Monday, 4 March 2013

My First Sermon

The Title of this blog sounds like a child's board book but on the 3rd of March I preached my first sermon.

To give you a little of the context, the Sunday service was one of the last event of a faith sharing weekend I had been on in connection with my degree course.

The parish of Benwell is a diverse and multi cultural parish with three churches in one parish so our team was split up into two's and three's.  The weekend contained many events including coffee mornings, talent shows, a prayer afternoon in a school and messy church.

My sermon was based on Isaiah 55 1-9.  Which was one of the lectionary reading for the day.

Isaiah 55 1-9
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the 
Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendour.”
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the 
Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the 
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Amen        Psalm 19:14

In our Old Testament reading from Isaiah it seems like the prophet is contradicting himself when he says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,    come, buy and eat!  How can anybody who has no money buy and eat!  How can anybody buy Wine and Milk without spending any money? 
Isaiah was prophesying to people in exile, people in the desert He was offering them Life.  Life to people in a desert is water. Water is a basic necessity of Human life, we used it for everything washing, cleaning, and drinking.   Here Isaiah is prophesying that one day the people in exile will not only have the basics but they will have abundant water and not just water.  They will have Luxury they will be able to have Milk and even Wine.

But this still doesn’t make sense how can people with no money buy, eat and drink.  
Isaiah is telling us that God has already paid the price for us.  He is inviting us into an everlasting relationship with him he gives us a life enriching, nourishing words.  Just like he did with David God is now creating that with us.   
Let’s look at this scenario in a modern context.  As an example The prophet is telling us that God won’t just pay our rent for us but he will give us a house to live in forever.  He is telling us that if we put our trust in him, instead of material things that perish and fade away, we may perhaps see a little of God’s purposes and plans for us but we have to trust.

The prophet goes on to say that we need to seek God when he is to be found and just like the little Sketch like some of us did on Friday night.  God is to be found close.  For those of us who weren’t at the show on Friday night the basic story was that a man fed up with his inability to see God in the midst of his surroundings.  Goes on a journey to try and find God only to discover that God was where he started. 
This is what we have tried to show over this weekend that God is here in this parish.  He is working away underneath the surface as the end of the passage of Isaiah says God’s plans “are bigger than ours the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think”.   Many of us me including me have a tendency to put God into a box we try to anticipates God’s plan.  We make God too small instead of allowing him to simply just be.
If we read a little further than today’s lectionary reading we would see that it goes on to say, the word which has been planted shall not be returned to God empty.  So we as a team are hoping that we have helped you this weekend to show you that God is in Benwell and that you as a church are able to water the seed and nurture  it to make it blossom into flower and fruit.

You all have it in you to go and be Christ’s light in your community.  As it says in Matthew 5 “You are the light of the world”.  Even in the darkness one little light can still shine out and break that despair.  Perhaps this weekend has set a little spark glowing and you as a community can fan that spark into a flame.  This flame will then be able to be passed out from this church into Benwell as you show Christ love for each and every one of us. 
There are simple ways of showing God’s Love, 

So we are almost at the end of our weekend with you here in Benwell.  We have had a fantastic talent show, coffee mornings and many other things that have been going on in the other Churches.  For us coming from Theological college this has been brilliant a chance to put into practice what we are learning in lecture halls, The book learning becomes real.  A real way to show you all how to tell your story so that you can bring other people into the fellowship of this Church. 

There are simple ways of showing God’s Love, A friendly smile as you walk down the street and talking to your next door neighbour.   So I set you a challenge each of you do one thing this week  to show God’s love be it small or big it doesn't matter.  What is important is that you start sowing seeds or fanning sparks into life so that Heaven breaks through into this place.

Here I am Lord, Body and soul.
Grant that with your Love
I may be enough
To reach the world
And small enough to be at one with you

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