SERMON REFLECTION FOR BIBLE on SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER, 2020

Readings: Colossians chapter 3. v. 12 - 17

Matthew chapter 24. v. 30 - 35

Are you a Dr Who fan? The Doctor is a bit like marmite; you either love him or loath him. And who is your favourite Doctor? There has been many. David Tennant was a recent favourite and the other night my son was watching one of the episodes he starred in. Of course the Doctor is a time traveller; he is as old as time itself and as such, he is not constrained by time. Which is a bit like God is for us Christians too. The doctor travels through time to rescue people and, sometimes other life forms. Also, sometimes, he comes from a direct call from an individual human - from a person in distress, though they don't always know who they are calling out to. For the doctor has a soft spot for us humans. Again, it's a bit like God sending to us his one and only Son, to rescue and save us; travelling through time and space, to appear as one of us [ just like the Doctor ] to find a way out of our conundrum. I suppose, even none directly, the Christian influence inspires many fictional stories. Anyway, in this episode that my son was watching, the doctor and his assistant Rose Tyler, come to help some humans stranded aboard a stricken space vessel. I'm not going to bore you with the finer points of the story except to say, that, one of the crew is seen holding some broken pieces of ancient pottery which has letters written all over it. All of a sudden, as he is touching and holding the pieces, the written letters, traverse to his body and are visible written upon his skin; his face, a bit like tattoos. He had become the language of the ancient pottery of history in himself.

I tell this story, because today, is bible Sunday, the day in the Christian calendar, when we celebrate and give thanks for God's holy book: the greatest book ever written. We should celebrate this fact, because the bible is God's chief way of communicating with us human beings and has stood the test of time. It is God's written account of his dealings with the human race and of the sending of his Son, through time and eternity, to save us. The bible is the best selling book of all time and continues to illuminate the human race. If this race reads it. Sadly, in our western society, this is a declining activity, and even among people who regularly attend church, it is not a priority.

People often say to me, 'If only l could see God,' or, 'if only he would speak directly to me, give me a sign.' But, they forget [ or have been blinded to the fact ], that God has left us a written account of his activities; it's there to be read. However, nothing beats, actually seeing and touching a person. But God has done this for us also, the bible reveals, by sending his Son, dressed as a human being, to teach us about God and, of course, die for us, in order to save us. The world too, is his visible art work; so what more could God do?

Actually, the bible is not just one book, it is a library of books : 66 in all, 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT. There is something in this book for everyone. There is much to enthral and speak to a medical doctor, to a teacher, a soldier, a carpenter and stone worker; a politician and a home maker; a child and adult alike. There are adventures too, super human fetes of courage and bravery; tails of love and betrayal, of everyday life and faithfulness and faithlessness; of a new religion being born, and, of course, it shows that God is intimately involved in it all, from day one to the the last one recorded and the next one, yet unrecorded; for, through his Holy Spirit, He is still writing his book; it is not yet completed; it has a sequel, that is being written now, through you and me, everyone.

For, in a real sense, we, are God's written scriptures also - stories being told. His message and interaction with the human race, did not stop with the early church; it lives on in each of us. The story continues to unfold. We are God's Good Book, a living history book, for, if people are not interested in reading the printed or digital word today, than the only way [ and in fact best way ] is through us; each of us. For, we all tell and have a story to reveal. We all have a history to share; adventures to relay, wisdom to impart, truths to be told. We have a message just as interesting as the stories of old; of how God does live; of how he can be found; of how he leads and guides; of how he inspires and teaches.

There is a fascination today, to have tattoos indelibly imprinted upon our bodies: some show names, pictures or quote phrases. But the message that should be clearly imprinted upon the Christian and visible to all, that of love, forgiveness and tolerance, should be written on our faces, revealed in our smiles and imprinted upon our hands in gestures of acceptance and in our hearts dedicated to Jesus. This message should be clear to all who meet us and engage with us. It should be a message, that Jesus LIVES. So, Dr. Who travels through time in a Tardis. Jesus, comes to us through time and space, through his Spirit, through prayer and the reading of the bible. He is to us, as real as he was to the people of yesterday. Let us thank God for that and his Good Book that traverses time, cultures and mind sets and that has the power to break down all that divides. Amen

Bryan

COLLECT:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

NEXT WEEK: ALL SAINTS - MORNING PRAYER, 10.30

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SERMON REFLECTION FOR LUKE THE EVANGELIST.

