Feast of St Simon and St Jude – Sermon 218

Feast of St Simon and St Jude

10am Holy Communion CW

28th October 2012

Bible References :

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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

 

You might think – on this Feast day of Simon and Jude – that one or both of their names would appear in the collect – or in the readings for the day

 

But there’s no mention of either – the guests of honour as it were – are absent from their own party

 

This might be – something to do – with an uncertainty over their identity –  or because of a lack of information on what they achieved –  or both –

 

Whatever the reason – what is known is that – they were both Apostles – and received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost –  and played an important part in spreading the gospel message far and wide –  after Jesus’ death –

 

Point 1

 

There are nine people in the NT with the name Simon–John’s Gospel calls our Simon –‘Simon the Cananean’ or ‘Simon the Zealot’–to distinguish him from ‘Simon Peter’-a bit like calling him ‘James the butcher’–or ‘Peter the chemist’

 

The use of the word ‘Zealot’ doesn’t necessarily mean he was a former member of the Jewish faction of Zealots – it could just mean – he was the ‘zealous one’- an ardent observer of the faith –

 

Jude or Judas – is another name in which people might get easily mixed up with someone more famous – or in this case infamous –  within the group –  so his original name Judas was shortened to Jude.

 

John’s Gospel describes Jude as Judas, not Iscariot’ – to avoid any confusion –

There is also a letter to Jude – at the very end of the letters section of the NT – although it is not certain that this is from Jude the Apostle –

 

Jude’s letter is in the style of a teacher warning his pupils of troublemakers in the church and of mortal dangers that lie ahead.

 

It refers to Jude as the brother of James – and half-brother to Jesus – that he May have been one of Jesus’ cousins – legend suggests he may have been born in Ceasaera Phillipi and his parents Cleopas and Mary, sister to the Mother of Jesus –

 

Luke describes Jude twice as Judas son of James – and Matthew and Mark – again to avoid any confusion with Judas Iscariot – gives him another name –  Thaddaeus –

 

So a lot of Simons and a lot of Judas’ hence the uncertainty about which one we are honouring –

 

And tradition – like the names – also doesn’t give us a clear answer about what they actually did –

 

Western Tradition suggests Simon preached in Mauretania –  an area approximately the size of present day north west Africa and Spain – and then in Egypt and Lybia – and joined Jude in Persia – modern day Iran – where they worked and died together –

 

Jude preached the Gospel in Judea Samaria, Syria and Mesopotania and is said to have visited Edessa in Greece and Beirut where he was martyred with Simon in 65AD.

 

Simon is supposed to have been martyred by a ‘curved sword’ and then sawn in half –  and Jude by a ‘club’

 

The stained glass windows at Chester Cathedral – shows Simon and Jude together – in one window – Simon is portrayed holding a saw –and Jude with a book and a carpenter’s rule – equating him to the authorship of the letter of Jude

 

The traditional date for their death is 1st July  –  but the choice of their feast day – today – and the reason for them being paired together – was because the remains or relics were brought to St Peter’s in Rome –  on this same day –

 

Point 2

 

So that’s the Saints – what about our readings?

 

How relevant are they in helping us understand about these Saints –

 

In our Gospel reading – Jesus speaks to the twelve -including Simon and Jude – after His Last Supper

 

He has already told them that they must love one another – as He loves them –  that as they give themselves to Jesus – they must also give themselves to each other –

 

They must stick together – because the world outside will hate them – just as they hated Jesus –

 

They must become a community of love – in Jesus –meeting with and sharing and worshiping – with other Christians –

 

Paul gives a similar picture – describing us as God’s building – with Jesus its cornerstone –

 

The cornerstone is the first key stone that is laid – and it’s the stone which becomes the reference point for all the other stones in the building –

 

Our reading from Isaiah described the laying of the cornerstone:

 

‘I am laying in Zion a foundation stone

A tested stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.

One who trusts will not panic’

 

Our churches and Cathedrals have been constructed over many centuries – and contain many types of architecture – a Roman pillar, a Saxon crib, a Norman arch or early English and Gothic decorations – Some of it has been added in our own lifetimes –

 

But the building is in unity because through it all – and in it all – it has been used for the worship of God – and for meeting with Jesus Christ –

 

God’s church is based on ‘the cornerstone that the builders rejected’ – on the death and resurrection of Jesus its founder – and the testimony of all those that follow Him are important building blocks in the churches foundation –

 

Point 3

 

Saints survived in the Church of England through the 16th and 17th centuries – because the reformers saw them as useful role models – for the instruction of the faithful –

 

According to this standard – these two saints might appear less than fit for purpose –

 

No recorded feats of endurance –  no wise words of counsel – no selfless example that might shape our lives of faith – yet if we honour only those who are of use to us –  and celebrate the people who add value to our existence  –  then we do not see humanity as God sees it –

 

We are all stones that make up God’s church – we have rough edges –  are all shapes sizes – every individual comes to God is a different way –  yet under the skill of the master craftsman we are transformed –  and pieced together to build a house – that is firm and secure –  long lasting And beautiful –

 

Through God’s grace we have all been brought near – because of our faith in Jesus as Saviour and redeemer – on Him the whole structure of the church depends – and through Him we can all grow into a holy temple of the Lord –

 

Simon and Jude were faithful followers of Jesus – they devoted their lives to Him – they are remembered because they were part of the Apostles movement that spread the Gospel far and wide –

 

Ending

 

As our collect reminds us – God builds the church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets  – with Jesus Christ Himself as the Chief Cornerstone- and together we make up God’s Holy Temple –

 

Jesus is here – and so are Simon and Jude as two of the foundation stones –

 

And for us – like Simon and Jude  – there can be no greater honour-

 

Prayer to finish

 

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

AMEN