Sermon St Eustachius 9.45 Sunday 19 July 2020 Trinity 6
Isaiah 44v6-8 Psalm 86v11-end Romans 8v12-25 Matthew 13v24-30, 36-43
May I speak in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
Cast your minds back to that first Easter Sunday afternoon, and the road to Emmaus, Jesus draws near to two disappointed disciples on their way back home following the crucifixion, their hopes and dreams gone. Not recognising Jesus he proceeds to explain to them from all their scriptures, the Old Testament, the things concerning himself-the Messiah. Then after recognising him in the breaking of the bread after which he vanishes from their sight, they recall how their hearts had burned within them along the way listening to him.
In our short reading from the prophet Isaiah, I believe that we can see one of those scriptures that Jesus may well have referred to.
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts.”
Here I see the prophet first referring to God the Father, the Lord-Yahweh-the King of Israel, and then to Jesus-his Redeemer-the Lord of Hosts, the man seated at the Fathers right hand.
It is as Saint Augustine said, ‘Be prepared to find the Lord Jesus latent in the Old Testament, as he is patent in the New Testament’.
In this passage Isaiah also reminds us that the Lord God is the only God, he is in fact, ‘the first and the last’, he has been from eternity past and will be into eternity future. He is our eternal, unchanging, faithful and compassionate Father. Moses, the writer of the oldest psalm 90 (v2), expresses this very same thought, ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God’.
That phrase ‘I Am the first and I Am the last’, also contains the unmistakable identity ‘I Am’, revealed to Moses as the name of our one true God.
That same identity is picked up by Saint John in the introduction to his Revelation (Rev1v8) where he refers to the Lord God as ‘the Alpha and Omega, who is and was and is to come, the Almighty’.
Then at the conclusion to his Revelation, John records how Jesus himself takes on this same identity saying to John, ‘I am the alpha and the omega’ or maybe Jesus addressed John not in the Greek in which he wrote but in his natural language of Hebrew saying, ‘I am the aleph and the tav, the beginning and the end’, the first and last letters of the alphabet.
This glorious identification of Jesus with the Almighty God upon his throne, follows the great promise made by God, ‘Behold I make all things new’.
This is a promise which I trust we are all looking to be soon fulfilled, especially as we look around at the state of our hurting and decaying world.
It will be that long awaited time which the prophet Isaiah described like this (Is11v9), ‘They will neither harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’.
What a transformation that will bring to the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not the bombs and stabbings that I witnessed when living there.
So with that exalted position of our Redeemer and Saviour Jesus in our minds, how ought we to be living out our Christian lives in this present time as followers and disciples of our Lord and God?
Well brothers and sisters, Saint Paul gives to us some direction as to how this can happen when writing to the Christians in our reading from Romans, Paul says, we have to change the way we live and think, ‘for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live’. Paul like John the Baptist, was no mincer of words!
Paul tells us what it is that makes us true ‘children of God’, what it is that enables us to call God Abba-Father, what it is to become joint heirs with our Lord Jesus to the Kingdom; it is when we allow the Holy Spirit of God into our lives and then to direct our ways.
Now that was not an easy path for Paul, and it may not be an easy path for us either. Paul described what following God had cost him when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth (2Cor11v25), ‘three times beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, in danger on his many journeys, sleepless nights and hunger, and his anxiety over all the churches that he had planted’, not something we would wish to emulate.
Yet how did Paul describe all this? ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us’. Brothers and sisters, do we live out our lives with that thought always in the back, or preferably the front, of our minds? God has an unimaginable future ahead for each one of us who have invited Jesus into our lives, and who trust and follow him.
Saint Peter (1Pt5v6,7) expressed our walk with God in this manner, ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you’.
And it is not just us who wait for the glory of God to be revealed when our Lord Jesus returns, and ‘thy kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven’.
No, Paul tells us that the very creation itself, which at present is subject to decay, or as a Physicist I would say, ‘to a continual running down in entropy’, this our creation Paul says waits ‘with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God’. Are you looking forward to that revealing?
Brothers and sisters, it is you and me who are those ‘sons of God’. It is for you and me that God is going to make a new creation of our decaying earth, and it is you and me who God is to transform into new beings in the very image of our Lord Jesus. No wonder Paul could say our hope passes all that we can possibly imagine.
We may at present be going through hard and unusual times, we may even feel that our very bodies are in decay, but we have that most glorious of hopes to sustain us, and carry us through these times. That coming glory is yet to be revealed at the time of the return of our risen Lord Jesus. It will be a time in which each one of us will participate, and in which each one of us will have their own unique part to play.
So as we now come to gather once again around the table of our Lord Jesus to ‘remember him’, not in the normal way we have come to expect, but in a way where we shall still be fed, nourished and empowered by our Lord’s body, let us remember and live out our holy calling to follow Jesus, and to be faithful to him ‘until he comes’.
Let us pray; the shorter collect for this sixth Sunday after Trinity:-
Creator God, you made us all in your own image;
may we discern you in all that we see,
and serve you in all that we do;
through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen