Second Sunday before Advent – Sermon 248

Second Sunday before Advent

10.00am Holy Communion

16th November 2014

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

 

“In a world where bad deeds are celebrated

And good deeds relegated

Where first place goes to push and shove

And the cost of things is put above

The cost of time together

From time to time, the best of us

Reach out and touch the rest of us”

 

Too often – today – in the media – and on our televisions we hear of the bad things that happen around us –

 

money and things become more important than people – and friends

 

Occasionally there is a bright light that shines through –

 

but more often than not  – this soon gives way to talk of war and violence of groups like Isis, and the greed of people who have power over others – and people’s livelihoods-

 

Point 1        We are children of the Light

 

Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians describes the world as living in darkness – asleep to the saving power and love – of Jesus Christ

 

His opening remarks echo the warnings of Jesus Himself – to stay awake – warning of forthcoming events – that would arrive like a thief in the night

 

As followers of Jesus – Paul tells us that – we are daytime people – who need to stay alert to God’s presence and will for us

 

I recently travelled to China – and because of the time difference – found myself waking up at 4am  morning – for the first week –

 

Staying awake while others sleep was not so difficult in that situation –

 

But Paul’s warning is about being ready to respond – whenever we are needed – whatever the time of day or night

 

And as children of light – must put away night time habits – and be careful in what we do – and say –

 

Our task is to inspire and encourage others – in becoming part of the Kingdom – by showing the fruits of the Spirit –

 

Encouragement has a great power to strengthen and spur others on – to motivate and regenerate – and it must be part of our everyday conversations – and actions –

 

Those who hide the truth – and their gifts from others – thinking of their own gain – act like people of darkness –

 

We need to be children of the light using our gifts to reach out to others – helping them become part of the Kingdom –

 

Point 2        Beware Complacency

 

Paul warns us too – about being complacent – accepting what others says – rather than what God says –

 

In the passage he refers to propaganda ‘about peace and security’ being put out by the Roman Authorities – who claim that all will be well – and that people should continue as they have been doing –

 

But Paul tells them that the Romans are wrong – and a catastrophe is just around the corner – In fact within 20 years – as Paul predicts – the Roman Empire would fall –

 

Judgement and complacency is also the theme of our Old testament Lesson – where Zephaniah predicts a storm on the horizon – for those who are disobedient

He warns of God – searching out with lamps – and punishing those in Jerusalem – ‘who rest complacency on their dregs’ –

 

Complacency – lowers our determination – our expectation – and behaviour – lowers our relationship with God –

 

None of us like to move out of our comfort zone – but – as children of God – but we must realize that we cannot enjoy the freedom given to by Jesus – without accepting the responsibility – that goes with it –

 

Both Zephania and Paul urge us to turn back to God – and to stay awake to God’s presence – putting on God’s armour for protection-

 

As children of the light we have God’s gifts for our protection and strength – the Breastplate of faith to ward off frontal attacks – and the helmet of hope of salvation – protecting our head –

 

Underneath it all we have God’s action through Jesus – who died for us – and rose again – as our main defense against all that the dark world can throw against us –

We are the life of the new world – breaking into the old – and we belong to the new world – not the old –

 

Today we need to hold fast in faith – to the gospel message which will provide us with all the comfort and strength and power that we need – to fulfil God’s purpose for us –

 

Point 3        Parable of the Talents

 

Which leads us on to our Gospel reading and Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Talents’

 

At first sight this might seem a hard parable to follow – almost like an examination test –

 

That like the slaves – we too will be given things to do – work to complete – rules to keep – and if we don’t pass the test – we will be judged accordingly

 

But this is far from the truth –

 

Jesus has come to save sinners and tax collectors – to call the lost – not to condemn them –

 

The parable is not about us having to pass a test

 

It is in fact – a look back at the testimonies of the Pharisees and the Saducees – who misused the information provided to them by God – and it is a reminder of their mistakes – and a warning for us not to repeat them –

 

They had been given the Law of Moses – and the Temple – the sign of God’s presence among them

 

They had been given wonderful promises of how God would bless – not only Israel but through Israel the whole world –

 

But they had buried that knowledge – like an Ostrich – that buries its head in the sand –

 

They had turned the command to be the light of the world – into an encouragement to keep the light for themselves –

 

Jesus denounces the Pharisees and Saducees – by likening them to the wicked servant who hid his master’s money –

 

They had been worthless slaves and now when their master was at last coming back – he was going to call them to account –

 

The threatened destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was to be seen as the master’s punishment on the servants who had not done His will –

 

But the parable also talks about the good servants – those who hear the call of Jesus – and develop what Israel has already been given – and turns it into something new –

 

They are like the mustard seed which starts small – and grows into something large –

 

Jesus longs for us to be like the first two servants – to use the gifts we have been given wisely – multiplying their effects to bring others to the Kingdom –

 

And yes – in line with the whole New Testament – Jesus will sift – and weigh everything up – that Christians do – for Him –

 

But we must also remember too – that He came as a perfect expression of God’s love – and gave His life – as a ransome for us – So His prime motivation is to save us – not to test us –

 

The promise that Jesus does make to us – is that – if we have faith – and stay loyal to Him – we will be rewarded and receive salvation – we will become His children – and join Him in the kingdom of light –

 

Ending

 

So as children of the daylight – we need to stay alert to God’s wishes – and “Encourage one another” – in God’s work – just as Jesus encourages us –

 

What we do with what we have reveals our view of God – who calls us to use our gifts wisely and in support of His Kingdom –

 

In the words of the poem – we are called to be the best – that reaches out to touch the rest –

 

To be the faithful servants who help Jesus’ bright light shine through – and change the world forever

 

Prayer                  AMEN