Category Archives: RCL

Sinners Anonymous

Readings
Romans 7.15–25a
Matthew 11.25–30

How helpful it is to see sin, like addiction, as a disease, a very destructive disease, instead of merely something that was culpable, punishable, or ‘made God unhappy’. If sin indeed made God unhappy, it was because God desires nothing more than our happiness, and wills the healing of our disease. The healing ministry of Jesus should have made that crystal clear; healing was about all that he did, with much of his teaching illustrating the healings — and vice versa. It is rather amazing that this did not remain at the top of all church agendas. — Richard Rohr, Breathing under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

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My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner.

Have you ever been to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous? I have. I went to an AA meeting back in the ’70s as part of my medical studies. In AA, when someone starts to speak, they introduce themselves by name and then say ‘I’m an alcoholic.’ You know, ‘My name is XYZ, and I’m an alcoholic.’

My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner.

Are you shocked that I introduce myself this way? You shouldn’t be.

Everyone is a sinner, and I shouldn’t have to trot out scripture like ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3.23) to prove it. Even ministers have sinned — perhaps especially ministers.

My name is Paul, and I’m a sinner.

I’m not the only ‘Paul’ who’s a sinner. The Apostle Paul was one too. He knew what was good, but that didn’t stop him doing the wrong thing. As he said: 

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7.15)

It sounds just like being an alcoholic, who knows they shouldn’t have that next drink … but well … just one won’t hurt. (Will it?) 

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Take hope; do not be afraid

Reading
Matthew 10.24–39

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Fear isn’t itself good or bad. It’s an emotion that identifies what we love. The quickest way to discover what or whom someone loves is to find out what they are afraid of. We fear because we don’t want to lose what we love.…

… What we think we need is healing. What we truly need is forgiveness and eternal life. Sometimes we get healing; sometimes we don’t. If we get healing in the context of forgiveness in the past and the hope of eternal life in the future, it’s a kind of fulfilment of forgiveness and an anticipation of eternal life. If we get healing in the absence of the things we really need, we may find it pretty much useless. — Samuel Wells, Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear with Faith

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It has been said that we do not read the Bible; the Bible reads us. I often feel that I have been ‘read’ when I read the more difficult parts of Scripture. It’s not easy to be read by a hard text.

It’s certainly not easy to be read by today’s Gospel Reading. It’s no devotional walk in the park. When I looked at it, I thought What to talk about? Do I talk about

— fearing the one who can ‘destroy both soul and body in Gehenna’? Gehenna was a place fearful in Israel’s imagination. There, in ancient times the people of Israel had sacrificed their children to the god Molech. 

Do I talk about

— hearing that ‘whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven’? A scary thought. 

— or hearing Jesus say ‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’? Hang on Jesus, I want peace like a river in my soul!

— or that ‘whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’? What’s wrong with loving dear old mum and dad? 

Jesus probably never said all this in one sermon or at one time. Matthew has brought it all together because there’s a common strand running through it all. That’s what I think, anyway. That common strand could be summed up as commitment. Or loyalty. Or faithfulness. 

God is looking for such people. 

Today is a time for such people. 

Such people are unafraid. It’s good to be unafraid. Fear kills. Fear kills hope, courage, friendship, love. Fear can kill faith. 

We are afraid of death. Afraid of life. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of both success and failure, of weakness and strength. 

Afraid of confrontation and conflict. 

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Trinity Takeaway

Readings
2 Corinthians 13.11–13
Matthew 28.16–20

 

 

Trinity is the Church’s most basic description of who God actually is — and who he needs to be in order to save us. It is at the very heart of what Christians believe, and very little else in Christianity makes sense without it. 

To speak of, or pray to, God as Trinity is to use a kind of ancient abbreviation. It is a made-up word, a shorthand way of affirming three statements: 

  1. There is only one God. 
  2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is each God. 
  3. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not the same.

 — Stephen Bullivant, The Trinity: How not to be a Heretic

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It’s Trinity Sunday. Let’s talk about food! Specifically, takeaway food. 