Readings: Luke chapter 1.v. 1 - 4 Acts chapter 1. v. 1 - 11

The four Gospels are the crux of the New Testament, with many people, at least able to quote one of the writers. But, which of the four is your favourite gospel and, have you one verse that you can remember? For today is a special day: it is the feast day of Luke the Evangelist. The Luke who wrote, arguably, the finest of all the four gospels. He is an evangelist [ someone who spreads the message of Jesus, Christianity ] because he wrote his gospel for a particular person: Theophilus. '' it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.'' Because of the introduction 'most excellent Theophilus,' Theophilus was probably a high ranking Roman official. So Luke was writing to convince a very important government minister that Jesus was who he said he was. Just imagine the influence this important government minister could have upon others in the very heart of the Roman empire if he became a Christian believer? What a witness that would be and how it would effect life for many around him and under his governance. So, Luke was careful in his preparation, writing and historical research. As you may know, Luke was a gentile doctor. Now doctors have to have two important skills: keen observation and the ability to listen well. [ and record their observations well ] So, Luke observed the new Christians at work and he listened attentively to their stories and accounts of Jesus. He would be scientifically minded too, so he would want and look for empirical truths. But, Luke also writes for a particular audience, the Gentiles, of which he and Theophilus were; in other words not Jewish. As such, he wrote in a particular style and with a particular emphasis. He wrote in Greek, not Hebrew, as Greek was the universal language of the day, a bit like English is today, and the one the Gentiles would most easily understand. Interestingly, when the four Gospel writers are depicted in our church stained glass windows, they are often shown with a symbol by their side. Matthew is seen with a Lion, as he wrote his gospel for the Jewish people and he wanted to emphasis Jesus's jewish roots; the Lion was the symbol of the largest Jewish tribe - Judah. Mark is depicted with a man, because his gospel is the briefest and simplest, often written in a journalistic way, is easy for any person [ man ] to read. John is revealed with an eagle by his side, as John is a higher, more spiritual and reflective account of Jesus' life; one born of deep thinking and maturity. Lastly, Luke is seen with a calf by his side, as Luke's gospel stresses that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of God for the whole world, Jews and none Jews. He empathises Jesus 's compassion and care for all people of whatever race. But Luke is also an erudite man. William Barclay says, that the first four verses in Luke's gospel are written in the finest Greek of all the New Testament. We can also be sure that his source is accurate too. For Luke was St Paul's travelling companion and as such, he would have been introduced to all the key players in Jesus's life; people who ventured with Jesus and who saw his miracles and heard first hands his words. We can trust his verses as a true and accurate account of Jesus's life. Luke's gospel has, unlike perhaps the others, a certain charm and appeal about it. It does highlight Jesus's love, care, compassion and patience; the a friend of the lowly, the outcast and marginalised. A saviour for all people. It has been said, that it is the gospel of prayer; for in it Luke shows, Jesus retreating to pray most often, particularly before the important decisions of his life. It too, has been referred to, as the gospel for women; for in his gospel, Luke describes Jesus's interactions with women in a most positive way. He gives special mention to the role women played in supporting his ministry, and he tells the birth narrative from Mary's point of view. Luke recalls the woman anointing Jesus's feet with expensive oil and he paints a vivid picture of Mary and Martha and of Mary Magdalene. It is also the gospel of praise, that has recorded for posterity the magnificent ' Magnificat,' the ' Benedictus' and the 'Nunct Dimittis,' that radiates God's glory and that has been a mainstay of the church's liturgy for centuries. And, this gospel alone tells, perhaps the most famous parable of all; ' The Good Samaritan,' as well as the Leper who returns to give thanks to Jesus, he too was a Samaritan, thus emphasising Luke reaching out to the Gentile races. So, if someone came to you, who having never read the bible before and who wanted to know where to get started in the book, what would you recommend? There can be no better place to begin than in the Gospel of Luke. It is still the most charming and effecting of the gospels, and just as enthralling some two thousand or so years since it was first written.

The work of a true evangelist indeed.

Bryan

Collect:

Almighty God, who called Luke the physician, whose praise is in the gospel, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: by the grace of the Spirit and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, give your church the same love and power to heal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Next weeks service is a Holy Communion