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Count On It!

“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.

Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:24-37



It may surprise you to know, although then again, it might not, that I was not brought up in the Anglican church. My mother and father were “Chapel..”

“Chapel” meant small churches that didn’t indulge in the ritual of the mainline churches, believed the Bible literally  and preached about the end of days as if they were just around the corner.   Many of them were very adamant about the suffering that would take place, especially by the ungodly, on that great day.

And they also wanted people to know that it could happen  – Jesus would return – at any time. Like to tomorrow!

I tell you, as a child I found such stuff very scary – and I hadn’t done anything wrong – yet!

One of the more notable preachers in that denomination was a Rev. Ravenscliffe.

He was often invited to preach when a number of chapels got together once a year as they did, and met in the very large Salvation Army Citadel in Oldham

The building was massive, and as well as a large amount of seating at the ground level, had two balconies. It had probably been a theatre at one time.

Anyway there was a time when  Rev. Ravenscliffe was preaching in the Citadel,, and he chose as his text the verses that lead into the Gospel reading we had today:

Nations shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, There will be earthquakes, there will be famine…….

……..and in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and so on and so on.

And they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds, with much power and glory.

And Rev. Ravenscliffe expounded on this theme in a loud and querulous voice.

Unbeknownst to the people sitting there, Rev Ravenscliffe had arranged for a Salvation Army trumpeter to be  in the uppermost balcony, with his trumpet.

And when Rev Ravenscliffe voice was raised the highest he shouted out, ” And The trumpet of the Lord will sound, ” the trumpeter in the uppermost balcony played a loud fanfare on his trumpet.

Most people were startled almost out of their wits.

They looked up in wonder and surprise, expecting to see Jesus coming in the clouds.

I imagine some of them nearly had heart attacks.

Others may have cried at the idea of leaving loved ones behind.

Some  may have had a feeling of fear because they were afraid of being left behind.

And so on.

The only thing we know for sure, is that for a moment, people thought the end days had come.

Were some of them ready?

Were some of them so living their lives that they had no fear of being taken up?

Were some suddenly cognizant of not being ready because of unresolved issues, unforgiven sins, unrepaired relationships?

I wonder how many of us here would react?

Are we ready?

If Jesus were to show up today, would we go with him, or hang back because this life has too much of a hold on us?

Too much to leave behind?

Today is a sort of schizophrenic day, isn’t it?

It is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the lead up to Christmas, when we aren’t looking forward to the end of time, but to celebrating the birth of Jesus at his first coming.

The beginning of time, in a way.

So why do we have these words of Jesus selected for us to hear in today’s Gospel? At the beginning of Advent.

We are looking forward to a happy time, a joyous time, a jolly time, a time when we are especially close to family, aren’t we?

Not being called away without any time to pack our bags!!

Not looking forward to the end of the world.

The end of the world came to the people of Pompeii in 76 AD  when Vesuvious erupted and covered the city in lava,  Two thousand people died, and the city was abandoned. It wasn’t until 1748 that explorers rediscovered the city.

Under the ash and lava they found a city pretty much intact, and have been able to excavate and discover much about life in Pompeii at that time.

One of the things discovered in an almost intact home, was the figure of a woman reaching out to something, but entombed in lava.

It seems that after the alarm was sounded, and with people having only seconds to spare, she had gone back for her jewelry and was enveloped in the deadly lava.

There is a lesson for us there isn’t there?

About what is really important.

No-one knows when that dread – or joyful – day will come.  No one!

But in the 1925 the Watchtower, the  newspaper of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was  prophesied that the world was about to end. I think the phrase used

was,  “Many now living will never die.”

And as we know, they were wrong.

Jesus, when asked by his disciples when that day would come, said only the Father knew, not even the Son of Man knew. .

Mother Shipton among many others prophesied the time the world would end, but all have been wrong.

It’s a waste of time.

Better to look  forward.

That’s what Advent  is all about – it’s about looking forward. The word itself means “coming” as in the ‘advent of the computer’,’ the advent of spring.’

For us it means the coming of our Lord.

And that is something to look forward to and to celebrate.

And to note – the coming of Jesus, and why?

Why did Jesus come into the world?

Why did God send a child, a human into the world?

There are billions of stars in our galaxy and there are numberless galaxies.