I remember many times as a kid in England going to a takeaway place. Nothing unusual about that, you may say. But back in the 1960s we didn’t call them takeaway places. We called them fish and chip shops. 

We didn’t use the word ‘takeaway’, because there was only one meal you took away to eat. Battered cod, and hot chips slathered in vinegar and covered with salt. All wrapped in last week’s newspaper. 

With a diet like that, I’m lucky to have survived this long. 

Now, my horizons have expanded. We have other takeaways like Chinese or Mexican or Indian food. Speaking of ‘takeaway’ makes sense now. You might mean more than one thing when you talk about ‘takeaway’. So you need to specify whether it’s Thai or Italian takeaway. 

That’s enough about food, I’m starting to crave fish and chips. 

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Connecting

Readings
Acts 2.1–21
John 7.37–39

 

The whole of our uneasy debate about the meaning of the word ‘God’ for modern [people] cries out, I believe, for a recovery of a significant doctrine of the Holy Spirit. That is where we must now begin our talk about God — God working anonymously and on the inside: the beyond in the midst. If we had not relegated the Holy Spirit to the merest edges of our theology we might never have got ourselves into our present confusions — or, better still, we might have endured our present expansion of awareness without dismay. As it is, we seem to have rarified God out of existence.… Any insight which make us exclaim: ‘Oh, now I see the connection!’ is potentially a new revelation. — John V Taylor, The Go-Between God 

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Someone asked me the other week how progressive Christians may speak of the Holy Spirit without sounding like Pentecostal™ wannabes or Evangelical® soundalikes. 

So today I’ll try to say something about how we might speak about the Holy Spirit, we who may feel shy about the Spirit. 

We need to speak of the Spirit, because the Spirit is central to our experience of faith. The Spirit is fire that purifies by burning off all our crud. The Spirit is wind that comes through like a cyclone to blow the chaff of our lives away. The Spirit is water that cleanses by half drowning us. 

The Spirit is a dove that swoops like a magpie in nesting season. 

Have you had an experience of the Holy Spirit? You probably have. Possibly, you don’t realise it. Or, you may be hesitant to talk about it. 

Let me tell you about the first time the Spirit took hold of me. The first time I know about, anyway. You may have heard this before. Apologies if so. 

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‘All caught up in the same story’

Readings
Ephesians 1.15–23
Luke 24.44–53

 

There is arguably no festival or Sunday of the Christian year that is more dependent on mythic imagery than the Ascension of the Lord. — Gail Ramshaw, Christian Century, 24 April 2016

[T]he risen Jesus manifests some added powers of teleportation, to say nothing of conquering death! But he remains fully human, raised up in a human body, with the expressed purpose of continued dynamic relationship with other embodied persons, the terms of which he proceeds to outline to his now more joyful, but still ‘wondering’ disciples (v. 41). — F Scott Spencer, Connections: Year C, Vol. 2

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I remember being on a Melbourne tram going into the city from Parkville. It was quite some years ago — so long ago, the tram had a conductor. 

An older woman was arguing with the equally elderly conductor, but not (as you might suppose) about the fare. 

They were arguing (loudly!) about the existence of heaven. The woman insisted it was ‘up there’. The conductor was mocking her, saying that what was up there was outer space. 

It was all very sad. 

It was an argument between two concrete-thinking people. If there was a heaven, it had to be ‘up there’, beyond the clouds; if it wasn’t up there, then there was no such thing as heaven. 

There were no other possibilities for them. 

Another story: I preached on the Ascension of Jesus over thirty years ago, and saw some people fiercely glower at me. This is why: 

I held up a globe and told them I don’t know which way is up. I mean, which direction did Jesus ascend? There are an infinite number of possible directions. To ascend from Jerusalem would send you in a different direction to ascending from Brisbane, and another direction again from Britain, where I was born. 

On a literal level, it’s a story that works best on a flat earth, where heaven is just above the clouds. Not very far away at all. 

