12th Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 149

13th February 2011 0 By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

Introduction 

Sundays – the Sabbath!-Our day of rest-

So – what should we be doing today?

Coming to church – and worshipping God – is always a good answer

Anything else?

It’s a day off work – so should we be resting? – enjoying some form of recreation –
Visiting friends or family?

In our Gospel reading – Jesus was taking part in a public service – and doing good to all within His reach! – is that what we should be doing?

Lets see if our readings can help

 

 
Point 1      Isaiah

The passage from Isaiah – is part of a poem – that stretches through the whole of chapter 58 –
And was witten to inspire the exiles returning from Babylon into a deeper faithfulness to the covenant tradition –

it deals with the kind of service that pleases God –

If you cease to pervert justice
If you give your own food to the poor
And satisfy the needs of the Wretched –
If you set the Sabbath day – apart and honour it as God’s
The light will rise for you out of darkness
The Lord will be your guide – continually – and satisfy your needs in the bare desert
You will be like a well-watered garden
Like a spring whose waters never fail-

In Isaiah’s time the people believed – that only –worship and sacrifice – was important – and after that they could do what they liked –

what they hadn’t understood – was that God doesn’t just want our rituals – He wants every part of us – and looks – to see righteousness – justice and service – in all the things that we do –

He wants us to touch broken lives – to bring gladness to someone whose pleasures are few – to do something today – that tomorrow – will prove to be worthwhile –

To discover that – its – only through kindness – service and giving – that we learn about the joy – of living – and finding heaven’s happiness here – on earth –

Someone once said – that – there are two kinds of people – those who lift – and those who lean – We are not called to lean – but to help lift the burden off sinners in need –

Isaiah also reminds us – of the importance of keeping the Sabbath – Holy – many places are now open 24/7 –and – achieving a balance between – our social life and worship – especially for families with young children – is a real challenge –

But keeping Sunday Holy is not just about following – OT truths – its about putting – God’s wishes and work first – declaring that we – are dependent on God – and following His agenda –

God rewards those who seek Him and live by faith
And as Christians – our ultimate goal is to win others to Christ –

Jesus calls us to love our enemies – to go out into the world – and bring them to Him – the reward for friendship – is friendship – the reward for following and obeying Jesus’ commands – is eternal

  

Point 2           Jesus teachings

In our Gospel reading – Jesus is preaching in the Synagogue – this is the last time we read about Him doing this – before His death –

The authorities were watching His every move – waiting to pounce whenever they get the chance –

A woman crippled for 18 years – approaches Jesus and He heals her – and she gives thanks and praises God –

But the president of the Synagogue who doesn’t have the courage to confront Jesus directly – protests to the crowd – accuses Jesus of breaking the Commandments

As far as the Jewish Authorities were concerned – because the woman’s afflictions were not life threatening – Jesus’ act of healing was classed as working – on the Sabbath –

It may sound silly to us today – but in Jesus’ time – it was a real issue –

To avoid breaking the commandments – the Pharisees had fenced around them – more severe rules – a sort of belt and brazes approach – so that in their view – it was impossible for the people to commit a sin –

It must have sounded like a good idea at first – but over a period of time – they had lost sight of God’s original intentions – and substituted their – own

Jesus seized on one particular example –

The Rabbis hated – cruelty to dumb – animals – and in order to avoid hardship on the animals on the Sabbath – they made it legal to free animals from their stalls – and to water them – but no such concession was given to the people –

Jesus accused them – of double standards – abiding by the spirit of the law for animals but by the letter of the law for people –

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness – and self control – against such things there is no law – and – these should take priority –

Instead of reacting as he did the leader should have rejoiced in the woman’s good fortune –

the basis of our Christian experience is love – and we must not set up out own Sabbath prejudices – to smother it –

The love that Jesus demonstrates – is the love that makes a difference – the love that heals – and has the power to change and transform people’s lives –

The woman’s physical condition – is a graphic reminder of our own spiritual condition – like her – we are bent over with sin – and are – in need of straightening – And Jesus has brought a special healing from God to make us whole again –

Our response should be to receive all that He has to give – to praise God – and enjoy a fullness of life that only He can offer –

 

 
Point 3         Hebrews – What does it mean for us? –

And so to our NT reading –

The Book of Hebrews is perhaps the only book in the New Testament – that provides us with an answer – to the question – why go to church?

The truth is – we go to church for all sorts of reasons – and they are not always the right ones –
Listen to this short poem –

Some go the church for a walk-
Some go there for a laugh and talk-
Some go to gain a lover –
Some go – their faults to cover –
Some go for observation –
Some go for speculation
Some go to sleep and nod –
Some (a few) go there to worship God –

But as the writer of the Hebrews tells us – when we do go – for whatever reason – we open ourselves up to a fantastic opportunity –

Because – through our worship we get to meet and speak and sing – with God – and His heavenly Hosts –

its not to the tangible blazing fire of Sinai – the mountain of fear – that we have come – but to mount Zion – the mountain of grace – the city of the living god –

The early Israelites had to go – through a tremendous ordeal – just to get close to God – but because of what Jesus has done for us – we can – communicate with Him directly – here in this church – in this service – through our prayers and our praise –

We come as sinners failing to live up to God’s standard – but we know – that Jesus ‘ blood has washed our sins away – that His death and resurrection is all we need for salvation-

Someone once compared our lives to living – a narrow road – lined with high buildings – with only a strip of blue sky above – the blue sky is our link with God – and amid the activity – and distractions of everyday living – we sometimes – see it for only a few moments – each day – each week –

But that time looking up is important – We need our time of worship together – without it – we can lose touch with the great shepherd –
without it – if we are not careful – we can begin to doubt that the blue sky- exits at all –

God has given us a great example in Jesus Christ –
And through Jesus – has built a kingdom – that cannot be shaken – because of Jesus – our future is secure – because of Jesus – our fears are taken away – we have a great – stability and security – that no one else can provide –

 

Ending

Jesus shows us that people in need – matter- that the ministry of the church – is not to conform but to become salt and light –

The church is a heavenly Jerusalem – a city of the living God – alive with His presence – and a gate way that others can pass through –

Sundays – is not just a time to come to church – it’s a time – to be the church –

For the sake of those who need Jesus – Lets be a church – not just on Sundays – but everyday –

 

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit –

AMEN