Some have suns that have planets around them that could support life as we know it.

But they are so far away.,

And out of all that numberless infinity of worlds, how did God choose this one?

From what has been going on in this world, the tragedies, the wars, the killings the bombings, the rapes and murders, all the awful stuff we read about, and sometimes may experience. How could God even care about us as a race?

Well he sent someone to show us how to live …..and how to die, didn’t he?

And although there are so many who have never heard,  or if they have heard have never heeded his example, and his sacrifice, and who do such horrible things, there are many many more, many many more who have known Jesus and have listened to him, and have aspired to follow him, and do today, and in this dark world, in this country, and in this town and in this church – numberless!!

God told Abraham that his progeny would be as numberless as the grains of sand upon the shore. 

Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and many others are living the lives that Jesus epitomized, even if they wouldn’t admit it.

You don’t know it but the person standing in line ahead of you in the supermarket could be one of us.

I have been going to my dentist for twenty or so years. I just found out this week that he is a practicing Christian – a  United church one, mind you – that he prays faithfully every night and tries to live as Christ would have him live.

So its not only the man or woman ahead of you in  line, it is also the man or woman with their hand in your mouth.

And I thought why didn’t he tell me?  How come I didn’t know?

He told me about other things. In fact while he is working on your teeth, he goes on about the news of the day and he asks you questions. You can’t speak but he asks those questions.

So one day after he had finished, I said, ” Yes, No, Maybe, or maybe not, I can’t think right now.”  And he looked at me and asked, ” What do you mean?” I said, ” I am answering all the questions you asked me while I couldn’t speak. “

He took it good spirit, of course.
But this week when I found out he was a practicing Christian I thought about how he always had a smile, and how his staff seem so happy to be working for this man, and are always so nice and polite and helpful – as he is.

And that I don’t feel ripped off by the work he does and bills me for.

Those are signs of Christian principles, aren’t they?

Praise God that he has many such people as you and me, and my dentist and your neighbour, and the people at Binbrook United, and Knox Presbyterian, and in the local synagogue or mosque.

Millions of people doing his will

Not all who believe in Jesus

Not all who believe in God, because there are many atheists who live in loving ways and relationship, and do good work.

So why be Anglican, or why be Chapel, as my family was?

Because the way we worship,  and the way we come together as people, and the things we try to do in his name, and the way we remember what His Son did, and commemorate each Sunday in worship and in the Eucharist, all these things bring us closer to the God we love and who loves us, and helps us to live as he would have us live.

Just as other good people find their own way to paradise.

We don’t need trumpet fanfares to awake us to the coming of Jesus.

We don’t need panic merchants trying to scare us.

We have loving fellowship to reassure us if and when we have doubts, or needs, or troubled times in our lives.

That’s why we are here when you think about it, and that is why they

( whoever they are) are there ( wherever there, is) – standing on the road, holding a road sign that says ‘stop’, or’ go’, putting your stuff through the register, or holding a drill in his hand read to plunge into your decayed tooth- with anesthetic, of course, because he doesn’t want to hurt you.

However and who ever, we are God’s own, and this Advent, this waiting for the birth of Jesus, this season of preparation and anticipation, is something we treasure and look forward to in these dark wintry days.

Hold onto it.

Spring is sure to follow.  

Count on it.


Who’s A Silly Goat?

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink ,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 31-46

There is good news in today’s Gospel for all of us.  How God judges us will not depend on how much we know, or how famous we are, or how much  money we have managed to put away during our life. We will simply be judged on the help we have given to someone.  

That’s it!

And not only that, but  any help that we give can be simple in nature – – a meal to a hungry person,  a drink to someone who is thirsty, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting someone in prison. 

Nothing big. Nothing earth-shaking.  

Oh, and the help we give has to be given without thought of self. 

Remember this in the text?  “ When did we give you something to eat, Lord? When did we welcome you as a stranger, or give you clothes to wear, or visit you when you were sick, or in jail?”

The answer: “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

These chosen, did what they did, not for reward, or for thanks, or to score brownie points up in Heaven. They were simply helping others  –  out of the goodness of their hearts –    without knowing they were actually helping  God.

Those rejected by God – the goats – asked a similar question, “ Lord, when did we fail to help you, when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked, or sick or in jail?”

