Sermon Pentecost 20 October 27, 2019

Sirach 35:12-17                      Psalm 84:1-6              2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18          Luke 18:9-14

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

How many politicians and hopefuls echoed St. Paul’s words this week  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”  but only a few can say  “From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness”.  Lisa Raitt and Ralph Goodale, two of the most prominent candidates, they and many, many others cannot claim a crown because they lost.  No matter how concerted their effort, no matter how deserving their cause, they came up short and the crown was not theirs.  That’s life in this  ‘winner takes all world’.  But that is not God’s world, in God’s world if you run the race and fight the good fight until the end, then a crown of righteousness is yours, guaranteed, that’s the difference between this unforgiving world and Paradise.

What could we do to change that in our electoral system ?  Proportional representation ?  No.  Because there will still be losers.  In God’s world there are no losers.  Can you imagine how wonderful God’s world was and is ?  We started off here foraging.  Then we got into agriculture.  In both we were fighting against opposing forces, Nature and our own need.  Then we got into the feudal system where the fortunate few took control, then we got into the system of guilds where an elite controlled everyone else’s lives and status and the market, then we got into mercantilism where those fortunate few took even more control and made fortunes, then we arrived at capitalism where the adventurous take control, sometimes they win, but often they lose.  In rebellion against an unjust system communism had its day.  Democratic socialism has persisted providing essential services to the masses, but for many even it falls short.  That state of affairs cannot equal or even come close to God’s kingdom.  We still find ourselves fighting each other on matters of principle and often on matters of territory, and out of just plain greed.

If only we would try, try to apply God’s principles, they are all here in the Good Book.  If only we would realise that questions of territory are meaningless.  Do you remember that first picture of Earthrise as the Apollo astronauts first glimpsed Earth as they rounded the Moon and saw Earth from afar for the very first time in history.  There were no lines, no borders, on the planet, there was just one beautiful blue planet sailing along through boundless space.

And as to greed I don’t have too much tolerance for it.  Like the rich man who built the bigger barns to store his wealth in, treasures on Earth have no reach into a better life  (Luke 12:21).  His unused riches could have gone to improve life for others raising all the boats in the harbour, as they say, instead of stagnating in storage, money only works if it’s moved around.

The recent federal election campaign showed us another side of ourselves, which is revealed in the Gospel today.  A self-righteous Pharisee sets himself up in favourable comparison to another man.  He went on and on about how good he was by comparison to others.  How many times did the recent election candidates slag each other, impugning the integrity and ability of their opponents;  glasshouses and blackened pots don’t seem to have been in the life lessons those politicians learnt at their mothers’ knees.  And if the Golden Rule  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”  (Matthew 7:12)  had ever come up  it sank pretty quickly. 

Wouldn’t you like to get away from a world like that, not only from among our politicians but everyone ?  Except I might say, in yesterday’s episcopal election, the candidates spoke about Purpose and Vision, not blame and the supposed shortcomings of others;  Purpose and Vision are what people want to hear.  We all have failings, and skeletons in our closets, and a psychoanalyst might tell us, we have to get them out and get rid of them, the only thing is we don’t welcome other people doing it for us with caustic tongues.  I hope none of us take on that aggressive role with others, either friend or foe.  People instead want the promise of a future.

Purpose and Vision, if they are what people want to hear, then we as Christians should be talking about our Purpose and Vision.  What are they ?  We need look no further than the Five Marks of Mission:  first, to Proclaim the Gospel, after all that is our foundation:  second, to Teach the meaning of our proclamation and to Nurture faith in others:  third, to Serve, Jesus came to serve us, can we do less than that for others in need:  fourth, to Transform society, especially perhaps at this time, transform our systems of government and bring Peace thereby, provincially, nationally and internationally, but most of all within our families:  and fifth, to Care for Creation.  We are becoming more and more aware of how fragile is the Earth, and the blame game will only let things degenerate into mayhem, the simple fact is that the Earth is changing, its forces are strengthening and all living creatures, insects, animals, plants and us, are being threatened by climate change.  We were originally told to take care of the Earth, when we were kicked out of the Garden, it’s the only one we have got, so surely Care for Creation is a no-brainer.

Humanity’s vision has always been to create paradise here on Earth.  It’s not impossible, and will be possible if goodwill, the goodwill taught in the Bible, becomes the way of life for us all.  The only way that’s going to happen is if we talk about it to others and live it.  Amen. �#�

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