Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Are you envious because I am generous?

Are you envious because I am generous?
So the last will be first and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:16

It is always a sad moment when we fail to see a gift being offered. It’s almost as if we believe it’s too good to be true as in that old expression, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

One of the greatest gifts of all is the gift of gentleness known sometimes as kindness, tenderness or softness of action. Sadly this gift can be seen by some as weakness, they fail to see the value in this beautiful gift.

C. JoyBell C. writes

“Predators prey on gentleness, peace, calmness, sweetness and any positivity that they sniff out as weakness.”

In a world where power and authority are highly prized I suppose it is not surprising that a gift like gentleness can be overlooked. And therefore it can be very difficult to understand God as gentle as loving. Somehow, the God of wrath, the God of anger, the kind of God that acts like a regimental sergeant major of a bygone era, person who shouts, screams and puts us down, is the image of God that people cling to.

But in the gospel today Matthew challenges our understanding of God. He reminds us of our inability to see a gift of love so freely given. Matthew does not hold back:

“Are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first will be last.”

He reminds us that God’s generosity, gentleness, and love is so great that we find it hard to conceive.

The rules that we live under in this world are not the same as God’s kingdom. Here in today’s reading I am reminded that maybe I am not the first? Maybe I have not worked the hardest? Maybe I am not the most important? Yet God sees through all of that, and is able to show love, gentleness and kindness; ways that my world fails to understand.

Charles Gore, Bishop of Oxford and founding father of the Community of the Resurrection, said:

“The gospel is a radical text. The problem is we have heard it so often we have watered it down.”

Bearing this in mind, one of the aims for the seasons of Harvest, Kingdom and Advent is to look at ways to confirm our faith.

To re-examine, to open our eyes to see, to investigate what it is we believe:

What is your faith based on? The Ten Commandments, scripture, the creeds?

What do you value about your faith?

Why do you go to church?

We need time to reflect on our faith to ask ourselves what is the cornerstone of our belief.

Why is my faith so important to me? How does this faith help me on my journey of life? How does it aid me in this complex world.

To help reflect on these questions we are running a course confirming faith. It is there to help those who wish to be confirmed, although is also a course that all of us here can engage with. It has been designed so that people of all ages and time schedules can take part: online, or day/ evening meetings.

Even if you simply order the book and read it at your own leisure I believe it will be worth it.

Please do reflect and pray about this journey. I ask you to pray for people to come forward to be confirmed.

And I pray that you will all take up this challenge and in doing so, come to a new understanding of what your faith means to you. Thus we can really embrace the seasons of Harvest, Kingdom and Advent, that we may shine out God’s love for us and rediscover the joy of all these seasons and, eventually, Christmas.

Fr Mark Chadwick
September 2017

This sermon is one of a series given as part of our Faith Confirmed programme. A series of talks, classes, sermons and groups for Harvest, Advent and Christmas 2017-18

For details on the Faith Confirmed book written by Peter Jackson and Chris Wright, click the link.

No comments:

Post a Comment