Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dedications for LPG

Matthew 5: 27-30

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
As many of you know I have been preparing a sermon on Sex. I am not sure if I will ever find either the courage or opportunity to actually give it but I thought I would give you a flavour.
The reading is one considered but rejected for this sermon, so when I accidently volunteered for the dedications to start this evening I thought I could share some thoughts on it.
So who is up for a little show!

You have preaching at you, right now, the closest thing you get now a day to an insane, Old Testament style prophet any church can find. I am sure I could get my hands on a fairly good knife and I am sure some good reverent or other would be okay to bless the fire.

Come on Brothers and sisters roll up, one quick cut and redemption and salvation can be yours, simple and quick and actually entertaining. What’s this, this passage is not supposed to be taken literally; it is a metaphor for the power of Christ. It means the old self will die and be burned and the new self will be better for it.
I have my doubt this passage is quite that tame but let us play the timid game, and ask ourselves one simple question. If we believe this is a metaphor why do we seek people actually do it. On not with actually factual knives and real flesh but something more precious than simple flesh, their souls, their very nature, their own selfhood?

I should know, in my foolishness as a young man I took the template of the perfect Christian and cut myself to fit. Anything that was unworthy of this template was cut off. Of course that which was most offensive to the church (well to be fair the one I saw on the telly) was anything sexual so that had to go, that had to be scourged.

I am not alone, what do you think those who don’t fit the template we have set do? They either mutilate themselves or leave. Homosexuals in the US seek a cure!  Prolife Christians perish rather than commit murder, peace loving Christians join the army to defend the faith, the week parade as the strong and the merciful ape the sometimes merciless church.

I promised this address would be short and so short it will be. We must be faithful to the scripture but we must not confuse the ideals set forth in divine revelation as anything other than an ideal to reach for. They depict the perfected end project set forth by God and only realizable when we ascend into God kingdom
On this earth the church has a different calling, the call of Christ. We must not shame, or exile those who fall short of God ideals for that is humanity, for they are the people Christ came to call. He came for the sinners; he came for the prostitutes, the forgotten, the dirty and the broken.

When I think of Christ, I think of him upon the cross and I remember once a preaching talking of the image of Christ on the cross and he said “this is not an image of man killing God, it is one of God unlimited forgiveness, look Christ arms are open to embrace the world who is rejecting him, look again Christ is forgiving those who are killing him”.

So let us end with scripture, and to Hosea Hosea 6 6
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
    and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Let us not make sacrifices of the faithful anymore, let us not make the ideals of scriptures moral measurements, so we the fallen, feel safe to judge others against them. Let us instead like Christ embrace a fallen world and embrace and redeem those who fall short of God’s ideal. And be lifted together to the kingdom to be one of the body eternal.

Prayer based on Hosea 6 1-3
 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
We have torn ourselves to pieces
    but he will heal us;
We have injured ourselves
    but he will bind up our wounds.
We have murdered ourselves
2 After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will restore us,
    that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.”
We shall walk with him as his children
To sacrifice, to kill, to injure no more
And there will be no more weeping or mourning
For the old order has passed away
For God’s kingdom has come