10th Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 32

13th February 2011 0 By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May every thought and every word be graciously received for the Glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

Introduction

Well – Have you caught eclipsemania yet?
Only 3 days to go to – “a unique event in the solar system”

last witnessed in this country in 1927 – we are told – its something not to be missed – because there won’t be another one in Britain until 2090

trouble is we can’t look at it – in case we damage our eyes –
If we do chance a glance – we run the risk of getting blurred vision

but – how good is our eyesight anyway – do we really see things that well?

As Christians – do we see God working – in the things we do and the people we know and meet – can we recognise God’s influence in the events taking place in our community and our country –

Our two readings give us examples of people who can see – and people who can’t – those who recognise and respond to God’s wishes – and those who remain in the dark –

We are going to look at them to see if it helps us understand how good our vision really is – and how we should respond

Point 1 How good are we at seeing?

Our OT reading gives us an account of how Solomon’s kingdom breaks up after his death

towards the end of Solomon’s reign he compromised his beliefs – and dependence on God – and imposed heavy taxes and hardship on the people – to fund his lavish court expenditiure –

this undermined his influence and authority – and fueled old rivalries between the 10 tribes

his son – Rehoboam would have expected to rule over the whole of the kingdom – and his purpose of going to Shechem was to be recognised as king by the northern tribes –

– but instead of receiving their allegiance – he was presented with a question – would he continue his father’s policy of imposing heavy burdensome taxes on the people – or would He lighten their load?

In return they would serve Him –

instead of using the opportunity to rebuild the damaged kingdom – and show true understanding of authority and kingship – he took the advice of his contempries – and responded by saying that “he would make their yoke even heavier”

The result was an immediate revolt against David’s dynasty – and Rehaboam had to flee for his life to Jerusalem –

The writer of Kings doesn’t condone the foolishness of Rehoboam or the revolutionary tribes of the north – but suggests that all these things occurred to bring about divine punishment on the house of Solomon.

The north and south tribes had only been truly united under their common alliegence to David – because God had chosen and equipped him – and his continued rule was only valid as long as he lived up to the responsibility that that involved –

Rehoboam’s reign lasted 17 years – it was at a time of weakness – having tried to be strong at first – with the the northern kingdom – he allowed idoltrous worship to take place in Judah without intervening – and suffered attacks on his boarders from Egypt – but towards the end of his reign he and his people – did repent – and so the kingdom was spared –

God reveals Himself and His power to us in many ways – He presents us with opportunities for renewal and asks us to respond –

The elders could see what was needed – but the king was blind to what was going on around him – he believed like his father that he was strong enough – on his own – without God – to carry the situation

Point 2

The people of Lystra in our NT lesson didn’t fair much better –

Paul and Barnabas – had just been to Antioch and Iconian – and preached in their synagogues – and this resulted in large numbers of Jews and Gentiles being converted – but some of the unconverted Jews agitated violence among city leaders and the two had to flee for their lives –

At Lystra however – the pattern was different – Luke tells us that – Paul looked into the eyes of a crippled man – and could see that he had faith to be cured – and Paul healed him –

when the Lystrians saw this – they assumed that Paul and Barnabas were divine visitations of Hermes and Zeus – reflections of their own God’s –

Paul’s miracle was therefore completely misunderstood – and when the Lystrians made preparations for a pagan sacrifice – Paul and Barnabas protested fervenently – and only just managed to stop them

this however wasn’t the end of the problem – the antagonised Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and turned the Lystrians against them and made them targets for violent assaults – although previously worshipped as messengers of the immortals – they were now set upon – and Paul was stoned and left for dead –

How easy it would have been for Paul and Barnabas to have kept quiet – and let them carry out their pagan sacrifice – to have accepted that they were a lost cause and said nothing – and gone on to the next town –

As disciples of Christ we are called to witness to others – to tell of what we see and know – about God and His promise of salvation –

In Matthew chp 5 v 14-16
Jesus said “ You are the light of the world ….. like the lamp, you must shed light among your fellows – so that when they see the good you do – they may give praise to your Father in Heaven”

Seeing and responding to things from God’s perspective is not easy – its a journey of trial and triumph – trial from physical, spiritual and human opposition and triumph at seeing the results of God’s power in action – knowing that despite all the difficulties – we encounter – God’s power will overcome all before it –

Where ever the Apostles went – action swirled – and riots erupted – but a small church took root –

and this first missionary thrust into the Roman world was seen by the church – as a great triumph of faith and blessings from God –

Point 3

So what about us – how would we have seen things in these situations? –

would we have taken the elders advice – broken away from our comfortable lifestyle – to be a servant to others –

would we have seen things differently at Lystra – and not try to conform the situation into a mould – that we would feel more comfortable with –

but – as we see from both these readings – its not just the seeing that is important its the response that goes with it – Rehaboam didn’t respond nor did the people of Lystra – but Paul and Barnabas did

As Christians we know that something unique happens to us when we respond to God’s will – When we repent of our sins – and receive Jesus as our saviour – we are set free and given eternal life – and have fellowship with God –

we become part of His church – and together we make up Christ’s body in this world – just as the Apostles saw God’s love in Jesus – so others need to see God’s love in us –

all around us people are looking for the answers that God can provide – even when we come to faith our search does not end – because of our haziness and lack of commitment – it takes us a long time to become what we want to be – and even longer to become the person God wants us to be –

Jesus calls us to look more deeply into things – to look at our problems differently in the light of our faith – to look for the deeper meaning that God&rsq
uo;s love can bring to all our experiences – and to show His love to the world through our faith and obedience to Him –

The world does not want to be told about Christ –

– it must be shown –

Jesus showed us the Father’s love through service and obedience and by dying for us –

As His followers we must show Jesus to the world – by the way we live – and respond to Him –

Ending

So when it comes to looking up at Sun’s which one would you sooner look up at –

one that blurs your vision – or one that extends it and opens up new beginnings and horizons –

when the moon casts its shadow over us on Wednesday – will the Lord’s light be shinning through you – on others – or will you really be in the dark –

To see Jesus people don’t need any special glasses

we are the means by which Jesus reveals Himself to those who look His way –

Patrick Moore describes the eclipse as “ the most magnificent sight in all nature” –

As Christians – we are called by God to show others that “Jesus is the most magnificent sight in all eternity”

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit

AMEN