Author Archives: trevor

And then leaves the rest to Him.

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Mark.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.     (Mark 4:26-34)

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Here in Mark’s account of the parable of the sower, we have some truths that bear thinking about. Jesus has brought a message – the Good News that God wants to welcome his children back to His side, that he is willing to forgive their sins, and that He will accomplish this through Jesus Christ the Anointed One.

Just prior to telling the parable of the sower,  Jesus said a light is not given to be hid under a bushel. That this message, hasn’t been given us to hide away, under a bushel basket as it were, but others need to see it.  Others, still in the darkness, need to see it. 

Some people take the light they have been given and illuminate the darkest of places – prisons, death row – places where you would think that Satan rules undeterred. They take the light of Christ into the lives of those who have only known darkness. One on one.

And it is by one person showing the light to another – that the rule of God will eventually extend over all the earth.

Satan knows about that method and uses it to spread  his own influence. He uses it to have one depraved person lead another into depravity. He uses internet chat rooms, porn sites, one-to-one communication to help spread his evil. 

But Christians too meet on websites. Websites are set up to spread the Gospel. You can read the Bible in any translation, and practically in any language, on the net. You can read sermons, visit churches oceans away.  You can be part of on-line discussion groups.

You can also be part of a bible study group right here at home. You can mix with other Christians, pray, work together to help others, and take part in spreading the Gospel. Just by talking to others. Just by inviting a friend to come to such a group with you, or to one of our dinners, or even – dare I say it – to church.

It’ll only work if we pass it on. If we are prepared to share the light. 

One of the things that puts people off from just asking someone to come to church is that they think they might be asked to do more. That they will somehow be responsible for that person’s salvation or something. Or worse still, asking them to take offering envelopes.

Of course you will be responsible for them if you bring them to church. You will introduce them to others, accompany them to the coffee hour,  but that’s it.

The parable of the sower tells us that all we have to do is sow the seed. God will do the rest. Their life is not our responsibility. It’s not our success that is paramount here. 

We aren’t called to succeed, as Mother Teresa used to say, we are called to try.

Just asking someone to church is planting a seed. Just telling someone in trouble that you will pray with them is planting a seed. Dropping a card to someone who is ill is planting a seed.

And the seed, the message in other words, that you are sending, has a power all on its own.

Samuel the High Priest of Israel went rather timidly to Bethlehem to see who it was had been selected by God to lead His people. He was afraid that King Saul might find out. David was the one. A young slip of a thing, too young to be given much responsibility, he had the lowliest job, caring for the flock.

Samuel, on God’s command, anointed this boy as the future king of Israel, and the boy was blessed by the spirit of God.  The seed planted in David, that day, would lead him to grow in strength and maturity,  and in obedience to God, and to learn from his experiences how to be king.

So, we are to try, one on one to forward the message we have been given. We are to trust that God will use what we do, to move in the heart of those so touched. And we are to have faith that when we do that we will be contributing to a worldwide movement of love for God and neighbour.

And that whatever we do, whatever we try, He will be there, assisting us.

I have often had the privilege of being called to be at the bedside of someone who is dying. I drive up to the house, or to the hospital, and there in my car, I just pray: ” Lord, I have no idea what I will find here, what the situation is, and what I have to do to bring comfort. Please guide me in what to say, and what to do.”

And He always has.

We all aren’t called to such serious moments.

But we can all reach out gently and simply to another.

Frankly that’s all we can do to counter Satan’s campaign to spread hatred of God and neighbour in the world..

Reach out without fear of rejection, without fear of failure.

You might remember one of Charles Schulz’s cartoons, featuring Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Charlie Brown is at bat. Strike three!. He has struck out again and slumps over to the bench.

” Rats, I’ll never be a big league player. I just don’t have it. All my life I have dreamed of being in the big leagues but I know I’ll  never make it.”

Lucy turns to console him. “Charlie Brown, you’re thinking too far ahead, What you need to do is set yourself more immediate goals.

He looks up,” Immediate goals?”

Lucy says,” Yes. Start with this next inning when you go out to pitch. See if you can walk out to the mound without falling down.”

