Author Archives: trevor

Or rather, he has found us.

Epiphany 2. Yr A January 19th 2020

Isa.49.1-7; Ps.40 1-12;  1 Cor. 1.1-9; John 1.29-42

“We have found the Messiah.”   This is Andrew telling his brother Peter about Jesus.

“We have found the Messiah!!” 

He might have said, “We have found the One who is chosen to lead us from slavery into freedom. We have found The One who is to bring light to this dark world. The One in whom all sin can be forgiven.”

“The Messiah, the Christ, the Chosen One.”

I wonder if you remember when you found Christ. It may not have been a scintillating revelation. It may have been a gradual awareness, a gradual realisation, or a sudden realisation – an Epiphany, in fact.

Or after a particularly hard time, it may have been a realisation that during that time, someone had been there with you, and that someone was Jesus.

Cast your mind back. When did you first find Christ?

Actually, though,  I don’t think we find Christ.

He finds us.

Were you ever lost as a child?  Can you remember  the feeling: the dread feeling when you look around, perhaps after playing in the toy department of the store, and your mom is not there?

It’s horrible.

And your heart pumping, fighting back tears, you wander around in a daze, until finally you hear her voice, out of nowhere, “There you are!”

And you are found.

What a joy.

What a relief.

Imagine then, for an adult, how heartwarming it must be to be found.

But first, we have to realise we are lost. And that is the problem. Many people don’t even know they are lost.

I was thinking back over some aspects of my life the other day, and I remembered some decisions I had made, some directions I had taken, as a young man.

I remembered how I had been sure at the time that what I was doing was right.

I was so sure.

Or maybe I didn’t care!

Now looking back, I wonder how I could have been so naive. How could I have been so stupid.

Really!

I was like that child, playing in the toy department, and not knowing I was lost.

Until one day, after I had made so many wrong decisions that I came to a dead end, and it was obvious even to me that I was lost –   knew I was lost –  with my heart pumping, and fighting back tears,  he found me. 

And he had been looking for me for a long time.

Do you have a recollection like that? And if so, do you remember the great feeling, afterward?

A minister was walking down a hospital hallway when a man came running out of a room, and with a great smile on his face, he shouted, “She is going to make it.”

The minister didn’t know who ‘she’ was, nor who this madly joyous man was. It didn’t matter, the man just had to tell someone.

Andrew had to tell his brother Peter, that he had found the Messiah.

He just had to tell him.

And bring him to meet Jesus.

“Andrew was good at bringing people to Jesus wasn’t he?  There are only three times in the Gospels when Andrew is the centre of the stage. There is this incident here where he brings his brother to Jesus. There is the incident in John 6, verses 6-9, when he brings to Jesus the little boy with the five loaves and two fishes. Then there is the incident in John 12, 22 where he brings the enquiring Greeks into the presence of Jesus.

“It was Andrew’s great joy to bring others to Jesus. He stands as the man  whose one desire was to share the glory. He is the man with the missionary heart.

“Having  himself found the friendship of Jesus, he spent all his life introducing others to that friendship. He could not keep Jesus to himself. ”  [1]

He had  to share his joy, in finding Jesus. 

How many people do you know who find gladness in knowing Jesus? 

Do you?

And do you show it? 

I remember hearing this true account, some time ago. The writer was just about to get into his car in the car park, when he heard someone blowing their horn.

Loud!

He saw a man in a car, his face distorted with  fury, his hand hard on his car horn.

It seemed that someone else had just driven into the parking spot that man thought he was going to use. And wanted to vent at someone.

The writer said that he looked at the other car, and saw a man get out. He was big and bulky, and he naturally wondered what was going to happen.

Was there going to be a fight?

The first man took his hand off the horn, got out of his car, and just stood there.

The big guy went toward him, and stuck out his hand.

“Hi,” he said, with a  smile, ” My name’s Bill Matthews, how can I help you?”

