THE VERY REVEREND WILLIAM J MOSTERT
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EPIPHANY 2011

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AND GONE. THE NEW YEAR HAS BEEN AND OVER. THINGS ARE ALMOST BACK TO NORMAL. BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE THROES OF THE NEW YEAR, WITH NEW IDEAS, NEW CHALLENGES AND ADVENTURES AND HOPES AND DREAMS AND NO DOUBT ALSO DISAPPOINTMENTS.

WE CELEBRATED THE BIRTH OF THE CHRIST CHILD AND HE SEEKS TO BE CONTINOUSLY INVOLVED IN OUR LIVES. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN REMINDS US, THAT THE WORD, WHICH IS JESUS, BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.

ON THURSDAY THE SIXTH, WE CELEBRATED THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY, WHICH IS THE MAKING KNOWN, GIVING OUT OR REVELATION OF THE CHRIST CHILD TO THE WORLD. THE EPIPHANY IS THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHT AND THAT LIGHT OF CHRIST IS SHINING EVER SO BRIGHT. SO TODAY WE HEARD AGAIN THE STORY OF THE WISE MEN WHO GUIDED BY THE LIGHT OF A STAR CAME TO BETHLEHEM TO HONOUR THE CHRIST CHILD. THAT LIGHT IS SHINING EVER SO BRIGHT AS WE TOO ARE ON A JOURNEY TO THAT HEAVENLY BETHLEHEM, WHERE WE HOPE TO MEET THE LORD FACE TO FACE. WE ARE GUIDED NOT BY THE LIGHT OF A STAR, BUT THE LIGHT OF FAITH, SO TODAY WE ASK THE LORD TO STRENGHTEN OUR FAITH. LORD JESUS YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, AND THOSE WHO FOLLOW YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE. AS YOU LEAD US THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD TO THE RADINAT JOY OF OUR ETERNAL HOME.

THE WORD EPIPHANY MEANS MANIFESTATION OR REVELATION A DRAWING BACK OF THE VEIL. THE VEIL IS DRAWN BACK TO REVEAL THE GREAT MYSTERY, NAMELY THAT CHRIST THE SAVIOUR IS NOT ONLY THE SAVIOUR OF THE JEWS BUT ALSO OF THE GENTILES. IT IS GODíS PURPOSE AND GODíS WILL THAT ALL SHOULD BE SAVED AND COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH. THIS IS THE THEOLIGICAL MEANING OF THE FEAST. GOD INVITES ALL TO SHARE ON EQUAL FOOTING THE BENFITS OF THE SALVATION WON BY CHRIST. ELECTION IS THEREFORE NOT A PRIVILEGE FOR SOME BUT HOPE FOR ALL, AND THUS PUTS AN END TO EVERY KIND OF EXCLUSIVISM; THE FEAST OF THE EPIHANY TEARS DOWN THE BARRIERS BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE AND THIS GREAT AND WONDERFUL TRUTH WAS REVEALED IN EMBRYO FORM WHEN THE WISE MEN CAME TO HONOUR CHRIST AS THEIR SAVIOUR. A JOURNEY OF FAITH WHICH THEY UNDERTOOK AND THIS CELEBRATION HAS GREAT RELEVANCE FOR US AS CHRISTIANS, FOR WE TOO ARE ON A JOURNEY, FOLLOWING A VISON, GUIDED BY THE LIGHT OF FAITH AND THEIR JOURNEY CAN SERVE AS A MODEL FOR OUR JOURNEY OF FAITH. CHRIST THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD IS THE STAR WE ARE FOLLOWING.

THE ESSENCE OF THE GOOD NEWS IS THIS. GOD MADE HIMSELF PRESENT TO US IN THE LIFE OF ONE WHO WALKED THE EARTH, SO TRULY PRESENT IN THIS JESUS.

AT TIMES THOUGH INSTEAD OF EXPECTING CHRIST LIGHT TO BE DAZZLING AND COSMIC IN PROPORTION WE SEE IT AS A NARROW FLICKERING BEAM, WHICH ILLUMINES ONLY A SMALL AREA OF OUR LIVES.

WE GAZE, WE WONDER WE RELAX NOW THAT EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL.