The king replies, ‘Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”

You can almost hear the goats saying, ‘Well, if we had known it was you……..of course we would have helped out!’

But if you help someone simply  to get something in return, you have done it out of selfishness.  

The real key here then, is how to do things unselfishly.   And it’s not that easy.

Because we all appreciate being  thanked. We all like recognition.  

It’s human nature, isn’t it, to expect gratitude for something we do for someone?  

How many hospitals have wings named after rich donors?

How do we learn to give without being asked?   How do we give selflessly – and  continue to do so, and not need to hear a word of thanks?

The only way is to emulate God. 

Because the plain fact is, that God loves us all, and what He sends,  what He gives,  – be it good weather, good crops, a job that pays the rent  – whatever He gives, He gives to everybody.  

The sun shines on the good and the bad and the indifferent. 

Because He loves   us.   Everyone of    us.

That miserable guy who works in that store just down the road?  God loves him! 

That lady who shoved her buggy ahead of yours and scraped your knee, as she raced you for the empty check-out?  God loves her!

That so-called friend who is always borrowing money and forgetting to repay it?  You got it – He loves him too!

With an all-encompassing love. 

So the clue then, is for us, followers of Jesus, to try and love like that.  

To help others – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick  and those in prison, just out of love for them.  

And we do that by loving God in Jesus.

And that flows naturally from our gratitude to God. 

I have to confess  I am not always grateful to God.  I say a Grace at mealtimes, and I do give thanks in my evening prayers, but in the normal daily routine, busy doing stuff, I forget that it is God who provides everything.  I sometimes think I do it myself.

I just forget.  

But sometimes, sometimes, I see the light, and my gratitude just bursts forth.    

Like that Vermont farmer sitting on the porch one evening with his wife. He was  beginning to realise  how much she meant to him. It was about time, for they had lived together forty-two years, and she had been such a help, such a very willing worker.

He couldn’t hold it in any longer.   He just out and said it, “Wife” he said, ” You’ve been such a wonderful woman that there are times I can hardly keep from telling you.”

It behooves us to recognise what God has done in our lives.  It behooves us to be grateful, and in return,  to assist others.  And to delight God.

He is our great Father. The way to delight a parent is to help their child.

Sometimes though we lose sight of the parent. 

A little boy was playing hide and seek, with some friends.  For some unknown reason, while he was hiding, the others stopped playing. If it has ever happened to you, you know what that’s like. You feel so hurt.  He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house to see what was wrong.

After learning what had happened, the old man told his grandson, “ Don’t cry, my child, because the other boys didn’t come and find you.  Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment.

“You see, all of life is like a game between God and us. Only it is God who is weeping, for we are the ones not playing the game fairly.

“ Like you in that game, God is waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”

Pretty soon we will be celebrating Christmas – the time when God came to earth in the guise of a baby.   We could easily lose sight of Him in all the clutter, and all the rushing, and all the spending, around Christmas.

God is becoming harder and harder to find in Christmas. Didn’t I read that God  has been banned from being part of the holiday in some places?  Toronto now calls its Christmas tree a Holiday Tree.  And how’s that’s song go, “It’s beginning to feel a lot like holiday.”

In all the clutter, how will we ever find Him?

And if we don’t find Him, what will happen to us?

I’ll tell you what will happen to us. We will become goats.

One of the most powerful images I remember from my childhood came from the movie Pinocchio. Do you remember the part where the unscrupulous fairground owner gathers up boys who are lost, and introduces them to smoking? There they are smoking big fat cigars as they ride the roller coaster.  It seemed so evil at the time. 

Do you remember what happened to the boys? They grew donkey ears.  They were gradually turning into donkeys. 

There was a powerful message in that cartoon movie. One which relates to our Gospel story today.

Losing God  results in our becoming selfish  –  with no thought for others.

And if we do nothing about that sad condition, we will not only grow long ears, but also  two horns and a scraggly beard.

We will become goats!!

And we heard what happens to goats in the parable our Lord told.

They find themselves in that outer darkness.  That sounds cruel, doesn’t it?  But  if I turn my back on Jesus, I am choosing to turn away from the light, aren’t I?  And if I turn away from the light, then naturally I am going to find myself out there in the darkness.