But I’m assuming that, like me, you don’t believe the earth is flat.  Continue reading

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Not orphaned

Reading
John 14.15–21

 

Jesus calls the Spirit ‘another’ Advocate, which assumes that Jesus himself is already an Advocate (14:16). Giving Jesus and the Spirit the same distinctive title means they share some of the same functions. The Spirit will keep doing the work that Jesus began on earth after Jesus’ return to the Father.… After Jesus’ return to the Father, the Spirit remains with the disciples; but this does not mean the Spirit replaces Jesus. Rather, the Spirit discloses the presence of the risen Jesus and his Father to the community of faith. — Craig R Koester, The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel

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Last week, we saw that Jesus was going away from the disciples; and he needed to remind the disciples of where he was going — to the Father — and remind them that they knew the way. It was the way of Jesus, the way of the cross. 

Jesus was leaving. But, he said, ‘I will not leave you orphaned’. There will be Another with them. This Other is coming from the Father through the Son. This Other is the Holy Spirit. 

John has a particular perspective on the Spirit, and a particular name for the Spirit. Here, in the final discourse, he calls the Spirit ‘Paraklete’. 

That’s Paraklete. Not parakeet. 

A paraklete is someone who is called to be with us, called to be by our side. Different English versions of the Gospel According to John translate ‘Paraklete’ with different words. Words like:  

Advocate;
Comforter;
Helper
, or
Counsellor.

You see, no one English word can translate ‘Paraklete’. All of these words have one thing in common: they are relational. The Spirit as Paraklete mediates Jesus to us by advocating on our behalf, coming to our aid, giving us counsel or comfort where needed. 

The Paraklete is with us, on our side, even if that means showing us that we are wrong sometimes. 

For three years, the disciples had learned from Jesus in a relational way. They hadn’t learnt principles, rules, laws so much as learning the way the Teacher did things. They had learnt to pattern their lives on him, though not necessarily very well. Imitating Jesus, they were on the way to eternal life. 

Through the Spirit they were learning the deep ways of God in a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus. 

Without the Paraklete, it would have been very different when Jesus went. They would likely have to go to rules and regulations. Or maybe their memories of Jesus. Jesus’ mission would have been carried forward in a very different way. 

So, Jesus would send the Paraklete. Another Helper, Counsellor, Comforter, Advocate. They would not be orphaned. 

This Paraklete is not Jesus, but brings the truth of Jesus to the disciples. This Paraklete is not Jesus, but reminds the disciples of Jesus and his ways. This Paraklete moulds the disciples into the image of Jesus. 

The Spirit as Paraklete abides in us so we are centred on Jesus, rather than being centred on our egos. It’s a tough job to be decentred from ourselves in a liberating way! — a job only the Spirit can do. 

John is the only New Testament author who names the Spirit as Paraklete. There are other perspectives on the Spirit elsewhere in the New Testament, mainly from the Apostle Paul. 

The Spirit gives us various gifts, he says in 1 Corinthians 12, some to teach, others to help, some to heal but all to build up the body of Christ. 

Or, in Galatians 5 he speaks of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, fidelity, gentleness, goodness, kindness, patience, self-control. 

Or in Romans 8, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. 

These ways of speaking of the Spirit are also relational. They speak of working together to build up the body of Christ, or relating to one another in the love of Christ. Or simply being a child of God.

We are people of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit abides in us, and calls us to abide in Christ. The Spirit brings the things of Christ to life for us and in us. We in turn bring the things of Christ to one another. 

We remind one another of Jesus, we build each other up, whether by word or example. 

We don’t channel the Spirit by appealing to rules and regulations, though they have a place in setting boundaries to our life together. 

We bring the Spirit to one another by allowing the Spirit to mould us into the image of Jesus. 

In this way, we become a community channeling the love of God to the world around us. 

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’ We are not alone. The Paraklete, the Advocate, Comforter, Counsellor, Helper, is with us and among us and in us. Thanks be to God.

 

West End Uniting Church 17 May 2020

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It’s all about the Way

Reading
John 14.1–11

Today is Mothers’ Day, and in a moment I’ll be praying the prayer I usually pray before preaching, which names God as Mother. I want to preach from John 14, and here John calls God ‘Father’. So shall I. 

Am I being inconsistent, or even insensitive on Mothers’ Day? 

