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Christ the King/The Reign of Christ (Year C, 21 November 2010)

Your sins are forgiven

Readings
Luke 1.68-79
Colossians 1.11-20
Luke 23.33-43

Last week, I began by talking about a phone call I received while I was in placement in Biloela. That wasn’t the only phone call I had while I was there. One Monday, an elder rang me to ask if she and another elder could arrange a time to speak with me. They didn’t say why. Did I do something wrong in the service yesterday? I wondered.

The next day, they came to see me, two ladies in their sixties, me then in my thirties. Two ladies who had been active in the church all their lives. I was a little daunted by them back then. (I wouldn’t be daunted now!)

This is why they wanted to see me: they wanted to tell me in person of a wonderful discovery they had made. It was this: for the first time ever, they had realised their sins were forgiven.

Remember, they had been part of the life of the church as long as they could remember. But the message of forgiveness had never sunk in. Why had they grasped it now?

It was simple, really. Every week now they were hearing these four words:

Your sins are forgiven.

And they were responding with these four words:

Thanks be to God.

And the penny had dropped. They were among the forgiven. Has the penny dropped for you? Have you realised that you are forgiven?

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14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 4 July 2010

Bear one another’s burdens: Ubuntu


Readings
Galatians 6.1-16
John 8.2-11

A couple of weeks ago, I reminded you that I’m from Yorkshire. I’m happy that my birthplace was in Yorkshire; it means that I’d achieved something as soon as I was born!

It can be a hard place, Yorkshire. People sometimes wrongly say that Scottish people are mean. Well, it’s been said that the difference between a Yorkshireman and a Scotsman is this: A Yorkshireman is a Scotsman wi’ generosity sooooked out of ’im. And there’s a saying that Yorkshire folk are famous for:

’ear all, see all, say nowt;
tak’ all, keep all, gie nowt;
eat all, sup all, pay nowt;
an’ if th’ivver do owt fer nowt,
do i’ fo’ thisseln

Hear everything, see everything, say nothing;
take everything, keep everything, give nothing;
eat everything, drink everything, pay nothing;
and if you ever do anything for nothing,
do it for yourself.

But you know, anyone who were to live by that motto would be making a mistake.

Perhaps another piece of English wisdom is better: it’s from the poet John Donne, who eventually became the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. In 1624 Donne wrote,

No man is an island, entire of itself…
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.

John Donne got it right; others have got it right, too. I’ve been reading something of Desmond Tutu lately. He speaks of the interdependence of all people using an African word, ubuntu. I want to spend a few minutes on what he says later; some of it may be familiar to those of you from Africa, particularly southern Africa.

So, according to John Donne and Desmond Tutu, we are all interconnected; therefore, next time you do something for nothing, do it for someone else.

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