The other guy’s face relaxed. Suddenly!  He forced a smile back.

” Sorry,” he said, ” I guess I was a bit out of line.”

The other guy said, “Oh don’t worry about it, we all get irritated some time. Here’s my card. If you ever want insurance, give me a call.”

It would be nice, wouldn’t it if in a similar situation, one person  could say something like, “Hi, my name’s so and so. I am a Christian. Here is my card. Call me if you ever want a ride to church.”

Or something!

With the love of Jesus shining from their face.

You know,  God uses us to help him with all sorts of people. It may not be the ones obviously in need. It may be the wrong time  

But they just might be – in need..

They just might have been directed by God, towards you.

Or me.

And when that happens, if the gladness that I feel in  knowing Jesus, and the need to tell others about him, doesn’t come through, then something needs fixing.  

I am going to have to pray about it.

Pray, that when He sends someone needing help my way, I can be there for them. And that something is showing through.

How about you?

Do you feel that joy in Christ? And if you do, do you think you show it?

We show it here, in church, don’t we?  But what about out there  with people who don’t know us?  

And here’s the kicker: if I am not showing a gladness in Christ,  then it raises the question:  Is there something wrong with my spirituality, or with my relationship with Jesus?

And if there is, it needs praying about.

But you know, I am also reminded of a story about a family which once upon a time moved into a new house.

It was a very nice house with a lot more room than in their old house. However, it was also strange and when it came time to go to bed, the three children were very sleepy but  they didn’t like their rooms because they were unfamiliar and they didn’t like the house because it was not their old house and they didn’t like anything because they were so tired.

Then they woke up and were frightened and angry. Their parents hadn’t come to the room to tuck them in again before they fell asleep. 

Now they woke up frightened and angry.

So they stormed down stairs and discovered that both their parents had fallen asleep in the front room, their mother on the couch and their father on an easy chair.

The kids were shocked and dismayed. What good were parents who grew so tired when they moved to a new house that they forgot their kids and just fell asleep.

So they woke their mommy up and shouted at her. “Why did you go to sleep on us mommy?”

“ Because I’m human,” she said, “and I get tired. Even Jesus got tired.”

“Yeah!”  said the kids, “ but he wasn’t our mommy!”

People want us to be perfect, don’t they? Especially our children, and we want to be perfect don’t we?  But we aren’t.  And we can’t be.

We are human.

There is no magic formula that puts a never-wavering smile on your face, or gives you the patience of a saint.

Even some of the saints didn’t have the patience of a  saint.

But when you know you have touched Christ, give thanks, and be joyful, and tell about it.

Share the joy.

When your cup runneth over, let it spill onto someone who needs it. 

When we can pour blessings on people rather than our  disdain, then we will know, that like Andrew, we have found the Christ.

Or  rather,  he has found us. 

Amen.


[1] The Daily Study Bible, William Barclay, G.R.Welch Co. Ltd. Burlington, Ont. Rev Ed.1975

A Celebration of Life.

The writer and poet, W.H.Auden lost someone he loved, and he wrote these sombre words:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffins, let the mourners come.  Let the airplanes circle moaning overhead, scribbling on the sky, ‘ He is dead’; put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves. Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. He was my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest; my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song. I  thought that love would last forever: I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now; put out every one; pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. Pour away the oceans and sweep up the wood; for nothing now can ever come to any good.

‘Pour away the oceans and sweep the wood, for nothing now can ever come to any good.’

Those words echo  the feelings of most of us when we suffer a great loss. They fit the jagged edges of grief that we feel, and, want to feel, they match the writer’s hurt with our own hurt.

They are hard words. Deeply grieving words. Words that signal the end of hope.

And if there were no God, and no afterlife, and if love ended just like that, when someone died, then indeed hope is gone.

But that is not the way I see it.   It is not the way it is.

There’s another point of view in the words we heard from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, which bring us down to earth.  They tell us there is a time for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die.