We don’t have to be great. We don’t have to be famous. We don’t even have to succeed, frankly.

All we are asked to do is try.

That’s how God’s work will be done and how good will triumph over evil. 

Jesus uses the example of the mustard tree whose seed is so small, and yet which grows into a large bushy plant with room for all sorts of birds to shelter in it.

God’s kingdom would grow to cover the whole earth. Jesus and that little band of brothers were the ones who would begin to plant the seeds that would make that happen.  

We latter day disciples, are likewise entrusted with the task of sowing  the seed, and tilling  the soil.

The problem as I see it is that we have forgotten our original purpose.

As Christians we have the idea that what we are is a worshipping people,  a people who worship in a church which we are entrusted with keeping open at all cost,  with paying the bills, singing the hymns, and generally being in each other’s company.

And that idea of what a Christian does is a pretty nice notion, isn’t it?

I’ll go for that.

But I believe we sometimes need to take a different look at things.  We need to take a lateral rather than a linear view of Christianity.

See things differently.

Peter Hay, in his Book of Business Anecdotes, tells the story of  marketing whiz Stanley Arnold who in the fifties, was working at Young & Rubicam, where he was asked to come up with a marketing campaign for Remington Rand. The company was among the most conservative in America. Its chairman at the time was retired General Douglas MacArthur.

Intimidated at first by a company that was so much a part of America, Arnold also found in that phrase – ‘so much part of America’ –  the first inspiration for a campaign.

After thinking about it, he went to the New York offices of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, and placed the ultimate odd-lot order: “I want to purchase,” he told the broker, “one share of every single stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.” After a vice president tried to talk him out of it, the order was finally placed. It came to more than $42,000 for one share in each of the 1098 companies listed on the Big Board at the time. Arnold now took his diversified portfolio into a meeting of Remington Rand’s board of directors, where he argued passionately for a sweepstakes campaign with the top prize called ‘A Share in America.’

The winner would get an actual share in America.   One share in every listed company!

The conservative old gentlemen shifted around in their seats and discussed the idea for a while. “But Mr. Arnold,” said one, “we are not in the securities business.” Said another, “We are in the shaver business.”

“I agree that you are not in the securities business,” said Arnold, “but I think you also ought to realize that you are not in the shaver business either. You are in the people business.”

They bought the idea. [1]

See, we are not in the worshipping business, although that is what we do. We are not in the music business, although we like to sing our little hearts out.   We are not in the real estate business,  although we need a place to gather. We are not in the hospitality business although we do serve wine and bread, and after the service, coffee and cookies.

We are in the salvation business.

We are here to help others come to know the overpowering love of Jesus Christ and how he died to save us – to make us free!

When people come to hear and accept that message then we will have done what we are really here for.

But I want to emphasize: that doesn’t mean we are responsible for the whole message. We don’t even have the responsibility of making sure they listen.

We have just got to plant the seed.

It’s not that complicated.

Oh, I know people  like to make things complicated, don’t they?  I knew a man once who used to tell everyone he was a horticultural  propagationist.

 He was a gardener for Pete’s sake!

We are not evangelical propagationists.

We are not even gardeners.

You and I  are simply someone who by a kind word or deed, or a casual invitation, simply puts someone in the way of God’s love.

And then leaves the rest to Him.  Amen.


[1] Peter Hay, The Book of Business Anecdotes, in Bits and Pieces, Oct., 1990

And – it’s not a secret!

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to Mark

The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.”

And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”   (Mark 3:20-35)

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The Second Sunday of Pentecost .

I knew a man who had a particularly irritating trait.

I used to work with him,

I would ask him something like, “ Do you have those numbers ready?” and he would shake jhis head, and then say,” Yup. I got them. Right here. “

Or, I would ask, “ Do you want to stop off  for a drink after work tonight,?” And he would nod his head, and then say “No, I can’t make it tonight.”

His body language – or his ‘head language’ said one thing and his mouth said another.

That’s ambiguity.

Some people are taught how to do that, believe it or not. To indicate one thing and mean something else.

For example I heard a woman once, who said that she spent three years in a Swiss boarding school, and all she learned there was, that when she heard someone say something stupid, she would say, “ That’s interesting,” instead of , ” That’s a load of…..

