Sermon podcast: 3 before Lent3 Feb 2020 By Sermon Podcasts
Nigel Taylor, Rector in the Kidderminster Ismere Team.
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Things are going as you like them; no problems, all of your plans are going well; you can rightly feel proud of how things are going. Not missed a service for a long time; keeping up with daily readings and prayers. Life is good and I am doing well. But how about those around us? How about those who are not doing so well? Alternatively, things may not be going well and so many things are getting in the way of what you want to be doing. Everyone else seems to be sorted so why are things not going right for me?
I know that I have been in both of these positions and a host of variations on this theme. There are times when we can become consumed with ourselves and forget what it is to be a person of faith following the commandments of God; “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself”. This, in essence, is what Isaiah is shouting out in today’s reading. He is telling the people of God very clearly that they are missing the point; they are not seeing the wood for the trees as they serve their own interest and not those of the people around them. It is also the focus of teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5 as he likens those around him to ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’. When salt has lost its salty taste, it is of no purpose and when light is hidden it has lost its reason for being. But how does saltiness and light relate to you and me? Well for me this points to just one thing: a return to those 2 commandments I quoted earlier which are all about love.
As we journey along our path of life, God calls us to do all we do in the name of love. We are called to love God and all of our fellow human’s and this, when achieved, is what the Kingdom of God will look like. Have you ever noticed how good it feels when we do the right thing out of love or else we witness an act carried out in love? The heart warms and we feel a great sense of peace.
At the moment, with all going on around us in our country and across the world, it seems we are far from this with war and violence, greed and selfishness being rife in the news we read, hear and watch. It would be easy to believe that humanity as a whole had lost its saltiness, that it has become bland and tasteless without joy, and for some just a chore that has to be endured: and also that the light of love has been almost completely covered by the stories of avarice, power and oppression of so many people. But there are glimmers that shine through where love is winning.
I see on a regular basis, examples of the sharing of love; breaking the yoke as Isaiah describes it that holds people in difficult places. To mention just a few: I see people who visit neighbours, who do their shopping or take them to hospital appointments. I see teachers who go out of their way to ensure children are safe and are given every opportunity to learn and thrive and health care professionals who do their best in very difficult circumstances to ease suffering and bring hope and peace to those in need. These people are reaching across the divisions of our society to bring love into the lives of those in need and that is precisely what we, as followers of Christ, are called to do and in fact succeed in doing on a regular basis. For those who are receiving the love, the taste of salt is very real and their lives are illuminated in the light of the love of God. The darkness all around often overshadows this good work however and what we are called to do is watch for these signs of God’s love and join in where ever and whenever we can to preserve the recognisable salty taste of God’s love and ensure the light of Christ, the light of love shines clearly in the darkness.
Can you see glimmers of the light of Christ’s love in your life or around it? Is the saltiness of that love apparent to you? How can you ensure that the saltiness can overcome the bland taste of life for so many and how can you uncover the light of Christ’s love.