This sermon was first delivered by our Reader, Christine, on 15 January 2017.
We all know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving, but I often wonder whether he felt a need to change his tactics, his ideas, when he began to deal with the human race as one of us?
In the Old Testament, God uses the prophets and speaks through them, Isaiah states he “called me before I was born, whilst still in the womb.” It’s even been suspected that God has walked with them, albeit unknown, for instance as the 3 strangers with Abraham and Sarah in Genesis or in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, but coming to earth as a baby, that’s something entirely different.
In this way, he became reliant on human love to nurture him and protect him. He put himself into the very hands of his creation. A people who had turned away from him many times and now as the eldest child of an ordinary family, living in a small village, he would grow up in much the same way as any other child.
Now, as a young man, we hear about him beginning to gather his disciples around him, to venture out of his comfort zone and begin his mission.
We all have a comfort zone and I’m sure we have all, at some time, had to step out of it.
As a child in secondary school, the one subject I dreaded most was drama. I would do anything I could to avoid any form of acting; like running errands for the teacher; helping with equipment; hiding at the back of the class in the hope I wouldn’t get picked to join a group, basically anything, but, I remember, the one time I couldn’t escape. (I think it’s because we were doing some form of assessment). Anyway I opted to be a cat. That was simple because, no-one could see who I was, as I was wearing a mask and the only lines I had to learn was to meow at the appropriate time. Even that horrified me and I still remember to this day exactly where I was on the stage. By the way, I don’t tell my grandchildren about this as they all have to take part in drama these days and there is not much chance to escape it like I used to.
And now John has revealed Jesus. He has put him at the centre of attention, if you like he is the main character on the stage. “This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” What more of an introduction did Jesus need?
We are not privy to God’s plan, only He knows that, but what we do know is that he made sure the world knew he had come into it, not by blasting it from the hilltops and blowing loud trumpets, but through the birth of a child and the extraordinary events that led had up to it.
The Magi had travelled from far away, that much we do know, and returned to their places of origin. It’s inconceivable to think that they did not confide in other people on their journey and when they returned home. They had found the king they were seeking.
The Shepherds, although local men, must have spoken to their families and friends and described the events of that night, how could they not?
And what about the Inn Keeper and the people of Bethlehem, that little town bustling with crowds of people where there was no room left in the Inns. The rumblings and stories must have spread throughout that town about everything that had happened in those few days.
The Word was out and was now among them.
John the Baptist is more aware of this than anyone and basically tells his disciples to leave him and go with Jesus, “Look, here is the Lamb of God”.
Now the time has come when God through Jesus is to become known to those around him through his teachings, miracles and healings.
Now was the time to bring everything together to draw people closer to God.
It’s no surprise that the first disciples of Jesus were fishermen, their job is to throw the net as far as possible, to spread it far and wide, and then to draw it back in bringing the catch to shore.
Jesus was going to take these men out of their comfort zone to show them things that would change the world, to teach them about the love of God and how to share the word with everyone they met. They weren’t academics, they were just ordinary strong men who worked as a team. God would use them to speak out, to tell people the good news that he loves each and every one of us.
The church began to grow with these very first disciples, with Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip and Nathaniel and after Epiphany it is a time for us to think about how God calls every one of us to continue the work begun by the disciples.
Paul carried on this work by travelling around the area planting churches and teaching leaders to look after them. When he was no longer able to travel to them he wrote the letters that we use and sent brothers to keep the churches to encourage them to be strong and faithful. God had called him and worked through Paul.
God knows us by name, he calls us and has lived among us.
He understands our nature, our fears and our thoughts, but how do we move out of our comfort zone to spread the word of God?
How do we get that message out there to those who have not yet heard?
Let us pray:
- Loving God,
- Help us to share your words of life with our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues,
- Help us to speak of holiness; righteousness; freedom and compassion.
- Give us the opportunity to talk about healing; comfort; acceptance and forgiveness.
- Grant, O God that we may speak so boldly and so lovingly that the greatness of Christ may shine out clearly in our lives through the indwelling of your Holy Spirit.
- In Jesus’ name,
- Peregrini Resource Book.
Christine Hardy, Reader, St. Margaret & St. George’s Church. ©