(a sermon preached 18th October)
This is a sermon about WAITING.
We have new Covid Rules, as it happens, for us here there is little change, but for others in the country quite big ones. There’s anxiety regarding finances, employment, health. And we were told to brace ourselves that this is how things are likely to be for the next six months.
So we have this rule of Six, with various exemptions – such as this morning – we are able to meet here, as many as meet safely, so thank you for registering yourself, for cleaning your hands, for your mask wearing. And thank you to those of you who clean up tomorrow – esp Heather. What we’re doing is our best to be as welcoming and inclusive as we can.
So we turn to our bibles to see if we might find any guidance, any comfort, or challenge. And that’s why we have these bible readings.
Today – is St Luke’s day – hence the Red, for a Saints Day. We are grateful to St Luke for writing the Gospel in his name and the sequel.
Its great that he gets to be a Saint – because as far as we know he was never a vicar, never a monk, never planted a Church, never did any miracles, never got martyred – I don’t know how or when St Luke died.
All he did was carefully write out what happened. What Jesus did and said, and what happened next.
So thank you to St Luke.
And it gives us a special day to give thanks to all of you care for, pray for, support the mission and worship over at St Luke’s.
Its really important that we help our sister Church to thrive – because if it does then so do we. For example – We are working at getting Wifi into St Luke’s.
Working together, blessing each other. Well done, keep at it.
IN the Gospel reading you see two enemies working together – the Pharisees and Herodians – they hate each other but have found a common cause in killing Jesus. And so they concoct this cunning plan.
Or As Admiral Akbar would say – It’s a Trap!
Contrast that approach with the Church family in Thessalonica – in 1st Thessalonians. .
Here we read of a community of Christians who show faith and love and hope in the way that they live in their community, treat others, even those who hate them.
I’d like you to pick up on the transforming power of a relationship with Jesus. Having Jesus in our lives is supposed to change us, to slowly make us more into the person that God has made us to be.
I was given a tour of Annecy Roman Catholic Primary school last week. It’s the only faith school in town (?). I was really impressed with the quiet gentle way in which their faith underpins the values and behaviour they expect in the children. Good for them, that’s laying a foundation.
But it’s a little harder for us, how do I keep allowing God to change me, grow me, develop me?
Sometimes we need to get to an uncomfortable place where we really have to lean on God and trust in his unfailing love. And that is really where we are.
We are waiting. I’m not always sure what we’re waiting for. Waiting for things to go back to normal, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for my boat to come in, for a change of luck, for those Test results, waiting.
Some of us are good at it. I am not very good at it.
The first Christians were waiting for something massive, they were waiting for the Return of Jesus, for the wrapping up of the end of time, for the final judgement. That’s something pretty big to be waiting for.
What’s extra lovely is that in this chapter Paul doesn’t give them any advice he simply encourages them with what it is that they are already doing.
What they are doing is this.
They’re working, they’re getting on with their labour. They’re doing their best to just get through each day, pay their tax, put food on the table, support the local economy – they’re doing their work.
Its really not what you were expecting Paul to say, you were expecting him to say something fantastic, not something so very ordinary like – just get up and carry on with your job as best you can.
They are keeping up the rhythm of life as best they can.
What is extraordinary about it all is that underpinning it all is faith and love and hope and joy, and Holy Spirit and power and deep conviction.
SO they are just getting on with life but with this reservoir of faith and love and hope.
What do I do while I wait – carry on with life – do the work that you have before you – but do it with the help of God, out of his power and his Holy Spirit.
Remember these people are new at being Christians. Most of you have been Christians longer than these people were ever Christians. This does not come easy to them. But when St Paul was with them, they loved him and imitated him.
I find that a bit scary, I’m not sure if you should imitate me. But I know that I have found certain Christians I have known, or read about, Perhaps we could include St Luke here, and me seeing how they lived their life has helped give me courage, helped shape how I live.
Paul says to these new Christians, you’re so good at imitating me, that others are imitating you. Wow.
What’s great about that is that you don’t have to be false and cheesy about it. You don’t have to be falsely happy all the time. There’s been a stupid Christian idea that you’re not allowed to grieve, not allowed to be depressed.
When I preached about counting your blessings – that was about seeing some glimpses of God’s goodness in your life – because it will give you the resilience and the relationship you need in order to pray and protest to God about when life is just awful, tough, dark.
We are waiting. Each of you will be waiting in different ways and for different things. So here’s what I want you to do as we wait. We’ve been given a new horizon of six months of living this new rhythm.
So over these six months, living this rule of six. Here’s what I want you to be doing.
I want you to be praying for Six people. They can be people you see in the Church, New people you don’t know who they are, People you know who are shielding at home. Write the Six out, put it by your toothbrush. Pray for your Six.
I want you to be phoning Six people, each week. One a day. This is partly for you and its partly for them. Together we will journey through these six months. We will do our darndest to make sure no one is forgotten. But the way to do that is not to leave it to the pastoral team to phone everyone but for you to be touch with six other people.
I want you to take a day off. A sabbath rest. To make a point of doing something on that day that’s a bit of a treat, that takes you to a place of recuperation, it might involve ice cream, some exercise. Even if you’re at home, a sabbath is a day of doing things differently. Of caring for yourself. Tuesday is my sabbath. I am really bad at it.
Praying for Six, Phoning Six, taking a sabbath rest.
And where your income is stable – can you increase your giving to the Church by 6%. I still haven’t learned how you do that – I need to talk to Stephen about the Parish Giving Scheme and get myself on that. So that’s my to do for next week.
We’re going to learn to pray for six people.
Phone six people.
Care for yourself.
And if you can, if your income is stable, increase your giving to the Church by another 6%.
If we can do this, then we will learn to wait.
We will fill it with ways that lightens the burdens of others, and brings to us all a little more faith, love and hope.