Monday, 28 January 2013

Sundays sermon

Epiphany means?
Christmas is all about Epiphany
Matthew Mark Luke and John all have Epiphany and they express things differently depending on their readership and time of writing.

The Disciples had Epiphanies, times when the purpose of Jesus was made so very clear to them.

Many characters of the Gospels had epiphanies such as the woman at the well. “He told me everything about me”

Throughout our reading of the bible we also get moments of understanding... times when the work of God is clearly felt in our lives and through the church.

The Church (you and I) are called to be Epiphanies for the world today, but we often manage to obscure this.!!

People in our society today need clarity, they need the Gospel (Good news) that God is for them and not against them. That God is close and not far away.

Far too many people have experienced the church as power and control. (something that was so very obvious in Rome last week) The history of Shetlands churches also give evidence to the power and control the people felt the church put them under

If we can be better epiphanies then people may begin to see how things fit into place. The dawn of new hope may be made clear.

There is a God shaped hole in each of us let us fill it with the God we have seen show himself.

I would like to share this story with you It is set in China when the communists came to power. Many Christians were tried for their faith. One was given the opportunity to reveal why he had chosen Christianity instead of the religion of his ancestors.

He said to the interrogators,
"I was in a deep pit sinking in the mire and totally helpless. I looked up to see a shadow at the top of the pit. The shadow spoke, "My Son, I am Confucius, the father of your country. If you had obeyed my teachings you would never have been here," and then he passed on adding "if you ever get out of this, remember my teachings".
 But of course this did not save him.

Then Buddha appeared at he edge of the pit, and leaning over he spoke to  me at the bottom:" My Son, just count it all as nothing. Enter into rest. Fold your arms and retire within yourself, and you will find nirvana, the peace to which we are all tending. The* I cried out to him, "Father Buddha if you will only help me to get out, I wilI be glad to do so, I could follow your instructions easily if I were where you are, but how can I find rest in this awful place?" Buddha passed on and left me to my despair.

Then another face appeared, it was the face of a man beaming with kindness, and bearing the marks of sorrow. He did not linger a moment, but leaped down to my side, threw his arms around me and lifted me out. He brought me to the solid ground above; then did not even bid me farewell, but took off my filthy garments, put new robes upon me, and bade me follow him, saying," I will never leave you nor forsake you" That is why I became a Christian.

That little story illustrates something of the  Epiphany which is the glory of God in that it helps us to see how the Glory of God is something strangely at our side, something that is always there.

Mother Julian of Norwich once saw in her showings a small I hazelnut and was amazed at the sight of it. It smallness and frailty, and yet she was told this was all that was made and it lasts forever because God loves it. This led Julian to realise three things

1.  that God Made it
2.  That God loves it.
3.  That god looks after it.

The Glory of God is to be found in the life around us. In even the unlikely places of our lives.

Paul, whose conversion we celebrated  on Friday saw the Glory of God revealed in the cross. Again a less likely place for glory to be revealed you couldn’t find. He said "Let us boast of nothing except the cross of Christ Crucified"
Elsewhere, in his epistles  he talks of the Glory of God at work in him in proclaiming the Gospel.

But the remarkable thing is that he speaks
of this as he is in prison and in great suffering for the Faith.

He writes of "Christ in You, the hope of Glory."
 (col 1:27.)

So we pray that the signs of Glory will be seen in and through the church, will be recognised by ourselves in common places of our lives, and will bring light to the darkness of our lives, and that we will be enablers of Epiphany to those around us.