God is beyond gender: not male, female or any other gender. In ancient times, to call God ‘Father’ was to name God as the origin of all things and to name God as the one who gives us our inheritance. So, calling God ‘Father’ today is by no means to speak against God as our Mother. 

As the mystic Julian of Norwich said around 600 years ago, As truly as God is our Father, so truly God is our Mother.

Let us pray:
Compassionate God,
our Maker, Mother, and Midwife,
be our hope, our refuge,
and our protection. Amen.

Calling Jesus ‘the way’ can best be understood by noting that Jesus spoke about going the way himself before he spoke about being the way for others.… By going the way of the cross and resurrection he comes to embody the way of the cross and resurrection. To call Jesus ‘the way’ is to call him ‘the Crucified and Risen One.’ — Craig Koester, The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel

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Some Scripture verses inspire great love and passion; others are used as sticks to beat people with. And a few do both. One of these is John 14.6. Let me remind you of it. Jesus said to Thomas:  

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This verse inspires many: it’s one of the great ‘I am’ sayings of John’s Gospel. We touched on some of them last week. They include: 

I am the bread of life;
I am the good shepherd;
I am the resurrection and the life;
I am the true vine.
 

In the Gospel According to John, Jesus calls himself ‘I am’, which was a name given by God for himself to Moses back in the Book of Exodus. For John, Jesus and God the Father are one in spirit. We are on the way to the Trinity here; we haven’t yet quite arrived there, that took more time to formulate. Here though, as Jesus says in today’s Reading, ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father‘. 

No wonder it inspires people!

But this verse is also used as a stick to beat people with: ‘no one comes to the Father but by me’. The way they read it, it sounds like there’s a threat here: 

Do you want to be saved? Become a Christian, join our church, pray the sinner’s prayer, believe our way. You can’t have salvation any other way. 

Is there any way this verse can inspire us and not be an offensive weapon? Let’s see, shall we?  Continue reading

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That they may have Life

Reading
John 10.1–10

… our practice of Holy Communion is an enactment and a reenactment of God’s super abundance in the world, a super abundance that defies all our notions of scarcity, all of our temptations to hunker down and hoard, all of our fear about running short … ― Walter Brueggemann, The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann

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Friends, today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is often called Good Shepherd Sunday. In our three-year lectionary cycle, the Psalm is always Psalm 23; the Gospel Reading always comes from John 10, in which Jesus says [v.11] ‘I am the Good Shepherd’. 

Our reading today stops just short of Jesus saying ‘I am the Good Shepherd’; it ends at verse 10 with these words:

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The Gospel According to John talks a lot about life. It mentions ‘life’ right at the beginning: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

According to John, life came into being through the eternal Word of God, the Word that became flesh in Jesus Christ. 

So, in John’s Gospel words like these come from the lips of Jesus:

I am the bread of life;
I am the resurrection and the life;
I am the way, the truth and the life.  

Jesus is the creative Word, the Source of life, made human flesh. 

In John’s Gospel, this life is most often called eternal life. And why not? It comes from the eternal Word, who is one with God the Father. And since the resurrection of Jesus, life that is shared with him cannot be interrupted by death. It is eternal life because it is sharing the life of God. 

So when Jesus says, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’; this is the life of God, which Jesus shares with us. It’s the Life at the root of all other life, it’s the Energy that powers all Creation. Jesus came that we may have this life within us, a life that brings faith, hope and love, a life that ignites joy and peace in the very depths of our souls. 

Jesus came that we may know this Life which is the Source of all the life we know. This Life connects us to the Source of Life, which is God. We are plugged in to God, if you like. 

To have this Life is to show it, it is to share of ourselves and the things we have with generosity. Yet too many of us live with a sense of scarcity. We think to ourselves, I don’t have enough! If I have to share, I’ll have even less. 

Time for a confession: I often have this sense of scarcity. I can’t do that! I think. I’m not good enough! 

These are the times I need to remember that I share in the life that Jesus has brought into being. It is an inexhaustible supply. It is eternal. It is bottomless. 

The Apostle Paul once wrote that we have a treasure in clay vessels. The treasure is the life God gives us, the vessels are our flesh. We can let the treasure shine through. 

