves rather than
hope – as some of the crowd-pleasers kept telling them – that
they would be able to go back home next week.
Well, that’s all very
well, and all very interesting, but what does it have to do with us
today? These people lived long ago in history, and there aren’t
even many sources to confirm what really happened!
Well, that letter might
have been written about two and a half thousand years ago, but it’s
still relevant today. We are not exiles in a strange land – but
goodness, more people are today than at any time in human history!
Millions of people, quite literally, have had to leave their homes
and flee to safety; many now have to live in refugee camps, which I
believe is all very well in the summer, but would you like to have to
live in a wet and muddy tent as winter draws on? No, me neither!
Others have been able to get to safety in Europe, and many here, to
the United Kingdom. Some of them set out to cross the sea in the
kind of rickety little boats that would give your leaders a heart
attack – and some, sadly, didn’t make it. And many, if not all,
of those who come will do just exactly as Jeremiah told his people,
all those years ago. They will settle down, get jobs, and work for
the good of their new country. And if they are praying people –
and many of them are Muslim, so they will be – they will be praying
for their new country, and their new friends, too.
And if they are doing
it, how much more should we be doing it? We are told to pray for our
city and our homes, and that includes our friends.
Prayer is an odd sort
of activity, isn’t it? Especially what’s called intercessory
prayer, which is when we ask God for other people, and for ourselves.
You would think God would know people’s needs before they ask –
and of course, God does! But we are told to pray; it seems in the
Bible that it’s absolutely indispensable. Jesus assumed that
people prayed; you might remember that he said “When you pray....”
rather than “if”. In a few minutes, when we have our
intercessory prayer, I’ll be reading out a list of names of people
who’ve asked the church to pray for them. Yet God already knows
their needs. And it’s the same if you see on social media that a
friend is poorly or something, and you stop what you’re doing and
say a little prayer for them, even something like, “Dear God,
please look after them and help them feel better.” God already
knew they didn’t feel great....
I don’t know why we
are told to pray, but we are. It seems as if prayer creates a
condition, an energy if you like, that enables God to work. I do
know that when we pray, things change. We change. The more we pray,
I think, the closer we come to God, and the more we are enabled to
see things from God’s point of view. We aren’t telling God what
to do, although it might start off feeling like that; we are barely
even asking, other than to say here’s this person with this need,
can you do something about it? And sometimes God says, yes, here’s
this person with this need, what are *you* going to do about
We can’t, of course,
make someone feel better if they’re not well, but we can text them
and say we’re thinking of them; if new children come to your school
who don’t yet speak much English, you can befriend them, show them
what they need to know – where the toilets are, for instance, or
where to go when it’s lunchtime. If someone’s being bullied, you
can help them report it, or just stay with them so the bullies can’t
get at them. That sort of thing. And the grown-ups will have their
But we need to pray, we
need to bring our concerns to God. Jeremiah told his people to
settle down, and to work and pray for their community. They
needed to become part of their new communities, even though they
hoped they’d be able to go home soon. In fact, it was about fifty
years before they could go home – that’s another amazing story in
the Bible, and you can read all about it in the books called Ezra and
Nehemiah. But they did go home, although the Jewish community also
ended up scattered throughout the world.
We need to pray for our
community, whether large or small – our family, our schools or
workplaces, our London boroughs, London in general – the Mayor and
our elected representatives.... all of those. And for our
government, for Mrs May and her Cabinet. God said to the people of
Judah in exile: “Work for the good of the cities where I have made
you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are
prosperous, you will be prosperous too.” Amen.
For the first time since I started using my Kindle Fire to record my sermons, the recording has failed me! Only the first 4 minutes recorded, one of which had to be edited out when I dropped the microphone and couldn't reattach it to my t-shirt.
The sermon was a "sustainable sermon", and you can find the text here.
Some years ago now I
went into my father’s study, and found him reading his Bible. I
enquired what he was reading, and he told me that he was looking up the passage he had
heard in Church that morning, as it struck him that it must have been
written for people who owned more than one dog: “The more I called
them, the more they went from me!”
Dogs do that. Puppies,
especially. And so do small children – if you chase a puppy or a
small child, it will run away, in the case of the child usually
laughing hysterically until it falls over, at which point it howls.
If you’re serious about getting either child or dog to come to you,
you need to stop calling, turn round, and pretend you’re going to
go away, at which point dog and child will usually come running.
