All Saints Day

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Sermon: 

Hello, my name is Nigel Taylor and I am the Team Rector for the parish of Kidderminster Ismere

Our gospel reading for All Saints day is taken from Luke’s version of Jesus sharing the beatitudes, the beautiful attitudes with his newly chosen disciples. They have witnessed him heal and teach and this is, in essence, a foundational lesson for them: laying out the implications of their actions and the way they live their lives. Two things strike me about this reading They are the instructions: Love your enemies and Do to others as you have them do to you. Both of these statements challenge the person hearing them to take stock of how they behave and relate to other people. This is not in some abstract way, as Jesus provides the listeners with concrete examples of how they should act in certain circumstances:

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you, if anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also and from anyone who takes your coat do not withhold your shirt. Give to anyone who begs from you and if anyone takes away your goods do not ask for them again.

Of all of these it is the statement ‘give to anyone who begs from you’ that brings me up short. It reads as if those begging are seen in the same vein as our enemies, but surely that cannot be the case. Sadly, many of those I have spoken to on the streets begging would say that they feel like the enemy; ignored and abused nuisances who are a drain on other people and are not wanted on the streets. Surely this cannot be right. What can be done about this? How can the situation be tackled? Look no further than the gospels.

Throughout gospels Jesus demonstrates, through his ministry, that it is possible and indeed more than that, it is transformative. Jesus stood out as unusual in society and defied those in power. He acted in ways that were scandalous to those who witnessed his ministry; Eating with sinners, not upholding the laws of the sabbath, fraternising with those on the edges of society and in many more ways. His encounters with those he met were transformative as he heals the lepers and forgives the sinners putting them on a new path.

The upshot of this was his death on the cross and we then see the most enlightening example of his love for all; including enemies. Following his resurrection, it might be expected that Jesus would want to take revenge on those who had executed an innocent man. What happens however is nothing of the sort. He forgives those who have denied him, and he patiently comes alongside the disciples to show them that he is again present with them, that death has not defeated him. He demonstrates that living by the beautiful attitudes and loving all, enemies included leads to a non-violent, transformative world.

It is not an easy route, it takes great risk and has a cost, in the case of Jesus his life. In my case it means I have to swallow my pride; I have to risk looking foolish and I have to risk failure. What I know however is that unless I take those risks, unless the church takes those risks, transformation will not take place and the Gospel will not be being lived out.

 


Page last updated: 22nd October 2020 11:49 AM
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