Some of us may struggle in this time of isolation. We wonder if we’re getting the job done, and what ‘the job’ even is right now. Perhaps you can identify with that. 

If that’s you, plug in again, listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd — who in the words of Psalm 23 leads us beside still waters and green pastures, who is with us in the darkest valley, who anoints our head with oil. 

And who spreads a table before us. At this Table we meet Jesus, the Good Shepherd who is the risen crucified One. Here, we reconnect with him and with one another. Here, we receive his life, and here we are strengthened for a life that is truly abundant. 

Soon, we shall share in this Holy Meal. Come, receive again the Life, the eternal Life, Jesus gives to us. Amen.

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‘… their eyes were opened’

Reading
Luke 24.13–35

The Uniting Church acknowledges that Christ has commanded his Church to proclaim the Gospel both in words and in the two visible acts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Christ himself acts in and through everything that the Church does in obedience to his commandment: it is Christ who by the gift of the Spirit confers the forgiveness, the fellowship, the new life and the freedom which the proclamation and actions promise; and it is Christ who awakens, purifies and advances in people the faith and hope in which alone such benefits can be accepted.

The Uniting Church acknowledges that the continuing presence of Christ with his people is signified and sealed by Christ in the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion, constantly repeated in the life of the Church. In this sacrament of his broken body and outpoured blood the risen Lord feeds his baptised people on their way to the final inheritance of the Kingdom. Thus the people of God, through faith and the gift and power of the Holy Spirit, have communion with their Saviour, make their sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, proclaim the Lord’s death, grow together into Christ, are strengthened for their participation in the mission of Christ in the world, and rejoice in the foretaste of the Kingdom which Christ will bring to consummation. ― Paragraphs 6 & 8, Basis of Union, Uniting Church Press, 1992 

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Two dispirited disciples are trudging their weary way to Emmaus, presumably their home. They are joined by a third, a stranger. This stranger seems not to know the latest and most tragic news concerning the death of Jesus, who they thought had been sent by God to deliver them. It was the third day since Jesus had been executed; there was some more news, but it was scarcely credible: 

… some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.

In the Gospel According to Luke, the women believe when they see a vision of angels. Peter also goes, but sees only an empty tomb. 

The testimony of the women was not enough to convince the men. The women, including Mary Magdalene, 

told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to [the men] an idle tale, and they did not believe them. [Luke 24.11]

The women’s report was not sufficient for the men to put their faith in the resurrection of Jesus. 

So, that evening, the ‘Emmaus Two’ are leaving Jerusalem for the familiarity of home, their dreams shattered, the empty tomb meaning nothing to them. 

We know their new companion is the risen Jesus, but they don’t know it yet. 

There’s something here about how the risen Jesus comes to us in a hidden way. He doesn’t jump in front of these two as they’re walking and shout ‘Ta-dah! It’s me!’ He is hidden from them; perhaps he is also hidden from us. Maybe we too encounter him sometimes, and we don’t realise it. 

Perhaps our eyes are closed to Jesus, or even our minds. The Emmaus Two’s eyes were opened — let’s see how. 

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The risen One is the crucified One

Reading
John 20.19–31

 

Thomas is not likely to be skeptical about a resurrection appearance the way a modern person might reject claims of the miraculous. He is more likely to be asking for proof that it is really Jesus of Nazareth, rather than some other heavenly being, who has appeared. The stark evidence of how Jesus died is what Thomas needs to persuade him that Jesus has been raised. What is at stake is not a miracle or a wonder or even the power of God. What is at stake for Thomas is continuity between the Jesus they have known and this one standing before them. The question is not so much ‘Has Jesus been raised?’ but ‘Has Jesus been raised?’ ― E. Elizabeth Johnson in Feasting on the Gospels, Year A, Vol. 2

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
― Edward Shillito, ‘He showed them His hands and His side’

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There are figures in the Bible’s story that are still widely known even in an age of biblical illiteracy. Jesus, of course. Mary, his mother. Pilate, who washed his hands, very relevant now. The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son. And Doubting Thomas. Lots of folk have heard of Doubting Thomas.