Not saying what you mean, or not meaning what you say.

Well, on a larger and more  tragic scale -– June 4th  is the  anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre which took place in 1989, in China.

This major historical and tragic event isn’t taught in Chinese schools; it’s not in the official history books. Most young people in China don’t know anything about it.

It’s as if it never happened, which is how the authorities want it to be.

Because of social media, it is more difficult these days to hide something like this. However, if you are in China and search for information on the internet, about that event, using, ‘Tiananmen Square,’ or any other derived word you might use to get information on that event, you will find it difficult, if not impossible.

Any combination of words, that might lead you to such information has been noted by censors, and turned into a dead end.  For a while, some people beat the censors by searching for 6/89, but not for long.

The powers that be don’t want any mention of the event. And will do anything to stop people accessing information about it.

Something happened, but the authorities are saying it didn’t.

And the Chinese are not alone in denying the existence of something that actually happened, as we have seen in the past year just across our southern border, where an alternative reality has been presented.

And it’s hard to go against such ambiguity – saying one thing and meaning another, especially if its your government speaking.

The authorities who were against Jesus were accusing him of breaking the Sabbath laws. What they really meant was that he was upsetting the established order, and they wouldn’t put up with it

When the scribes and Pharisees challenged what Jesus was doing; for example disregarding the Sabbath laws as they said,  – by healing on the Sabbath, he answered them,” The Sabbath law was put there for the benefit of people, not to oppress them,”

This made sense to anyone who had the slightest inkling of logic, but it didn’t fit against the alternative truth his enemies were presenting.

When he asked them, “Is it lawful to do good, to save a life on the Sabbath?” They really could not say ” Yes” and they could not say    “No”. They would be caught in their own ambiguity.

That would be like my friend, nodding “Yes, ” but saying,” No.”

So later, the Pharisees decided to ally themselves with the Herodians – another party –  to find a way to destroy Jesus.

The verdict against Jesus may actually have been decided right there, not in that sham trial in Jerusalem months later.

That event could have been the start of the campaign which resulted in Jesus’ death.

Still trying to catch him out, however, they had to admit to themselves that clearly Jesus’  healings were genuine and had to be supernatural, but they couldn’t bring themselves to admit that such miracles must have come from God.

So they hit on this idea that they would accuse him of doing the devil’s work. That his power came from Beelzebub.

Here they are again saying one thing, but meaning another. It was a flawed argument and they knew it.

And Jesus demolished their argument by pointing out the obvious, that if Satan were doing good things  – healing sick people – then he must be working against himself, and that just wouldn’t make sense, would it?

Not only were they foiled again, but they had done the unforgivable; they had  blasphemed  against the Holy Spirit –  saying the Spirit which enabled Jesus to heal, was Satan.

But they were so consumed with getting rid of Jesus that this probably went over their heads, anyway.

Now they have decided that he has to die, and they have given up trying to find legal means to get rid of him.  Since he has demolished all their arguments, they will use some other means, and as we know, they will later use Judas.

So what we have here, in what the authorities are going to do with Jesus, is exactly how modern day tyrants behave, presenting themselves as caring, but doing the opposite.

And we have an expert in obfuscation, and ambiguity just down the road aways in the US. Haven’t we?

It is hard to fight against ambiguity. You can’t pin it down.

And if you try, it can get you crucified.

It happens in everyday life. You may be in a job, and you see that your boss is doing something illegal, and you speak up about it, and find yourself out of work!

You may be the best candidate for a particular position. You may be working wonders for your company, but because you didn’t  look the other way when something wrong took place, you didn’t get that job.

That has been the case throughout history, hasn’t it? On bigger, or smaller scale.

Our forebears fought the battles that gave us our freedoms. So we can speak up against what we see as oppressive, or illegal, or against the common good.

Usually.

But such freedom is a fragile thing. And can be gradually whittled away if we are not on guard.

So what lesson do we draw from all this for our own lives?

There are many examples in history,  of courageous Christians speaking out about evil.

