Sermon by our Rector, the Revd Alison Cozens Sunday 8th October 2017.
Jesus said, ’Have you never read in the scriptures, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone: this was the Lord’s doing and it was amazing in our eyes?’
A few weeks ago both at the Area Council service in Kirkcaldy and at the service here on Sunday 20th August, our young people invited us to think about something amazing God has done or shown to us in our lives recently.
So I wonder if you can think for a moment of something amazing or wonderful that God has revealed to you, some inspiration or insight or encouragement.
The chief priests and the Pharisees hearing Jesus’ parables were amazed by him and in fact they wanted to arrest him but they feared the crowds because the crowds regarded Jesus as a prophet.
All major religions have at their heart ‘eat, pray, love’, but at the heart of our Christian religion we have the Ten Commandments given to Moses on the mountain top and recorded in the book of Exodus which we heard read today.
We become like the chief priests and the Pharisees if we believe that by keeping all the rules we shall enter the kingdom of God.
The young St Paul was a rising star among the Jewish community. He was a stickler for the law but then on the Damascus road he encountered the risen Christ and his life was changed for ever!
What St Paul teaches us in the letter to the Philippians which we heard read this morning is that knowing Christ is all that matters, and that following Christ, even if that means enduring suffering for his sake, is all that matters.
In my experience God often comes to us when we least expect it and God often speaks to us in ways that are quite amazing.
If we are listening to God and to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and souls then we will often be amazed, amazed by God’s love and care for each and every one of us in our daily lives.
When I was in Leiceister, I had the headquarters of Barbara Butler’s
Christians Aware in my parish. Barbara’s husband Tom Butler was Bishop of Leicester sometime back. They kindly send me their quarterly magazine which dropped through my letter box this week
And in it my good friend Canon Andrew Wingate reflects upon 40 years of knowing and visiting India and the very great changes that have occurred in that country over that time. As a young man just after this first curacy Andrew went to teach in Tamil Nadu and he was exposed to the great injustice of the caste system and he has continued to fight for equality for the Dalits, the Untouchables.
Often a new experience in youth, a fresh expression of community, can have profound effects on a person’s life and clearly those who go to the Glen youth camp each summer have just such an experience and returning to ordinary congregations is going to be disappointing by comparison.
But then again I think a lot of ministry is about the bridging the gaps for people who experience God in different ways and people who think or believe differently from us.
I would like to recommend to you two films that I have seen recently:-
The first is Viceroy’s House a magnificent wide screen vista movie told with an autobiographical slant by the director about the partition of India 70 years ago. Apart from its political agenda, it tells the story of how people from different backgrounds can sometimes come together or fall apart.
The second film, the Butler, also has an autobiographical slant; it tells the story of one black man’s journey from the cotton fields of the deep south of America to butler in the White House concluding with a meeting with Barack Obama.
Both America and India have known racial tension and violence on a scale unfamiliar to us but there are lessons to be learned for civil society as we all seek to engage prayerfully and respectfully as people of faith with our neighbours from different cultures and backgrounds.
If we have a strong and rooted faith then I believe as Christian people we can engage with integrity with those who are different from us.
So I wonder what it is that God has revealed to you which you have found amazing recently?
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone: this was the Lord’s doing and it is amazing in our eyes.’
Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God now and for ever.