Sermon The Seventh Sunday of Easter May 13, 2018

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26               Psalm 1                       1 John 5:9-13        

                 John 17:6-19

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

Tomorrow is the day set aside to honour St. Matthias, the Apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot in the original Twelve.  He was chosen by lot, after prayers were offered for the right choice.  There was a choice of two, Joseph Barsabbas, also known as Justus and there was Matthias.  Joseph Barsabbas was probably a well-known and respected guy, he had more than one name, kind of opposite to today, the famous only have one name, Dillon, Madonna, Prince, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Drake.  Curiously though there are lots of titles hung on very ordinary people these days.  Matthias was ordinary, for he only had one name, to all intents and purposes he was lowly, humble and never mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament before or after being chosen but he had one essential quality he had been with the group since the beginning.  Many contradictory traditions have arisen about him, he was martyred in three separate places, and also died in his bed of old age.  He preached here and there and was lauded in heretical gospels;  all-in-all not a stellar career.  But he did respond to the task of preserving the number of the Apostles at twelve.  Twelve was the number of the tribes of Israel and the Apostles’ job was to spread the good news to the New Israel, that is, converting the pagan world, which included the ten lost tribes.

How did the pagan world receive the Gospel ?  Well it seems very well because during the first three centuries of the Christian era it grew amazingly, and that should not be surprising because as Jesus says they passed on the Word of God.  On the way many people gave their lives, including probably Matthias and all the other Apostles, except John.  The Word of God inspired those missionary Christians and the believers, because it was the pure Word of God.  Trouble is though today we generally only give the Bible a cursory reading.  So today let’s dig a little deeper.  First, we have to believe that what we read is the Truth, truly what was said.  We can be sure of that because of all the written and oral testimony to the truth of the Gospels. / So what should we be hearing ?  First we should hear that as Jesus says God the Father shared His Word with Jesus, and Jesus passed that on to the Apostles, and they to all who heard.  Among those who heard were people who wrote down the teachings, and we have them in the pages of the New Testament.  So when we read that we are to love God and love our neighbour, it is not a nice philosophical saying for leading a pleasant life, it is the Word of God.  So we should believe it and do it !  It’s the same when we hear about sharing our good fortune, even if our good fortune is rather small !  It’s the same when we hear about forgiving others.  It’s the same when we hear about changing our errant ways.  It’s not just good social policy or advice, it’s the Word of God.  But who believes that anymore ?  More than a billion people do but what about the other six billion.  Many of them have their own version of a god.  Their gospels are not filled with the Word and actions of the God that we have in our Gospels theirs are filled with the aspirations of humankind struggling to find the true God.  We have the Word of God handed down directly from the Father to the Son, to us.  There is nothing more reliable than that even if the Word we hear is not the Word we want to hear.  Can’t help that, it is what it is !

But the key to it all is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we have plenty of evidence that that is the Truth but we have to believe it.  Think about it, He was prophesied to be born of the Holy Spirit and of a woman, He was.  He was prophesied to die an ignominious death, He did.  He was prophesied to rise from the dead, He did.  Surely that is enough to convince us of His divinity.  Although He lived in this world He was not of this world, that is, subject to the same weaknesses as us.  And that is His wish for us too that we discard the weaknesses we have acquired and live a holy life the way He did.  If we live holy lives we will be an example, perhaps a curious example, for many of what a good person should really be.  We are attracted to good people, not famous people, but good people who make the unexpected sacrifice to help others and in so doing prove that there is a God, worthy of our adoration.

Now, at the end of the Easter season when we have celebrated the Ascension of our Lord into heaven we await the Day of Pentecost when those original disciples received the Holy Spirit.  Take this week to pray a solemn prayer that the Holy Spirit will be re-enlivened within you,  that your faith in the Word of God will be reinvigorated within you and that you will make an honest effort to live the Gospel Truths into your lives.  The rewards are great:  release from anxiety as you confidently place your woes and your fears in God’s capable hands:  confidence in your actions and decisions, you will know what is right:  a true inner sense that you are loved and that all will be right:  that you will find eternal peace in heaven when this present life is over and that you will be reunited with all those you loved, especially your children and parents.

It may not necessarily be easy that’s why it is essential that you pray for the reinforcement of the Holy Spirit in your lives.  There is nothing like certainty of action as long as it is the right action, that can only be truly determined by understanding God’s Word and His plan for you.  Therefore I say, pray and live your lives to the fullest as God intended in the knowledge of the Truth in Jesus Christ.  Amen and Alleluia.

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