JB PHILIPS, A WELL KNOWN BRITISH WRITER, WROTE A BOOK ON HOW WE AS CHRISTIANS TRY TO NARROW DOWN THE SCOPE OF THE EPIHANY LIGHT. THE TITLE OF THE BOOK, "YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL". CHAPTER AFTER CHAPTER HE LIFTS UP THE IMAGES THAT WE HAVE CARVED OUT IN GREAT EFFORT TO MINIMIZE AND TRIVUALISE THE IMPACT OF HIS COMING. AT TIMES WE ARE LIKE THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW IN THE STORY OF THE WISE MEN, KNOWLEDGABLE ABOUT GOD, RELIGIOUS YES, WE CAN EVEN TELL HEROD WHERE THE MESSIAH WAS TO BE BORN, BUT NO INDICATION TO WORSHIP THE KING. BRILLIANTLY AS THE EPIPHANY LIGHT WAS ALREADY SHINING HAVING DRAWN THOSE LEARNED MEN ALL THE WAY, THE LIGHT HAD MADE NO IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS. AND SO AT TIMES IT HAPPENS TO US. CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY MAY COME AN GO IN OUR LIVES AND OUR REACTION SO OFTEN IS A BROAD YAWN AND SIGH THAT COMMUNICATES UMISTAKEABLY THE MESSAGE THAT HIS BECOMING FLESH AND BLOOD FOR US BARELY CAUSE A RIPPLE IN OUR MINDS AND SPIRITS.

CERTAINLY IT DOES NOT LIGHT UP OUR LIVES OR DRAMATICALLY CHANGES OUR THOUGHT PATTERNS OR RADICALLY EMPOWERS US TO REFELCT THE AMAZING LOVE OF CHRIST. SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? DOES THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST SHINES LESS BRIGHTLY TODAY? FAR FROM IT. OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE TOO LOW. OUR GOD, OR RATHER THE IMAGE THAT WE HAVE OF GOD, IS TOO SMALL.

THE LIGHT OF CHRIST HAS THE POTENTIAL OF MAKING A POWERFUL IMPACT ON OUR INNER BEINGS. THE BIRTH OF THE CHRIST CHILD MOVED THE WISE MEN TO REFLECT DEEPLY, TO ACT BOLDLY, SETTING OUT ON A COSTLY JOURNEY AND ULTIMATELY KNEELING AT THE MANGER WITH THEIR GIFTS OF GOLD, FRANKINCENCE AND MYRRH AND THE GIFTS OF THEIR OWN LIVES. THEY WERE DEEPLY CHANGED EVEN BEFORE THE SELF-GIVING OF THE VICTORIOUS LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST HAD A CHANCE TO EXPLODE.

THAT PENETRATING WARMING LIGHT THAT LEAVES NO ONEíS LIFE THE SAME AS BEFORE. IT KEEPS US GROWING AND CHANGING AND EXPERIENCING A FULLER LIFE. BRIGHT ENOUGH TO SHOW THE PURPOSE OF LIFE. BRIGHT ENOUGH TO SHOW THAT PAIN AND SUFFERING CAN BE REDEMPTIVE.

BRIGHT ENOUGH TO ILLUMINATE THE HORIZONS OF THE WORLD TO COME, TO AFFIRM LIFE AFTER DEATH, TO SHOW THAT THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH BELONGS TO LOVE AND TRUTH. BRIGHT ENOUGH TO KEEP FAITH-LIFE GROWING MONTH TO MONTH AND MATURING FROM YEAR TO YEAR. THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF THE EPIPHANY LIGHT IS STILL GREATER, THAN THE DEPTHS OF OUR BEING, GREATER THAN EVER BLOSSOMING FAITH AND LIFE.

THE EPIPHANY LIGHT IS BRIGTHER THAN WE THINK. BRIGHT ENOUGH TO RENEW OUR WHOLE INNER BEING. BRIGHT ENOUGH TO COMPEL US TO GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS, WHICH SHATTERS WALLS AND BUILDS BRIDGES.

MAY THE LAMP OF FAITH NEVER FAIL US. MAY ITS LIGHT SEE US THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD, UNTIL WE REACH THE HEAVENLY BETHLEHEM WHERE WE SHALL SEE CHRIST IN GLORY. MAY WE EXPERIENCE IT, MAY WE BASK IN IT. MAY WE CELEBRATE AND ABOVE ALL MAY WE BE EMPOWERED BY IT.

I SAID TO THE MAN WHO STOOD AT THE GATE OF THE YEAR, "GIVE ME A LIGHT THAT I MAY TREAD SAFELY INTO THE UNKNOWN". AND HE REPLIED, "GO OUT INTO THE DARKNESS AND PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE HAND OF GOD, THAT SHALL BE TO YOU BETTER THAN LIGHT AND SAFER THAN A KNOWN WAY". King of England 1939.
 


FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
2010-05-09

JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: ďPEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY OWN PEACE GIVE I YOUĒ.

THESE\WORDS ARE FROM OUR GOSPEL PASSAGE FOR TODAY TAKEN FROM THE DISCOURSE AT THE LAST SUPPER BUT IT IS DOMINATED BYHIS IMINENT DEPARTURE.. BUT HE IS CONCERNED TO ASSURE THEM THAT HE WILL NOT LEAVE THEM DESOLATE, HE AND THEY WILL NOT BE APART. IF THEY KEEP HIS WORD THEY WILL BE DRAWN INTO THE LOVE OF THE FATHER AND THE SON. AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL REMIND THEM OF HIS WORDS. AND SO PEACE IS HIS FINAL GIFT TO THEM, A PEACE THAT THE WORLD CANNOT GIVE.

PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY OWN PEACE DO I GIVE YOU., THAT IS HIS GIFT TO THEM, TO US. SO DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED OR AFRAID.. SOME OF THE MOST LOVELIEST WORDS IN THE GOSPEL.

WHEN WE LOOK AROUND US FROM CITY TO CITY, COUNTRY TO COUNTRY, WE DISCOVER CERTAIN LEGACIES, THINGS WHICH PEOPLE HAVE LEFT OR BUILT OR WHICH OTHERS HAVE DONE IN THEIR MEORY BY VIRTUE OF WHAT THEY HAVE SAID OR LEFT TO BE CARRIED ON IN THEIR NAME. WE HAVE GREAT INSTITUTIONS, BUILDING AIRPORTS, LIBRARIES AND STREETS NAMED AFTER PEOPLE. LEGACIES WHICH THEY HAVE LEFT.

WE WANT TO LEAVE SOMETHING WORTHWHILE BEHIND AS WE DEPART FROM THIS WORLD. THERE ARE MARVELOUS MUSICAL PIECES, GRETA WRITERS, GRATE STAESMEN AND WOMEN. EVEN IN THE CHURCH WE HAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE MADE THEIR MARK AND LEFT SOMETHING BY WHICH WE CAN AND MAY HONOUR THEM. THE DESIRE IS THERE TO LEAVE A LEGACY. THESE MEMORIALS AS\THEY ARE SERVE AS REMINDERS WHAT PEOPLE HAVE DONE AND MEANT.

WHAT THEN CAN WE LEAVE. THAT THOUGHT MUST HAVE COME INTO OUT THINKING.. WHAT IS THERE FOR AT TIMES IT IS DIFFICULT TO LEAVE MUCH FOR NOT EVERYONE IS ABLE TO LEAVE ANYTHING WORTHWHILE MATERILISTIC AT THE END OF OUR LIVES. BUT THE DESIRE IS STRONG AND THE HEART YEARNS FOR US TO DO OR LEAVE SOMETHING.

JESUS LEFT NONE OF THOSE KIND OF LEGACIES. HE HAD NO MATERIAL GOODS, FOR EVEN HIS CLOTHES WERE GAMBLED AWAY WHILE HE WAS STILL DYING. HE LEFT NO ENDOWMENT, NO LIBRARIES, NO RARE BOOK COLLECTIONS. AS\ FAR AS\WE KNOW HE PLAYED NO MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, NOR COMPOSED ANY MUSIC, WE KNOW OF NO WRITTEN TREATISES OR OTHER DOCUMENTS LEFT BY HIM.. HE HAD NOTHING TANGIBLE TO LEAVE AS\A LEGACY, CERTAINLY NOT IN THE WAY THE WORLD WOULD UNDERSTAND HIS LEGACY.

YET HIS LEGACY TO HUMANKIND OVERSHADOWS ALL THE COMBINED LEGACIES OF HUMANKIND. INDEED MOST OF THE GREAT MUSIC WRITTEN BY HUMANKIND HAS BEEN WRITTEN BECAUSE OF HIS LEGACY AND THE GRETAEST ART AND AWESOME CATHEDRALS WERE INSPIRED BY THAT SAME LEGACY LEFT BY SOMEONE WHO SEEMINGLY HAD NOTHING TO LEAVE.