In other words, just as life comes to us at a certain time, so does death.

It is part of the normal progression of things.

So as earth-shattering as it is when we lose someone so close to us, Ecclesiastes tells us, what existence is all about.  The flowers break through the hard soil in Spring. They bloom, broadcast their seed,  and then they fade. And all according to God’s plan.  

And  so do we.

But that’s not good enough for most of us.

Is it?

Most of us want to know what happens when we die. We want to know that when someone passes away they do just that, they pass away – from here to somewhere else.

We want to know that a life lived, and enjoyed, and shared, has not been in vain.

So although we accept the pragmatism that is evident in the words from Ecclesiastes, we  still look beyond – to affairs of the soul and the nobleness of those who follow Christ.

The Evangelist John tells us: we are much more than flowers of the field.  We are children of God.

See what love the Father has given us that we should be called the children of God.”

If you remember …… Jesus was asked which were the greatest commandments and he replied that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.  That is the first commandment.

The second was that we should love others as ourselves.

Sharon as all of you here can attest, fulfilled the spirit of those two commandments. She loved God as surely as the sun rises each day.  She sought him in time of trouble. And she found him.

And she found God in those with whom she came into contact daily.

That would be family and friends but also those she helped care for in the hospital where she worked.

Because she looked for God in people, as she fulfilled the second of the two great commandments.

Sharon was a child of God in every sense.

One of His, but also one who saw others as equally precious in His sight.

One who cared for others, but who had a great sense of humour,  and who could find the light in most situations

A child of God.

And you know, children of God are promised many things.

We are promised forgiveness of sins for one thing, and as good as we try to be, and as helpful as we try to be, the fact is that we are not perfect.

None of us is. 

But God made us, and He knows us,  and he forgives us for where we fail, and he rewards us for where we succeed.

Children of God are also promised that when they leave this world there is a place for them in a much better world.

Jesus said, “ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”  Would I have told you if it were not true?

There is a place for Sharon.

We can all be comforted that there is a place, apart from this one where we will be loved and welcomed.

And we should also be aware that the love we hold for someone, and them for us, doesn’t end when life ends. It’s not over.

A mother, trying to explain death to her young, terminally ill son, asked him, “Do you remember when you have been really tired, and you have just flopped down on your mum’s bed, and fallen asleep? And when you have woken up you found yourself in your own room?

Because dad came up and carried you there while you were asleep.”

“Death’s like that,” she told him. “You fall asleep and the Father comes and takes you from this room into the next.”

You don’t cease to love someone when they go into the next room.

Love lasts for ever, and Sharon will be for ever loved. And is, forever loved.

Paul  talks about the everlasting love of God when he reassures us that nothing, nothing, neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, – nor anything in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

God’s love never fails.

Death doesn’t eliminate love.

It can’t.

It doesn’t eliminate hope either, contrary to what Auden says in that poem. Hope is not lost, nor ever will be for those who follow Christ – our Hope and our Salvation.

Death really is a beginning, a beginning of another great adventure, and that is why we Christians call a funeral service a celebration.

A celebration of a life lived, but also a celebration of  the love of God which assures us of life ever after.

Celebration it may be, but that certainty cannot take away the pain of losing a true love.

The pain of losing someone, the hole in our hearts that loss causes, cannot be shrugged off, nor should it be.

We lose someone, and it hurts, and no talk of celebration will take it away.

Not for a while.

But time will.

Time will dull the edges, the jagged edges, and bring an easement of that terrible feeling of loss.

Time will bring healing.

And it should, because, the way that Sharon loved you,  she wouldn’t  want you, her close family, and her dear friends to weep for ever.

So I hope that soon, when you are ready, you will be able to remember Sharon as she was – a sparkling, fun-loving wife, ( sadly for a short time)  mother, daughter, sister,  and friend.

And smile. Yes, smile.

For Sharon well knew,  that although  there is a time to weep, there is also a time to laugh.

Amen.