Though Thomas wasn’t really a doubter. Not really. 

The thing about Thomas was that he had to see things for himself: was this strange figure the others had seen Jesus, or another? The others said Jesus had appeared to them, but Thomas needed to see it with his own eyes. 

Maybe Thomas wondered How could it be Jesus? You see, anyone who was killed on a cross was deemed to be under God’s curse. Why would God raise someone from the grave if he’d only just cursed them? It made no sense.  

So Thomas wanted to see the wounds of crucifixion for himself. That would convince him it really was Jesus. 

For some reason Thomas hadn’t been with the others on the evening of the Day of Resurrection, but he was there in the upper room a week later. 

The wounds did convince Thomas that Jesus had appeared to them, and not some other kind of heavenly visitor. And Thomas declared Jesus as ‘My Lord and my God!’

Now, we’re reading this in 2020, we know the story. We already know it’s Jesus; so what do these wounds mean — if anything — for us today? 

I want to look at three things the wounds of Jesus can mean for us, very briefly. 

Firstly, the risen One is the crucified One. Why is that important? Sometimes, you’ll hear preachers say that Jesus came first to die on a cross; the second coming will be to punish his enemies. It may seem as though the risen One is someone other than the crucified One. 

No: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ [Hebrews 13.8] 

Jesus came 2000 years ago as our Saviour; Jesus comes to us today as our Saviour still. His purposes toward us never change. The wounds in his hands and side are the guarantee of that. 

So, we have a Saviour who can sympathise with us. Jesus doesn’t stand afar off from us; he is with us in our struggles, our weaknesses, in our failing and falling lives. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, and he will never fail us. The crucified One is our living Saviour. 

Secondly: if Jesus has wounds, we don’t need  to be ashamed of our wounds. We can be open with God in prayer about our woundedness. The God who knows what it is to suffer will sit with us in our difficulties, our tears, our fears. God walks with us and brings healing to us this way. 

By the way: are you impatient with wounded people? Part of the reason may be that you haven’t yet paid enough attention to your own wounds. Perhaps you’ve been impatient with others because you haven’t been patient enough with yourself. 

The risen Jesus was patient with the disciples. Did you see in this story today how he greets the disciples, each time he appears amongst them? Both times, we read

Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

They had all deserted Jesus in his hour of need. They left him alone to be arrested, tried, convicted and executed. Yet Jesus, the risen One still bearing the wounds of the cross, speaks ‘Peace’ to them. 

The way of God among us is to bring forgiveness and hope and grace into our midst. To make this the basis of our life together. To show us that God’s heart towards us is peace. 

Thirdly and lastly: The church has wounds. After all, it is the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ — if Christ has wounds, how can his body not be wounded? 

The wounds the church should bear are wounds that come from serving others. Wounds arising from acts of humility, of grace, of putting others first, of forgiving and being forgiven. Blows to our pride, prompts to humility, reminders that not everything is about us. These are the wounds we are meant to bear. They are inevitable consequences of serving Jesus in a world that turns its back on him. 

Regrettably, the church also bears other wounds, some of them self-inflicted. Sadly, Christian churches are wounded by those who abuse others, including children. More than that, we have a strong reputation for rejecting LGBTIQ people and for failing women in so many ways. 

It’s not enough for us to say, We’re not like that. We must show we’re not like that, and become a community in which all kinds of people may flourish. 

As we begin our services, we declare that we name West End Uniting Church as ‘a safe place for all to worship, regardless of age, ability, gender, race, sexuality, or cultural background’. 

This is who we are at our heart; we may attract some criticism, but this is our mission in West End. It’s who we are, when we can once more gather each Sunday or whether we meet in this technologically-mediated way. 

It’s ok for a church to be wounded for Christ; the wounds we bear in Jesus’ name are his wounds too. 

Jesus is the risen One. His scars assure us of his love for us for ever. He is patient with us, his wounded people. He is present with us, his church, as we strive to serve the world for which he died and rose again. Amen. 

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Filed under Easter, Grief and loss, Lament, RCL, sermon