IN OUR GOSPEL READING WE DISCOVER THREE BENEFITS WHICH HE LEFT TO ALL OF US. HE LEFT THE LEGCAY OF LOVE, THE LEGACY OF THE SPIRIT AND THE LEGACY OF PEACE.. THEY ARE NOT TANGIBLE GIFTS AND VERY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE NORMALLY LEFT BY PEOPLE, BUT THEY ARE MORE LASTING AND BENEFICIAL THAN ANY LIBRARY OR MUSIC OR ART OR ANY OF THE GREAST CONTRIBUTIONS LEFT TO US BY OUR FORBEARS.

HE KNEW WHAT HE WOULD LEAVE HIS PEOPLE. FOR THIS I CAME HE SAID. THAT YOU MAY HAVE LIFE AND LIFE IN ALL ITS FULLNESS.

THE LEGACY HE LEFT TO US IS MANIFOLD. THE IMPORTANT FEATURE OF THIS LEGACY IS THAT IT IS REFLECTION OF HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY. NORMALLY A LEGACY WOULD COST SOMETHING. THE LEGACY OF LOVE COSTS NOTHING IN THOSE TERMS. THE LEGACY OF LOVE COST HIM HIS LIFE AND HE GAVE IT FREELY, BUT THAT LEGACY STANDS FOREVER, NOT AS A MUTE MARBLE MEMORIAL IN A CEMETRY OR STATUE IN A CITY PARK, BUT AS A LIVING ACTIVE FORCE.

HE LEFT FOR US, THE LOVE OF THE FATHER, THE FORGIVING CREATIVE LOVE THAT WOULD STAND FOREVER. AND TOGETHER WITH THAT LOVE IS THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT WHICH COMES MYSTERIOUSLY AND MYSTICALLY TO SHORE UP OUR SAGGING WILLS, WHO ENLIGHTENS OUR BEMUFFLED MINDS WITH THE LIGHT OF THE TRUTH, WHICH STRENGHTENS WEAK HEARTS AND SHATTERED SPIRITS. WE CANNOT FEEL IT OR TOUCH IT IN A PHYSICAL WAY. HE SAYS THE GIFT OF THIS LEGACY WILL TEACH US ALL THINGS. TEACHING US TO LIVE AS DISICIPLES, TEACHING US HOW TO BE THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN A WORLD AND SOCIETY WHERE THIS IS UNPOPULAR IF NOT DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE. TEACHING US TO LIVE AS HIS INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE IN SPITE OF THE CRUSHING FEAR THAT CAPTURES OUR MINDS AND PARALYZES\OUR WILLS. TEACHING US TO STEP OUT BODLY IN FAITH AND BE WHAT WE CAN BE IN CHRIST.

STILL TOGETHER WITH THE LOVE AND THE SPIRIT IS HIS PEACE. HIS PARTING GIFT TO HIS DISCIPLES PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU, NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES DO I GIVE IT TO YOU.

THE HEWBREW WORD FOR PEACE IS SHALOM, A WORD\VERY WIDELY USED IN THE BIBLE. IT IS SO RICH IN CONTENT THAT THE ENGLISH WORD PEACE CONVEYS ONLY A FRACTION OF WHAT IT MEANS..

IT GENERALLY CONVEYS A SENSE OF UNIVERSAL COMPLETENESS, A CONDITION IN WHICH NOTHING IS LACKING. THE STATE OF PERFECT WELL-BEING WHICH THE WORD SIGNIFIES BELONGS ONLY TO GOD. THAT MEANS WHEN ONE POSSESSES PEACE, ONE IS IN PERFECT COMMUNION WITH GOD.

LET NOT YOUR BE TROUBLED, NEITHER LET THEM BE AFRAID IS WHAT HE TOLD HIS DISCIPLES WHEN HE PROMISED THEM PEACE AND WE KNOW TODAY THAT TO UNDERSTAND THAT PROMISE AND TO ABSORB IT INTO OUR LIVES, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS GODíS OWN SPECIAL PEACE , NOT AS THE WORLD PROMISES, NOR AS THE WORLD GIVES. NO IT IS A LEGACY, THAT WILL SHINE THROUGH ALL THE MURKY TROUBLES AND DISPUTES SWIRLING ABOUT US IN OUR SMALL OR LARGER WORLDS. MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU.

THE POOR WANDERING JEW FROM NAZARETH LEFT HIS LEGACY TO HUMANKIND. DYING ON THE CROSS HE PROCLAIMED IT BY PLEADING WITH HIS FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO. AND THEN MEETING FOR ONE OF THE LAST TIMES WITH HIS DISCIPLES HE PROMISES\THEM THE LEGACY OF THE SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN HIS NAMEAND RISING FROM THE SEALED TOMB HE ANNOUNCED MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU.