It’s not that God punishes us so much, as that by our own actions, we put ourselves beyond His love. 

Paul knew what was needed, didn’t he?

‘I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you His Spirit.

‘The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.

‘My prayer is that Light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given you  when God chose you –get that? When God chose you!

‘Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours, together with all God’s people.’

If our hearts are open, and if the Spirit of God can make His home there, then we will be unable to resist  reaching out to those who need our help, lovingly, unselfishly – instinctively. 

And in doing so, will return to God a small but valuable portion of  what He has done for us.,  because: –

Whatever you do for these the least of my children, you do for me.’  Amen.

Christian Life

Last week I erroneously produced my sermon/blog and posted it with this week’s readings.     To try and get back into sinc, I am this week reproducing a Pastor’s Study which appeared in our local paper, some time ago.                               

                                           Pastor’s Study     

I once  read that 63% of all Canadians are taking some sort of supplement. Most take vitamins; but herbs, and other medications are being taken by people who want to be healthy, have younger-looking skin, maintain their youth, do away with aches and pains and so on.

Some of these supplements are beneficial, and some may not be, and we should check with our  physician before taking them. 

But what does it profit a person to be physically fit if they are spiritually sick?

Some physically fit people commit suicide. Not too many sick people do. They know the value of life.

Plenty of  physically fit people live unhappy lives.

Many physically fit people get into trouble. (You don’t see too many people in wheelchairs being wheeled into court.) 

Being physically fit is fine, but it’s more important to be spiritually fit.

To keep ourselves spiritually fit, we need to stay connected to Christ through attending church regularly, daily prayer, bible reading, meditation, self-examination, Christian fellowship and so on.

It’s called  ‘abiding in Christ.’  

The evangelist John tells us that  when we abide in Christ  we find ourselves loving God and loving others. Others that we might not have loved normally.   

In fact he says, “ Those who say they love God and yet hate their brothers or sisters are liars. If you can’t love those whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen?’”

The only way to become a loving person is by abiding in Him and being fed by Him. 

I have had a ficus plant for a long time. It has been there.  Barely. Although I dutifully watered it, and turned the pot around weekly, it never grew. It looked the same after fifteen years as the day I bought it.  Then I saw my wife using a product on her outdoor plants, called Miracle Grow. I tried feeding my ficus plant with it, and all of a sudden it began to grow like Topsy. We had to cut it back using garden clippers. It looked like it might take over the house.   

All the time I was just watering it, it was starving.  But once it was fed, there was no holding it back.

It’s easy to be a ficus kind of Christian, isn’t it?   Just kind of ‘there.’ Doing nothing. Just ‘there.’

I know Christians like that, as I am sure you do.

We all need to be fed don’t we?  

Because the truth is that God doesn’t need ‘ficus Christians’. He needs Christians who want to grow, and he offers to feed us with the spiritual food that will enable us to grow, and be fruitful.   

And that, my brothers and sisters, is the meaning of life. Christian life, that is. 


We Are Here For A Good Time

The Gospel of  Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Matthew

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.

In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.
But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”   (Matthew 25:14-30)


.When Jesus  tells the parable of the three servants given different sums of money to invest, he has in mind that the fellow who was given the least, and took it and hid it in the ground really represented the Pharisees and the Scribes in their attitude to the law and religion. 

Just like the servant who preserved the one piece of money he had been entrusted with. Their whole aim was to keep the law exactly as it was.

They would tell you themselves that they wanted to  build a fence around the law. To make sure it wouldn’t be changed.

So the man who is punished in that parable is the man who will not try.  Who will not risk.  Likes the status quo.

And this parable lays down a profound truth.  To the one who has, more will be given, and the one who has not will lose even that.

It means that if you have a talent and exercise it, then you will be able to do progressively more.  But if you don’t exercise it then you will surely lose it.

Even at the height of his success and fame, Tiger Woods could be seen still practicing on the driving range after everyone else had gone to bed.   

If we have a proficiency at a game or an art, the more we exercise that gift, the better we get. If we fail to use it, we lose it.

This is the same for golf, singing songs,  playing an instrument, baking pies, or even writing sermons. The only way to hold onto a gift is to use it, preferably in the service of God. 

