Rev Alison’s Inspiring Sermon

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Gospel Reading: Luke 12:49-56

Division. Describing division to a class of 5 year olds is best illustrated with a pizza. We have the whole and we share or divide it between children. The whole becomes many pieces. And so it is within families, communities, countries, the world, Jesus warns, a rippling effect as the whole is divided in too many different parts. But unlike division with 5 year olds where all the parts are equal, division amongst the people in the world causes injustice and unrest.

Jesus lived in turbulent times. The Romans had built their Empire around the Mediterranean. It was an empire funded by a corrupt tax system. A system where the tax payers had no say in how their money would be spent.

Jesus talks about reading the signs of the time.  The Jews predicted the weather by the signs in the sky; clouds in the west meant rain was on the way and the south wind blowing from the desert signified a scorching wind.

Jesus saw the signs, the realities and concerns that occupied his community. Issues of wealth, poverty, status, power.

Jesus had been performing one sign after another, through the power of His teaching, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, calming the storms, liberating people…

Yet, the Pharisees and the high Priests were so fixed in their ways that they were unable to see the unfolding that God was present amongst them, in Jesus.

There is a famous song called Imagine which was written and composed by John Lennon. The meaning of the song is simple. It reflects on living with no governments, no religion, and no possessions. No war, hate or poverty ONLY World peace. It was a way to let go of the things that divide the human race and focus and work towards building a world free of any differentiating factors. Although written in 1971, it could still be relevant today. As we hear the song, let us think ‘How do we see ourselves and others in the world?’

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.

‘IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE LIVING FOR TODAY.’ Jesus asked ‘why do you not know how to interpret the present time?’ The signs were there. The signs are here, with us. In our own communities there are families struggling, people sleeping rough, there is loneliness, people housebound, elderly people in need of love and care, the unemployed, and many more groups which could be mentioned. The choices we make can make a difference to allow communities to flourish and for all to enjoy life in all of its fullness.  The Church finds itself in a unique place in society, in being able to bring the power of God’s love into tackling poverty in many different ways, according to the needs of each communityTo make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

‘IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE LIVING LIFE IN PEACE.’ Division and separation. We live in a divided world, there is prejudice, racism, political corruption.  Boundaries are seen across the world. People suffer because they feel alone or separated. Countries fight for power, at the cost of their people. The gap between the poorest nations and the richest nations is widening. People are fleeing their countries, leaving all they have ever known, in search for a safer and more fulfilling life. Are we ready to welcome them?  Can we see the world as a gift to be shared? Carlos Santana, a musician, hoped and sang, “One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart.”

Peace without justice is no peace at all. Unity without love at its heart will not hold.

Being a Christian in some countries carries a price. By saying we are Christians we are already becoming divided with other people. Our lives now try to reflect the teachings of Jesus. There is a short story, illustrated with Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad sitting on a cloud, it says, ‘Who is going down this time to explain them again, you, you or me?

Buddha was not a Buddhist,

Jesus was not a Christian,

Muhammad was not a Muslim.

They were teachers who taught love. Love was their religion.’ True religion should not divide.

In these ‘present times’ if we walk away from the hurting world, saying ‘nothing can be done,’ nothing will be done.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

‘IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE SHARING ALL THE WORLD.’ If the kingdom of God is to come on earth as it is in Heaven, part of the prophetic message of the church is to understand the events of the earth and seek to address them. If we become too cosy and comfortable in our own lives, perhaps we need a passage like todays to challenge us on our lifestyles, our attitudes and our motives. It matters to God how we live. Imagine life without your mobile phone, your TV, your car, your comforts – I wonder if you can?

So in a world where there are so many challenges, how will we interpret the signs, and, more importantly, how will we respond?

The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation is prayed every Friday at noon outside in the ruins, at the Cathedral, and in many other places around the world. It has a simple response… Father Forgive

Let us Pray…

THE COVENTRY LITANY OF RECONCILIATION

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,

Father, forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,

Father, forgive. 

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,

Father, forgive. 

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,

Father, forgive. 

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,

Father, forgive. 

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,

Father, forgive. 

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,

Father, forgive.  

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Perhaps this is something for us to take away today and pray at some time in the week.

Imagine a world with NO divisions.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

God, give us hearts to hear and heal our divisions.
Grow us into the people you dream.

And the world will be as one.
Amen.