Sermon Epiphany 6 February 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10                  Psalm 1       

    1 Corinthians 15:12-20                     Luke 6:17-26

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

Our readings have the theme of trust in God.  It is bang-on for the time we live in.  We put our trust in people and they disappoint.  Just look at the mess our government is in  (we elected them)  therefore we share the blame.  We put our trust in them who gave us such fine words at election time.  And now where are we ?  The trouble is those waiting in the wings for our government to fall are no more reliable, just because they are cut from the same cloth, they are oh so human !

Our neighbours to the south ignored all the failings of their president believing he had some kind of magic that could put all that ailed them right.  He proclaimed like a god, that only he could do what was necessary and redeem the people, by the art of the deal.  And where are they now ?  Teetering on the brink of disaster in so many ways  “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”.  (Sir Walter Scott).  That web will bring the weaver down.

And Europe and the Brexit catastrophe, given so many promises the British decided to opt out of Europe.  And now where are they?  Their leaders have failed them.

In South America, Asia and Africa there are so many issues of concern that they are too numerous to count.  Populations throughout the world are so divided that there is civil unrest everywhere.  I am not forgetting Australasia it has its problems too, mainly around immigration.  We have put our trust in ourselves far too much.

Everything Jeremiah says is coming true.  We are in a desert and can’t for the life of us see how to save ourselves.  We have inept governments and still think our systems work, even though they fail us again and again:  that is the definition of insanity.  We are polluting our world through greed, ignorance and plain stupidity, because we know best !  Yet listen to the Psalmist  “Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!”  There we go again.  Happy is where we are supposed to be.  With all the advances in technology, science, society and the arts, we should be living the life of Reilly.  We are not because both we and our leaders  “are like chaff which the wind blows away”.  We flit from one self-proclaimed redeemer to another repeating our error time and time again.

Could it be we have been barking up the wrong tree all this time ?

Well yes !

We have tried to solve our own problems but with limited sight we cannot see the horizon, we cannot see the next moment how can we rely upon our vision of things ?  God has infinite vision perhaps we should look at things through His eyes.  For those who do  “Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on his law day and night.  They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;  everything they do shall prosper”.  So ?  Which is the better option?  Same-old or following God’s way ?

If we dealt honestly and equitably with each other, indeed, if we went that extra mile and were generous to each other in both substance and demeanour this world would turn around on a dime.  It’s how we are supposed to be but we aren’t because we don’t trust God.  Now that’s a silly approach to life.  God provided everything we have and we still don’t trust God to keep on doing it!

We get a pretty good warning from Jesus today.  He says  “woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation”.  Jesus has nothing against wealth, it’s how you get it and how you use it that is His concern.  At the time He speaks, the rich were only rich at the expense of others, taking advantage of the poor.  He says  “woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry”.  Again those in control got the best and left little for the poor, that’s what’s happening in Argentina today.  He says  “woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep”.  Laughter is good for the soul, I am sure Jesus is not against it, and laughed Himself.  He’s against cynical mocking laughter that demeans people.  People who laugh like that will get their comeuppance, it’s happening today in governments.   He says  “woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets”.  Ain’t that true !  Our politicians, impresarios, movie, radio and tv stars, sports stars, even clergy and more, they were the greatest guys and gals until they got caught with their fingers in the Cookie Jar or in some sex scandal.  So be careful of being lauded it’s not the best club to join.

God through Jeremiah says  “The heart is devious above all else;  it is perverse – who can understand it ?  I the LORD test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings”.  Jesus says  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”  (Matthew 5:8).  That’s probably the best club to join then.  Memberships are free and they are always available here, with a personal trainer to boot.  But you might say, no one is pure in heart and you would be right but we strive for it day by day and because of that our efforts do not go unnoticed, our failings forgiven, and we are happy in the favour of God.  Amen.

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