The people who followed Jesus, spoke out courageously against what was happening in the Roman Circuses; spoke out against kings who oppressed their subjects; centuries later, spoke out against slavery; spoke out against the exploitation of young children in Victorian factories; spoke out against the exploitation of women, and are still doing so.

And we, also, have a duty to speak out, and act, when we see injustice.

We are asked to speak up in support of those who suffered terribly as children in the residential schools. And against violence against aboriginal women which may have its roots in what took place in those schools.

So in a symbolic gesture, some years ago, Anglican churches across the country rang their church bells on a particular Wednesday – Ron rang ours – and we were asked to do so for another two Wednesdays. As a sign that we are against such wrongs.

But ringing bells wasn’t enough. Nothing much changed.

People have to speak up. And people have to act.

These are the words of a poem, written by  the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis‘ rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The people who followed Jesus went out into the far reaches of the earth to bring the light of Christ to those who lived in darkness. Some were killed. Some were turned away. Some lost hope. But some succeeded. And the word was spread.

Some years ago, I got a call from the diocese, asking me to meet a visiting Indian Chief and priest from the north, take him to dinner and deliver him to a church in Niagara Falls where he was to preach.

Susan and I met him and had a wonderful couple of hours with him.

In the course of dinner, I asked him, in light of what had happened in the residential schools, what did he feel about Christian faith now?  How did his faith stand up?

He said, “ One day the shaman in our village said he had a dream wherein he saw a light coming to us from across the sea, so every night, someone was posted to watch the sea, and look for this light.”

After about six weeks, the lookout spotted, way off, something coming their way. At first they couldn’t make out what it was. Then  eventually, they saw it was a small boat, and a man was in the boat.

The boat eventually reached the shore, and the man got out.

They welcomed him, and he asked them to be seated, and he read to them from  his Bible, the words of Jesus, “ I am the light of the world,”

I am the light of the world.!

This was the fulfillment of the shaman’s dream.

Our dinner companion then said, ‘How could we turn against someone who brought us the light of the world?”

You see, someone spoke up about Jesus!

And brought about positive, and lasting, change.

So, it seems to me, we are reassured, that in all the world’s adversity, in all the oppression that we hear about, in all of man’s inhumanity to man, that somehow the light of Christ will shine through.

And will endure.

That all that evil persons can do to advance their evil in this world will come to naught.

That the only constant thing in this world is the love of God as supremely shown to us in Jesus the Christ.

And – it’s not a secret!

Amen

Holy Trinity

Trinity Sunday.

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ( Jn.3:1-17)

Trinity Sunday

A father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which one of the five should have the present.  “Who is the most obedient?” he asked. “Who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?” 

Silence. 

Then all five kids shouted together,  “You play with it daddy.”

Fathers are pretty important, aren’t they?

And ‘Father ‘is up there with the ‘Son’ and the ‘Holy Spirit’ in the Trinity, the threefold God we Christians affirm .

We affirm the threefold God, but in worship, one person of God might  be emphasized more than the others, depending on which denomination you belong to. 

Some Christian denominations emphasize Jesus, and tend to downplay the Father or the Holy Spirit. Some emphasize  the Holy Spirit, downplaying the other two persons, whereas others emphasize worship of the Father. 

I think Anglicans tend not to emphasize Jesus, because doing so smacks of those television evangelists, with their floppy Bibles, and the way they use the name  ‘ Jeehhezzzus.’    

Anglicans  tend not to emphasize the Holy Spirit because that would call for being led by the Holy Spirit into some actions that don’t sit well with Anglicans. Like waving of arms,  ‘ dancing in the Spirit ‘  laughing out loud,  telling anyone and everyone who will listen, of the joy of the Spirit.

So for us it’s the Father. Or Mother. Creator of all things. God Almighty. ‘ Father ‘ is kind of  the least challenging, don’t you think?

I have to say, however, that I am not too comfortable with a theology which doesn’t challenge.  What is the point?

I remember as a teenager, listening to sermons, and waiting for the challenge. I remember one preacher, who always liked to finish with a challenge.  You knew a challenge  was coming because that paragraph always began with the words, ” May we……”

I have to confess ( to my shame)  that I was relieved when the ‘challenge’ didn’t really call for real effort..