Those of us who are followers of Jesus have been giving a special gift. We have been given, right into our hands, a love so special and so gracious that it can change our whole life.  

This love is something that we celebrate, coming to church,  as we  worship, praising God, and enjoying the peace and the joy which comes from having received that gift of life.

But here is the kicker – we are asked to take the love that God has given us, in His Son Jesus, and share it with someone else.

I bet you hadn’t thought of that! 

And when we do, we don’t have to worry about  His love running out, because it is not possible to give away all the love that God gives us.

The more you give, the more you will get!

I imagine the sharing of God’s love as like someone with a light in their hands, pouring some of that light into the hands of another, and that second person likewise pouring some of that light into the hands of another and so on.

A little bit like Christmas Eve  when we light one or two candles from the large pastoral candle and pass the light around to all those who have been given tapers. The light slowly fills the room, the way the light of Christ fills the world.

The love of God is the most valuable gift we have been given.

But there are unique gifts that God has also given to each of us, and which we can use to spread that love, that light,  throughout the world.

Maybe we have the gift of friendliness.  You know what I mean. Some people seem to be able to speak to anyone at any time on any subject. And be received warmly.

If that person is a follower of Jesus and doesn’t use that gift to share His love with others, then they are hiding their talent in the ground.

Some people have a gift of hospitality. You know the type. They can bake a pie in the blink of an eye, and make any guest feel truly welcome.  Or bring a person they have just met into their home and make them feel they have been friends for ever.

If people with that gift don’t use it to help share the love that Jesus has given them, then they too have taken their gift and hidden it in the ground.

Some people have the gift of teaching.

Some have the gift of comforting.

Some have the gift of making money.

Some have the gift of organizing.

These are all gifts that can be used in the church, and even more importantly, outside the church,  to spread the love of Jesus and to bring people to worship and praise Him and to become part of the community of those who are followers of Jesus.

Now Paul tells us that the Lord’s return will be as quiet and as surprising as a visit by a burglar.

So what if on the way home after this service, we heard that trumpet sound, and the heavens open, and the voices of choirs of angels, and saw Jesus coming in clouds of glory.

Imagine being taken before the throne, and hearing the person next to you being asked by God, “ What did you do with the gift I gave you.” and hearing the reply, “I took that gift and I used it to bring knowledge of your love to ten others.”

And then you hear the person on the other side being asked the same question. “ What did you do with the gift I gave you?” and hearing the reply, “I took that gift and used it to bring the light of Christ to five others.”

And then it’s your turn, and God says to you, “ What did you do with the gift I gave to you?”   And you say, “Well, I didn’t do anything with it really. I  was busy doing a lot of other things and I just didn’t get around to using my gift to help someone else share in your love.

“Basically I guess I was just too scared to use it …..……….”  and  your voice fades away in embarrassment.

But that wouldn’t be someone from my church. I have seen the gifts that have been showered on many,  and how they are used.

But none of us is perfect.  Sometimes I think we may have had it too easy.  And if you are normal you want it to be easy. I do.

And we don’t want anything to change. 

We don’t like change at home, we don’t like it in our lives, and we certainly don’t like it in religion.

For some of us, it’s like this: ‘I have just found myself a nice little niche. I sit in the same seat every week, and I have figured out how to use bulletin, and that green sheet, and the hymn book and that was hard enough, and now I don’t look  confused any more, so for Pete’s sake don’t change anything.

“I like things as they are.’ “

But that’s not life. That’s vegetating. And you know what they do with vegetables, don’t you?

Being a follower of Jesus is supposed to be an adventure, not a retirement.

Being a follower of Jesus is supposed to be the start of something good.

Remember that song by Herman’s Hermits, “ dee de de dee de dee dee dee    ….I’m onto something good.”

That’s how we ought to be as Christians – WE ARE ONTO SOMETHING GOOD.    For Pete’s sake!.

It’s waking up to a new world, a new way of being.

Imagine when Jesus was here. Imagine living in that time, and hearing that he was going to be coming by. People would get up early, get dressed and rush out and down to the road on which he was expected to walk.  Or to the side of a hill, because he often used a hill from which to teach.  

We meet Jesus each week in the Eucharist.

Right at that altar rail. 

