Sermon Epiphany 2 January 14, 2018

1 Samuel 3:1-20  Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

1 Corinthians 6:12-20           John 1:43-51

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul seems to be taking on a lot for himself, when he says  “All things are lawful for me”  but like everything else his statement has to be put in context.  First of all note that he is in fact quoting Christian Corinthians who believed that they had the liberty to be governed by the laws of Corinth and no more, Christian morality played no part in their lives.  Ancient religions had no ethical code, ethics were a secular matter, a matter of your individual philosophy.  Paul says  “No”  to that.  Just because something is legal does not make it right.  Ethics usually demand a higher standard of behaviour, Christianity even more so.  Paul uses two examples.  Gluttony is one.  He’s not worried about weight gain or depriving others of food Paul sees gluttony as a misuse of food – enough is a feast.  And we can apply that to all aspects of life, overconsumption is a sin, because God created things and gave us the ability to make other things from His Creation.  Accumulating things just for the sake of having them is not good, in simple terms, you can only wear one pair of boots at a time, no matter how deep the snow.

Sex outside of marriage is another.  Much like us today sex outside of marriage was not a criminal offence in Corinth, nor is prostitution, although we do have three constraints, age, consent and consanguinity, that is, shared blood.  Adultery is not a criminal offence only a civil one like breaking a contract, which it does.  But Paul who is often accused of being a sexiest and fanatical about all things sexual, makes some really good points about chastity and the larger meaning of Sin.

God made us human beings for His delight, the delight of creating an intelligent creature with whom He could have a relationship.  So we should concentrate on that.  Like adultery sex outside of marriage breaks the relationship.  We should have sex only within a marital relationship for the purpose of mutual satisfaction, love, procreation, for our own good, for the preservation of the couple and the welfare of the children.  Sin breaks relationships.

Our bodies are destined for resurrection, it is a dishonour to God to dishonour our bodies because God only deals in righteousness and purity.  Do we really want God to raise us in imperfection from the dead ?  No.  So stay away from that which dishonours the body.  That applies equally to any Sin.

If we are members of the mystical Body of Christ through our baptism we should not bring the mud of Sin into the living room and discredit all that for which the Body stands.  That applies equally to any Sin.

The most personal reason is that unlike any other sin, in illicit sex we don’t misuse something external to ourselves, such as food in gluttony, but we misuse our own bodies.  We abuse ourselves, not a good thing in any way.

Lastly our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, so as much as we insult ourselves, we insult the Holy Spirit, God.  In no way can that be right.  And the Psalmist reminds us that we can’t hide our transgressions from God.  God knew us before we were born and knows our every action.  Confession and Repentance is the only way out.  So do both regularly.  When you wake you are saying  “Hallelujah !  Praise be to God !”  So when you retire for the night go over the day and pick out the bits where you have fallen short and promise not to do them again.  From my own personal experience you will never run out of things to confess and repent about.

So how can we stay away from this quagmire ?  Eli’s sons in the Old Testament story had done just about every sin in the Book, including the two that Paul wrote about today, and they were priests in the Temple to boot !  Eli in his physical and moral blindness had not stepped in and stopped them or punished them.  The responsibility of a father is enormous in bringing his children up right and even when they are grown that responsibility still exists, otherwise there will be a pox on his entire house;  I can think of one prominent father today who might mirror Eli.

Eli did awaken at last to God’s call but too late for him to change things for the better.  It’s obvious that even though Samuel was a child dedicated to God, Eli had not taken on the duty of every believer to nurture the children in the faith, in this case Samuel but his own sons too.  Samuel slept beside the holiest object in Israel – the Ark of the Covenant – but knew nothing of its meaning and importance.  Eli, his surrogate father, had not bothered to teach him.  As Christians we too have the responsibility to nurture and teach the faith to our children, young and old, if we don’t we are failing the way Eli did.  Let’s not do that.

And let’s not be cynical like Nathaniel.  No matter how far gone things appear to be they can be redeemed.  God took away the heritage of Eli’s sons because they did not deserve it.  God kept Eli flawed as he was as a priest but without an heir and left him to mourn the loss of what might have been.  But with Jesus Christ of Nazareth all that is changed, sinful lives are turned around and we will live the life of the redeemed, a life of Hope and Salvation, free of Sin.  Amen.

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