Some research has been done into why one  person of the Trinity is routinely emphasized in a particular denomination.

There are clear signs that point to a particular preference and how that preference affects their theology, liturgy, and the way the community relates to the outside world.

There was research done on the subject some years ago. I don’t remember much about it, so won’t comment, right now,  but the fact that we may emphasize one person of the Trinity over the other two is a good reason for having Trinity Sunday on the calendar.

Trinity!!

Remember? 

We  worship the  God we know as  Father, and Son and  Holy Spirit.

After much debate and controversy the concept of the Trinity only became orthodox Christian doctrine dating from the Council of Nicaea in the year 325.

And Trinity Sunday is the  time when ‘we’ try to explain the complicated theology behind the concept of the Trinity, and is something ‘we’ preachers tend to avoid.  

Metaphors have been used, such as the stream of water that if you place your hand in it becomes three streams.  All streams emanate from the one source, and are of the same substance, and although they appear to be separate, are in fact one.

Another metaphor is the clover leaf. On the one shoot are three identical leaves. 

But I think that what really matters to us Christians is how the Father, Son and Spirit  are manifest,  in our lives.  What do the three persons of God mean to us personally? 

I remember at school, in a chemistry class, examining the chemical reactions that take place when soap is used in water. What about the calcium or chlorine in the water? What is the composition of the soap? What chemical reaction leaves that scum floating on the surface? 

The teacher took a long time getting us to follow his reasoning, and to figure out the equations.

Then one boy raised his hand. “Sir, how does the soap get your hands clean?” he asked.

The teacher replied, “Well…. I think it dissolves the sweat…. doesn’t it?

That question was about where the ‘rubber meets the road’ wasn’t it?

Where ‘the rubber meets the road ‘ for us, comes in the question – how does each person of God, specifically affect us, and how? 

Perhaps if we think of God as the head, Jesus as the heart, and the Spirit as the hands, it  might  help us to get at the answer.

God created the universe, and us, and placed us here on this His world. He loves us and wants us to live a life that is faithful to Him. In return for His loving us, we love Him, and try to live for Him.  This is the same God with whom the Israelites entered in covenant. “I will be your God and you will be my people,” He told them.

Further, He told them through Moses, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

The covenant involved obeying God’s law, and living as God’s people.

God asks the same of us, and promises the same to us.

This God, then, is a God we can understand, as we agree to live for Him – in covenant relationship as it is called. A God that we can reason about. And talk to.

And worship!

Of course, the Israelites, once they were in their own land broke the covenant. In fact they  broke it soon after it was made by creating a golden calf  and worshipping it, there in the wilderness,  before they ever came into their own land.

God the Father was like a great and good parent, but a parent against whom they, and we, could rebel.

He was in their head, but not in their heart.

It is more difficult to reason from the heart, but easier to love.

Jesus, by his life, and his love, and his sacrifice points us to God as our Redeemer, our Saviour.

And he explained this superbly, when he told the story of the Prodigal Son. 

You will remember that the younger son was given his inheritance, and straightway went out and  blew it all.

After living for a while as the equivalent of a street person, he came to his senses and went home to his father. He didn’t expect to be treated well. He had after all shamed his family, and himself. He hoped only to be treated as a servant in his father’s house.

But his father had missed him; had pined for him; had longed for his return.

And when the father finally caught a glimpse of his son, over there in the distance, he ran to him,  and embraced him, and welcomed him back, with celebration and reinstatement as a son of the family. 

God longs for, pines for, sorrows over, the rebellious and the wayward, and He goes more than halfway. Instead of punishing us, He takes our  punishment for us, and makes it easier for us to return.

That is God in the heart. Jesus the Son.

We become not slaves, nor servants, nor robots, forced to do His will  – we become children of God – in harmony with Him, and in communion with Him.

And if we are loving children of God, we want others to know Him the same way, and have the same benefits – to know Him as we know him.

One little boy was taking this idea very seriously. He was working hard on a drawing and his daddy asked him what he was doing. The little boy looked up from his pad, and said, “ Drawing a picture of God.”  His daddy said, “You can’t do that honey, no-one knows what God looks like.”