This is a lovely
passage, one of the ones in the Old Testament that shows us God as a
loving parent, and helps us to understand why Jesus said to call him
“Abba”, or “Daddy” - children today who speak Hebrew as their
first language usually call their fathers “Abba”, and their mums
Anyway, the person who
wrote this passage, Hosea, was a prophet in Israel in the 8th
Century BC, so ten thousand years ago. Which is a very long time
indeed, but nevertheless! In the Armenian church, they celebrate
Hosea and the other so-called “minor prophets” today, 31 July.
Hosea was one of those
people who did things to illustrate what he believed God was saying,
as well as saying them. He married a woman, Gomer, who was a
prostitute, and she continued to go with other men even after she was
married to him. This was to illustrate God’s sadness and
disappointment that Israel was going after other gods and not
worshipping God any more. And there are all sorts of doom-and-gloom
prophecies, you know the kind of thing, saying that the people will
be taken away into slavery if they do not repent and turn back to
But Chapter 11, the chapter we read today, is a little
different. The metaphor changes from a husband-wife relationship to
a parent-child one. And God laments, loud and long, that his
children will not come back to him. Verses 3 and 4 are maternal in
their love for Israel, or Ephraim as it is also known:
“Yet it was
I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them
up in my arms;
but they did not know that
I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
bands of love.
I was to them like those
lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down
to them and fed them.”
The image is of God as
mother, breastfeeding her children, who then grow up and turn away,
doing the things they know their mother hates. And suffering the
consequences, too. And God also hates that:
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
I hand you over, O Israel?
. . .
My heart recoils within me;
grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no
the Holy One in your
and I will not come in wrath.”
God’s own law says
that Ephraim must be destroyed, but God’s heart revolts against the
implications of that law, and refuses to destroy a beloved child.
The Israelites did go into exile, as promised/threatened:
“They shall return to the land of Egypt,
Assyria shall be their king,
have refused to return to me.
The sword rages in their
it consumes their
and devours because of
My people are bent on turning away from me.”
The King of Assyria was
put on the throne, and the tribes were lost. Admah and Thingummy –
Zeboiim, I think you say it – were two of the Cities of the plain
that were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah.
But God didn’t cease
to love Ephraim, even though Israel made its own plans, worshipped
its own gods, and refused to turn back to God. That didn’t matter
to the great Father-heart of God.
In our Gospel reading,
we hear about someone else who made his own plans and they went
astray. The rich farmer decided to pull down his barns and build
bigger ones to store his crops so that he would be comfortable in the
future. But do you notice, it’s all “I, me, mine!” “I will
build bigger barns to have more room to store my crops”. There
appears to be no question of his giving away his surplus this year –
no, he plans to be rich!
But then – the heart
attack, the stroke, the ruptured artery, and bye-bye rich farmer!
And who are all those crops going to belong to now? asks Jesus,
cleverly coming back to the question that started it all: “Tell my
brother I want my fair share of my inheritance!”
It is not earthly goods
that matter. Not in God’s eyes, anyway. Elsewhere, Jesus tells
his followers not to store up treasure on earth “Where moth and
rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal”, but rather to store
up treasure in heaven. And that’s pretty much what he is saying
But what does it all
mean for us, and how do we relate it to the passage in Hosea?
It’s about what we
value ourselves by, I think. All of us here are pretty well off, by
the standards of much of the world – I expect we are all wearing
clothes and shoes – and if we are barefoot, it is from choice. We
probably have a change of clothes and of shoes at home, and we can
wash in warm water each morning and have drains to dispose of used
water and other waste. We are going home to eat enough food, to
homes that keep out the elements and are warm in winter; we probably
have a television and a telephone, and may well have the Internet.
Now, there is nothing
wrong with any of those things, as long as we don’t start to value
ourselves by how much we have. And as long as we realise that most
of the world doesn’t have these things, that millions of people
have been forced to leave their homes due to war or famine and to
live in makeshift camps with no running water or proper facilities
for disposing of sewage, with no jobs, no residents’ permits, no
real hope. If they have been lucky enough to be admitted to a
European country they still can’t work while their request for
asylum is being processed, and even though they get a small
allowance, it isn’t really enough to live on, and certainly not
enough to lead a comfortable life.
The farmer in Jesus’
story was valuing himself by his possessions, by how much he owned.
