Saturday, 26 February 2011

Final notes for Feb 27th

Yes, for a while it said 'July' there...when's the next holiday??

Anyway. here's the final version - short-ish as there's a baptism and communion to fit in..

Matthew 6: 24-34
The reading we had from Matthew is taken from a long piece of teaching given by Jesus, in chapters 5 & 6 which Matthew calls ‘the sermon on the mount’.

It starts with ‘blessed are the meek, the poor, those who mourn, the peace-makers’. Jesus is clear that God will bless them and provide what they need. Then Jesus talks about all sort of things – the law and the prophets and their relationship to his teaching, he talks about murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation, giving to others, prayer, fasting, and attitudes to wealth.
Phew! In just 2 chapters of Matthew Jesus covers a lot of ground. His listeners might have been wondering where the finger was going to point next. What else does Jesus want us to do, or not do?
But as Jesus reaches the end of the sermon in many ways he come back to the theme of the start – the poor, the hungry, the meek…are all blessed by God. So don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will wear.. do not be anxious. Believe in the grace of God.

I think Jesus is keen that his followers understand that responding to God’s love means that we want to know how best to live in ways that show we are God’s children – so loving our enemies, giving to the poor, praying are all important. But Jesus knows how people tend to tip over into making these good things a condition for being loved by God. If we’re worried that we need to be good enough for God’s love, Jesus says ‘do not worry’. What’s a flower ever done? But it’s beautifully clothed by God. And all the birds have enough to eat – even though they have no way of growing or storing food.
Do not be anxious, says Jesus. God wants his creation to flourish & grow & know love: not as a reward for doing the right thing but just as a condition of being alive.
I’m really glad we’ve had this reading today as we’re celebrating Clare’s baptism. When Chris, Clare’s mum rang me to ask if this as possible, she might have been a bit surprised at the speed with which I said ‘yes’. But baptism is for anyone and everyone who asks for it. It is the symbolic celebration of God’s love for each person who lives. There are no conditions to God’s love, nothing we have to do to earn it, and so there’s nothing we have to do to deserve baptism, except ask for it. Do not worry – God does everything that needs doing in baptism: God has brought you here, met you here, and will bless you here with his holy spirit.

Sometimes you hear someone describe baptism as ‘putting on Christ’. In some church traditions the person who has been baptized might change after baptism into new clothes, to symbolize the new chapter of their life.
Jesus says do not worry about what you will wear – God will clothe you with grace and with love.

Our other celebration this morning is of the Eucharist – the sharing of bread and wine and remembering of the life and death & resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Do not worry about what you will eat – here is bread and wine: admittedly not in a great enough quantity to fill your stomach, but again it is symbolic of all that God gives us in love.

Do not worry about what you will eat – the God who loves us enough to come to us in Jesus will not let us hunger or thirst, but will bless us with all that we need.

So as we celebrate this morning, let’s trust in God to grace our lives with everything we need for our own good, and for the good of others, in Jesus name.

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