The little boy was undeterred. He looked at his drawing, added a few more strokes of his pencil, and said, “They will in a few minutes.”

We want to share our views about God with everyone else. We want people to know how fabulous it is to be loved by Him and to love Him back. We want people to know how liberating it is to bring the garbage of our lives to God, and not only to be forgiven but to be welcomed with open arms.

We want people to know how much fun it is to be a follower of Jesus.

And we get to this place by accepting God as Father;  accepting Jesus as  Saviour; and accepting the Holy Spirit as enabler.

The Spirit of Christ is what enabled David Livingstone to travel through darkest Africa; and other missionaries, likewise, to travel to the nethermost regions, of the world,  to bring knowledge of Christ .

Missionaries developed written languages where there weren’t any, and then translated the Bible into  those languages. They worked in tropical heat, or arctic cold. They worked with the light from candles, or whale oil lamps, fighting off weird and dangerous diseases – to bring to people – people like you and me – people from next door – down the street –the joy of  knowing God to those who knew him not.

Their willing hands were the hands of the Holy Spirit.

God here (head) Jesus here( heart) and the Holy Spirit here (hands).

One God – creating, loving, healing, forgiving, enabling, being – with us, His children in this world.

We are blessed in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

David Livingstone (/ˈlɪvɪŋstən/; 19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873) was a Scottish physician, Congregationalist, and pioneer Christian missionary[2] with the London Missionary Society, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. He had a mythic status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class “rags-to-riches” inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of British commercial and colonial expansion.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I Chose You.

The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to John.

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” John 15:9-17

As I Have Loved you.

In the last few weeks, the evangelist John has expounded on love. Today is no exception.   And John’s Gospel has Jesus’s words about love: ‘Love each other’. Love others as I have loved you’.The greatest way that you can show love for someone is to die for them.’

So let’s talk about love.  Or otherwise, and how it has played out during the recent past.  

In Palestine, militants attack Israel and Israel retaliates. The attacks are from a distance – rockets from the Palestinian side, and bombings from Israel.

Men women, children are killed, injured, homes destroyed.

India has many problems, not the least of which is trying to fight off Covid 19. But aside from that, it has been reported that in India, over fifty children a day are abducted. 

Here at home, some time ago, a commission spent months looking into the reason for the disappearance of over 4000 indigenous women here in Canada and was criticized for making slow progress. 

Parents who have lost their daughters complain about the lack of action by police when they report a daughter missing.

Why is this – all of this – and more – continuing to happen? 

The reasons are many. In India, hatred between different religious groups and a desire to strike at a hated group,  or maybe to cause friction between such groups, may contribute. 

In Canada’s north, grinding poverty in many communities, and the legacy of the residential schools, are cited.  

In developing countries – here in this developed country – no-one explanation can be found. 

However the objectification of people has to bear some of the blame.  

Once you see a person as an object, then you lose compassion. You lose any human feeling for that object.

During the time of Jesus, each Spring,  a Roman farmer would inspect his implements, his animals –  all the things needed for the planting season – and would discard anything that was damaged, worn out, or otherwise useless to him.  

This included his slaves. He would check out his slaves, and any who had become too old, or too lame, or too sick, would be turned out to fend for themselves.  With the same lack of passion  that he might show in throwing out a useless implement, he would throw out ‘useless’ slaves.

No matter that this slave had labored for him for years. No matter that this slave would be unable to fend for himself, or herself; out they would go. With no more thought than for any other object. The slave was merely an object, in the eyes of  the Roman farmer.  

It’s worth reminding ourselves that on this continent, slaves were also objects not too long ago. And some of their descendants are still being objectified. 

During the late nineteen thirties, Adolf Hitler began the process of getting rid of the Jews in Germany. He began to objectify them. He isolated them. Newspapers, and billboard propaganda denigrated them.  They were labeled by having to wear a yellow Star of David.

They were set apart.

They were objects.

Hitler’s objectification of the Jews was such a success that many ordinary Germans – normally ‘ good’ Germans – found it not too difficult to join him in trying to rid Germany of Jews. 

And assisted in the death camps.