It is a seductive temptation, isn’t it? Even the Jews were
inclined to believe that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing, and
poverty a sign of the reverse. And we have all heard of “prosperity
theology” which claims that God wants you to be rich – and so God
does, but not necessarily in material possessions! In fact, they are
of least importance, when moth and rust can corrupt and thieves break
in and steal.
It is the treasures in
heaven that God wants us to store up. Jesus said, “In my Father’s
house are many mansions”, and we know that values in God’s
country are totally different from values here. But it is in God’s
country that we need to store up our treasure!
So we need to stop
valuing ourselves by our jobs, or by our income, or even by how hard
we work for the Church. We need to value ourselves because Jesus
values us. Because Jesus died for us on the Cross, and God raised
him from the dead. Because we are loved so much that God found a way
to keep us with Him.
“The more I called them, the more they went from me”, said Hosea.
“You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you,”
says God to the rich farmer.
What are you valuing
yourself by? And incidentally, it’s no good valuing yourself by
how much you pray or use the other means of grace. Because it is
only through the grace of God that we have any value at all in God’s
eyes – but in God’s eyes, our value is enormous! Amen.
You might want to listen to the podcast, as between having written this and preaching it, there was an atrocity in Nice and an attempted coup d'etat in Turkey, both of which had to be talked about. I'm told I "gabbled rather", and I expect I did, as I always do when preaching extempore! See what you think!
forget who it was who, when asked whether he preferred Martha or
Mary, said: “Before dinner, Martha; afterwards, definitely
I’ve always felt a bit sorry for Martha. There she was,
desperate to get all these men fed,
her sister isn’t helping. And when she asks Jesus to send her
just gets told that Mary has “chosen the better part”.
it was Martha who, on another occasion, caused Jesus to declare: “I
am the resurrection and the life.
who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And
Martha herself gave us that wonderful statement of faith: “Yes,
Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,
Son of God,
one coming into the world.” Martha was seriously a woman of
faith. And she wanted to show her love to the Lord by providing
him and his disciples with a really good meal. Maybe she overdid
it – the Lord might have preferred Martha’s company, even if
it did mean dining on bread and cheese, and perhaps a few olives.
family at Bethany has many links in the Bible. Some people have
identified Mary as the woman who poured ointment all over Jesus’
feet in the house of Simon the Leper – and because he lived in
Simon the Leper, that
is, not Jesus –
people have also said that he was married to Martha. We don’t
At that, some people
have said that Jesus was married to Mary; again, we don’t
What we do know is that Martha and Mary were sisters,
that they had a beloved brother, called Lazarus. We do know that
on one occasion Mary poured her expensive perfume all over the feet
of the Lord – whether this was the same Mary as in the other
accounts or a different one isn’t quite clear. But whatever,
they seem to have been a family that Jesus knew well,
home where he knew he was welcome,
dear friends whose grief he shared when Lazarus died,
though he knew that God would raise him. Lazarus, I mean, not
Jesus, this time!
some ways the story “works” better if the woman who poured
ointment on Jesus’ feet in the house of Simon the Leper and this
one and the same person,
we know that the woman in Simon’s house was, or had been,
kind of loose woman that a pious Jew wouldn’t normally associate
with. Now she has repented and been forgiven,
simply adores Jesus, who made that possible for her. And she seems
to have been taken back into her sister’s household, possibly
rather on sufferance.
then she does nothing but sit at Jesus’ feet, listening to
him. Back then, this simply was Not Done. Only men were thought
to be able to learn,
were supposed not to be capable. Actually, I have a feeling that
the Jews thought that only Jewish free men were able to learn. They
would thank God each morning that they had not been made a woman, a
slave or a Gentile. And even though St Paul had sufficient insight
to be able to write that “In Christ, there is neither male nor
female, slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile”,
at a stroke disposing of the prayer he’d been taught to make daily,
it’s taken us all a very long time to work that out,
and recent events would
show we haven’t really worked it out yet!
the point is that Mary, by sitting at Jesus’ feet like that,
behaving in rather an outrageous fashion. Totally blatant, like
throwing herself at him. He might have felt extremely
it’s quite possible that his disciples did. Martha certainly
did, which was one of the reasons why she asked Jesus to send Mary
through to help in the kitchen.
