Sermon for Sunday 6th November 2011

Revd Jan KeartonSermon for Sunday 6th November 2011

Given by Revd Jan Kearton

John Pridmore, the retired priest and theologian, went to the Baptist Church as a child. In the very plain church there wasn’t much to look at during the service except the wooden table carved with the words ‘till he come’. In the Green Howards Chapel in Richmond church the altar is carved with the word ‘resurgam’ - ‘I shall rise again’. And in Germany I found an altar that was carved with a series of receding arches on the front, arches stretching way into the distance. It really didn’t need any words. All of those three places where the Eucharist is celebrated say the same thing - Christianity is a waiting game.

The people that Amos lived among were waiting, waiting for God to deal with their enemies decisively, waiting for victory, for God to crush their enemies. Stanley Hauerwas describes them as practicing religion on an industrial scale, more festivals and more frequently, more and more slaughter of beasts, the singing of more and more worship songs, any and everything was done that could be done to rouse God to act, now.

Amos doesn’t mince his words.  Industrial scale God-bothering is no substitute for a right heart. Real relationship with God demands real relationships with God’s people. If we really do love God then we’ll long for the healing of our broken relationships with God and others, not for destruction.  It’s not about getting the things we’re waiting for, it’s about how we live while we’re waiting. The Day of the Lord will come and it will bring judgment with it - that certainty should shape the way we live now. Divorcing religion from morality like the is not only a waste of time, it’s offensive to God. We should be careful that we’re ready to face the things that we pray for. Just hold that thought as we pray together this morning ‘thy kingdom come’.

Paul‘s community were waiting for the coming of Jesus. Some of the church members had died and that wasn’t expected to happen before Jesus returned. The small church in Thessalonica was confused and grief-stricken. Paul reminded them that, since the resurrection, grief is misplaced if it isn’t joined with hope. The dead are resting, but they will rise. Life can be difficult to understand, we can feel bewildered and saddened by some of our experiences that test our faith. Real faith is encouraged by those who were faithful to the end, it takes fresh courage as it remembers the promises of God, it regularly practices its belief in the resurrection of Christ as it receives Christ in the Eucharist and it knows that it’s hope is realistic. While we wait, we’re to encourage each other to live together in hope and trust.

Jesus tells his disciples about the women with the lamps. Half are prepared for the things they’ve prayed for, half are not. We can’t borrow preparation from others - either we’re prepared or we’re not. Either way, Jesus the bridegroom will come when we’re not expecting him and then what will we do? Rushing around at the last minute isn’t a good strategy when time’s already run out. Our preparation needs to be good enough to see us through a long period of waiting from which we emerge ready.     

The parable of the 10 bridesmaids

We too live in the times between the resurrection and the parousia, between Jesus’ rising from the dead and the Day of the Lord when he will come again. In that time between, Jesus has taught us that our daily prayer should be ‘thy kingdom come’. He’s alerted us to the need to be ready for the things we pray for. Those three altars each in their own way spoke about Christianity as a waiting game and their message to those who can read it is as loud as Amos’s.

Waiting doesn’t matter - how we wait matters a great deal. To be together in confession, absolution, praise, thanksgiving and prayer matters. To have a living relationship with the Bridegroom himself in bread and wine matters. To be sent out to bring others into relationship with God matters. To keep faith with God by acting justly, ethically, morally, honestly and to speak the truth matters. Responsibility and accountability are the heart of Christian waiting.

So as Advent appears on the horizon, may God help us to hear in these texts his call that rings down the centuries to us - ‘I will come again on a day when you don’t expect me. Be ready to give an account of yourself. Stay awake while you wait, and complete your preparation while there is still time.’

May the Lord when he comes find each of us watching, waiting and well-prepared to go with him. AMEN.  

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Past Sermons
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Webpage icon Sermon for Sunday 31st July 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 24th July 2011
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Webpage icon Sermon for The Priesting of Tessa Stephens
Webpage icon Sermon - Sunday 19th June 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 22nd May 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 8th May 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon -17th April 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 23rd March 2011
Webpage icon Sermon for Sunday 3rd April 2011
Webpage icon Sunday sermon - 20th March 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 13th March 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 13th February 2011
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