Sad to say, seeing people as objects happens here, in our world, in our country.   And it causes much pain.

The city wants to turn a house into a halfway residence for people with emotional or psychological difficulties: a place where affected persons can be assisted in becoming re-integrated into society. But the neighbours protest, ‘We don’t want people like that in our community.’

People like that?

There, is a phrase that objectifies people. It makes them faceless, nameless, easy to hate, easy to hurt. 

Strangely enough, when the city has gone ahead over objections, and put such a residence into a neighborhood, and people have got to know their new neighbors, their hatred has dissipated.  Those ‘objects’ are now seen as real people, worthy of care.

I knew a man who professed to hate Arabs. He was quite vociferous about his feelings.  As far as he was concerned, they were all the same, all having the same bad traits. There was no arguing with him!

Then one day I saw him talking to his dry cleaner, who happened to be a Moroccan. So, I asked him, “If you hate Arabs, so much, how come you are friendly with Ali?

Oh, he said, “Ali is alright. He’s not like the rest.”

By virtue of their acquaintance, the Arab had become a person. No longer an object.  My friend couldn’t hate Ali.

See where this is going? If you see people as objects, it is easier to hurt them.

If you see them as people, it is not so easy to hurt  them.  You might even be able to love them.

As followers of Jesus- – today, he tells us that we are his friends – we are enjoined to love each other.

This will be the beginning of stopping the hatred that seems to fill the world.

But to stop the hurt in this world: to stop the hurt in this town, in our church, in our family, we have to stop seeing people as objects –   stop labeling them.

You know what I mean:

All Conservatives are out for themselves. Liberals have no principles.  

All gypsies are thieves.

My neighbour is a nasty person.

All Scotsmen are cheap.

Yorkshiremen are cheaper.

All Indians are drunks. 

All homosexuals are sexual predators.

And these are the milder epithets

Brothers and sisters, taking the hurt out of this world is a big job.

And frankly, there is only one way and that is to love people. All people? That might be too big for you and me, you might say.

But we could make a start, here at home, at work, when we are out and about.

Avoid stereotyping.   It means  looking  for ways to understand  someone rather than  condemning them out of hand. It means making a real effort to eliminate hatred,  rather than nurturing it.

The exploitive, sexploitive, explosive, violent nature of this world seems set so deep. that we despair of ever making a difference, let alone triumphing against it, but John tells us that we –  we- children of God can defeat the world, and it is our  faith that will give us the victory.

And you know, Jesus so loved us – and loved those who pervert this world too – that he willingly died for us, and them!

When Jesus tells us that the greatest way to show love for our friends is to die for them,  he is illustrating how much we have to love them.

Well, we might give up our life for a member of our family. Or a really close friend.  But who would willingly die for a stranger?

PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) – The French policeman who was shot three times after voluntarily taking the place of a hostage during a supermarket siege in south-western France on Friday has died, France announced on Saturday (March 24).

Arnaud Beltrame, who once served in Iraq, had been raced to hospital fighting for his life after the siege in which he took the place of a female hostage at the Super U store in the town of Trebes, near the Pyrenees mountains. 

“He fell as a hero, giving up his life to halt the murderous outfit of a jihadist terrorist,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement shortly before dawn on Saturday. 

So someone did! 

Give up his life for a stranger.

Perhaps Arnaud Beltrame felt he had no choice.

Because, as Jesus says, “You did not choose me. I chose you.

And, he continues, ” I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

Well alright, you say, but I don’t have the skills, the words, the strength.

In a church meeting I attended – where discussion was about the sad state of their financial affairs, a motion was made that a sum of money that had been donated yearly to a home for women – mothers and their children escaping violence – be terminated, the mood was solemn, and it seemed that the motion would pass denying that support.

Then a woman stood up and made an impassioned plea,  speaking  so eloquently, and movingly, that everyone decided that that the donation must be continued.

Afterward I congratulated her on her speech, its eloquence, and persuasiveness.

She replied, ” I have never spoken up at a meeting, before, I have always been afraid to do so. I don’t know what came over me.”

“I chose you!.”

And when he chooses us, he gives us the power!.

Amen.

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