Jesus replied: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not
be taken away from her.”
with all her history, was now thirsty for the Word of God. Jesus
wanted to be able to give Mary what she needed,
teaching that only he could provide. He would have liked to have
given it to Martha, too,
if only Martha could be
persuaded that they’d be quite happy with bread and cheese.
But Martha wasn’t
Later on, yes, after Lazarus had died, but not
many ways, Martha and Mary represent the two different sides of
spirituality, perhaps even of Christianity. Mary, wrapped up in
sitting at the feet of her Lord, learning from him, listening to him,
perhaps so heavenly-minded she was of no earthly use. Martha,
rather the reverse. She was so wrapped up in doing something for
she couldn’t see the importance of taking time out to sit at Jesus’
feet and listen. Or if she could, it wasn’t something she wanted
to do while there was work that needed to be done. She expressed
her love for Jesus by wanting to feed him,
to work for him.
of us, I think, are like either Martha or Mary in some ways. Many
of us are more or less integrated, of course,
time both to sit at Jesus’ feet in worship, adoration and learning,
and time to serve Him in practical ways,
through working either in the Church or in the Community.
of us are less balanced. We spend our time doing one or the other,
but not both. Mind you, it usually balances out within the context
of a church; the people who do the praying and listening,
people who do the practical jobs that need to be done around the
the people who do both. And perhaps in an area, too, it balances
some churches doing far more in the way of work in the community than
perhaps less in the way of prayer meetings,
or similar courses
other Bible studies. And so it goes on.
Old Testament reading brings this need for balance very much to the
fore-front. The Lord, speaking through the prophet Amos,
his disgust with those who have failed to be honest and upright in
‘Listen to this, you that trample on the needy
and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves,
“We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can
sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start
selling again? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix
the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a
high price. We'll find someone poor who can't pay his debts, not
even the price of a pair of sandals, and we'll buy him as a slave.”’
And then, after a paragraph of warning of physical
misery, comes the terrible warning: “The time is coming when I will
send famine on the land. People will be hungry, but not for bread;
they will be thirsty, but not for water. They will hunger and thirst
for a message from the Lord. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken.
People will wander from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean and then on
around from the north to the east. They will look everywhere for a
message from the Lord, but they will not find it.”
will look everywhere for a message from the Lord, but they will not
find it.” The people started off with dishonest measures, with
forcing the poor into slavery, and end up longing to hear from the
Lord, but the heavens have been closed off to them.
am I reminded of current events? This whole mess in our country,
everybody wondering what will happen next; will we really have to
leave the EU, and what are the implications if we do? Parliament
going into a tailspin and leaders resigning left, right and centre –
well, mostly left and right, actually; I think the Liberal Democrat
leader is still there. Or he was when I was writing this, but who
don’t want to go into detail about the causes of this whole
disaster; you know them as well as I do. The road this country has
chosen to take over the past 50 years hasn’t helped – the erosion
of our manufacturing base, the disappearance of industries such as
shipbuilding, consumer electronics, aircraft manufacture and most of
the vehicle construction industry. The fact that we were lied
to, over and over again, by politicians and by the Murdoch press....
you know all that as well as I do. And I’m finding it incredibly
difficult to work out what to say, anyway, as I’m so aware that my
experience as a White, middle-class, elderly British woman is so very
different to so much of many of your experiences. What, after all,
do I know?
whatever our experiences, however afraid of the future we might be,
can we do anything about it?
of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow; we can’t see round
the bend in the road. But there is much we can do – not least, to
pray for our country, and for our leaders; for Mrs May as she settles
in to the job of being Prime Minister, and the Cabinet she is going
to have to choose – and the awful decision she faces as to whether
and when to trigger Article 50, and whether she can lawfully do this
without the consent of Parliament as a whole... she needs our
prayers, I reckon, even if we wouldn’t dream of voting for either
her or her party!
of us whose Christianity is more like Martha’s will want to get
involved in many different ways; those of us who are like Mary will
want to spend time in prayer and perhaps even fasting for this
country we call home.
don’t know the future; but we do know the One who holds the future
in his hands. We may long and long for a word that doesn’t come,
but we know that we have not been abandoned. We know that we may sit
at His feet and drink of His word, and we may, must and will trust
Him for tomorrow. Amen.
Welcome! I am a Methodist Local Preacher, and preach roughly once a month, or thereabouts. If you wish to take a RSS feed, or become a follower, so that you know when a new sermon has been uploaded, please feel free to do so.
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