So do we waken on Sunday morning with a sense of enthusiasm, and joy and rush to get ready to come down and meet Jesus?   I am sure some of us do, but maybe not every week. 

We also meet Jesus daily in the people we meet.

That’s right.

So do we get up in the week and think with joyful anticipation of seeing him in the face of someone we meet? 

We have a chance to model Jesus in how we show our faces to the world today.

Do we get up and get ready, shine up the face and get ready to show Jesus to the world?

And if the answer is ‘no’ then why not?’

Where is our sense of adventure?

We get used to things, don’t we? And there is nothing wrong with that.  We know about Jesus. We have heard about him every week. Tell me something I haven’t heard before. 

We may have lost the excitement  and wonder of knowing Jesus. 

The rationality of this world gets in the way of the wonders of the next world.

You might talk about Jesus to someone, and someone who hears you may point to their head, like this .. meaning you are crazy….but they are pointing at themselves aren’t they? .

I heard about a church in the middle of Philadelphia. This church was right there in the middle of the city and used to be a church for middle-class white people. As those  people left for the suburbs, and more black people came into the city, the church demographic changed.

The congregation is now almost totally black. Not completely – there is one white family still attending.  They refuse to move.

I heard about a funeral there. 

The casket was open during the service. The minister addressed the congregation but he also addressed the deceased person, we will call Clarence. Lying there!

He would look at Clarence and ask, “Do you remember, Clarence, when you started teaching in Sunday School? You were so scared because you had never taught before?    And we knelt, right over there at that altar rail, and asked God to give you the gift of teaching?

And you took that Sunday School from six pupils to over a hundred?

Remember that Clarence?

And then you joined the choir and used your rich bass to enliven the music of that choir. And now our choir is constantly being asked to perform all over the state.

Remember that Clarence?

We do, don’t we folks?

Praise the Lord Clarence, you were a great asset to the Lord.

And he would go on like that.

And at the end of the funeral service, the minister said, “ Goodbye Clarence” and banged the lid of the casket down with a loud bang, “You will be  with the Lord in Glory, in the morning!!”

And the congregation shouted ‘Hallelujah.’

And they sang joyous songs, songs that said ‘Goodbye,’ but songs that told of their deep belief that Clarence was indeed going to a beautiful, happy joyous, place where space had been reserved for him by his Lord Jesus.

The feeling was real that Clarence had been on a great  adventure, and now he was going on a new adventure, one even more exciting than the one he experienced serving the Lord here in earth.

The attitude that Clarence showed, tells of what it is to be a follower  of Jesus.

It can be scary if you are called to do something new.

But it’s an adventure, a joy ride, a time to live and to let everyone know you are living,   living in the love of Christ.  And when it’s over the joy continues – in another place.

You know there are people whose job it is, to devise and design ever more scary roller coasters to petrify the riders.

First there was the highest, then the longest, then the twistiest, and then the upside-down ride, and then the fastest, twistiest- upside- down- through-the-water ride.

When you are on that ride and you feel your heart thumping in your chest, and a scream squeezes through your clenched teeth, then you know you are alive. 

You just don’t know for how long!

There are things that we know we should do as followers of Jesus. Things we are too nervous to do. Things that  scare us.  Like one of those rides.

But imagine if you did. Imagine the way your heart would beat, and how your pulse would race, doing something you had been too scared to do before.

Live dangerously for God. Live adventurously for God.

We are here for a good time, not a long time.     Don’t anybody tell me that eighty is a long time. ‘Cause it flies when you are enjoying it!

Talk to someone about how Jesus has changed your life. Tell someone who needs His love that you will pray for them.  Better still pray with them.

Feel the thrill of being right there doing what He wants  you to do, and something you have been scared to do until now. Feel your pulse race, your heartbeat quicken.

And if someone asks why you are smiling all the time, don’t tell them that you have just remembered the joke the minister told last Sunday, tell them that it is the love of Jesus bubbling up in you.

And let it out!

Dig it up and let it flow forth and multiply two fold, five fold, a hundred fold.

And then on that great day which is surely coming, instead of hiding your face you will  proudly hold up your head and  say, “Yeah God. Did I do a  good job for you !!”

And He might say, ” Great. Good Job. Go over  there, and meet Clarence! “

Amen and Hallelujah.