FOR ALL PEOPLE, IN ALL TIMES, THROUGH ALL THE AGES HE LEFT. HIS LEGACY OF LOVE, HIS LEGACY OF THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT, AND HIS LEGACY OF PEACE. AMEN.
 


FIFTH SUNDAY

I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOUR SERMON WAS ABOUT LAST SUNDAY, BUT THE GOSPEL READING PLACED GREAT EMPHASIS ON THE WORDS OF JESUS.

THE USE OF WORDS AND THE WORDS OF JESUS AND ITS INFLUENCE ON OUR LIVES.

THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE US THROUGH THREE CHARACTER SKETCHES OR PATTERNS OF MINISTRY.

THEY HAVE ALL BEEN MY OWN EXPERIENCES, BUT I HOPE THROUGH THEM TO DEMONSTRATE FIRST OF ALL CHRISTíS INVOLVEMENT IN THE VERY LIVES OF HIS PEOPLE, AND INDEED OUR OWN INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATION IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS, BE IT FAMILY OR FRIENDS.

WE EXPLORE CHRISTíS DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE AND, BASED ON THE GOSPEL READING FOR TODAY, CHRIST REACHING OUT TO TOUCH.

THE PHONE RINGS. THE VOICE ON THE OTHER END, IN A NUMBED, MUFFLED, ANXIOUS TONE SAYS, "MY HUSBAND HAS HAD A STROKE AND THEY HAVE TAKEN HIM TO HOSPITAL, WILL YOU MEET US THERE?"

MINUTES LATER YOU WITNESS THE FAMILY SURROUNDING THE BED IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT.

MACHINES, TUBES AND SOUNDS CONFRONT THE HUDDLED GROUP OF PEOPLE SURROUNDING THE DEVASTATION THAT IS SEEN IN THE BODY OF THE HUSBAND.

LAST NIGHT HE WAS A YOUTHFUL FIFTY-NINE. A PERSON WHO LOVED THE CHOIR AND ADDED SPIRIT TO THE GROUP - ONE OF THOSE VIGOUROUS COMMITTED MEMBERS. AND NOW HE LIES ASHEN AND UNCONCIOUS AS THE FAMILY CIRCLES THE BED, JOINS HANDS, AND THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IS TRACED ON HIS BROW.

AS WE TOUCH, WE WONDER WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING. DOES DEATH MAKE ITS CLAIM NOW? CAN HE SENSE THE LOVE OF THOSE CLOSE TO HIM WHO WANT HIM BACK AGAIN? DOES HE KNOW THEY WANT HIM TO FIGHT TO LIVE, TO COME HOME, TO RETURN TO TABLE, TO FAMILY AND TO FRIENDSHIP?

THE PHONE RINGS AND A TEENAGER IS ON THE LINE. HE IS NERVOUS AND JITTERY AND WONDERS IF HE CAN MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO TALK.

WHEN HE COME IN HE MAKES EVERY EFFORT TO BE PLEASANT, BUT IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT THERE IS SOMETHING IMPORTANT ON HIS MIND. HE IS BOTHERED BY SOMETHING AND SUDDENLY YOU FIND A COMBINATION OF EMBARRASSMENT AND GUILT AND SHAME POURING OUT. YOU SENSE THAT YOU HAVE ENTERED THE PRIVATE CONFESSIONAL.

HE RECOGNISES THE WRONG HE HAS DONE, THERE IS NO NEED TO STATE THE LAW. ALL HE SEES NOW IS DARKNESS AND DESPAIR.

QUICKLY YOU PRAY THAT GRACE AND FORGIVENESS WILL COME WITH SIMPLE AND DIRECT CLARITY SO THAT THIS YOUNG LIFE MIGHT LIVE AGAIN.

CAN THE LIGHT BE SEEN THROUGH YOU? HE WANTS TO BE TOUCHED BY A GRACE THAT SHARES AND ACKNOWLEDGES THE GRIEF WHILE LIFTING AND CASTING IT OFF.

SHE IS AN ELDERLY PARISHIONER WHO HAS PROBABLY NEVER MISSED A SUNDAY IN CHURCH IN HER LIFE. HER FACE IS RADIENT.

IT IS NOW THREE YEARS SINCE HER LIFE-LONG PARTNER HAS DIED. THEY SHARED THE FAITH AND THE CHURCH PEW. HIS LIFE IS FOREVER ETCHED IN HER BEING.

WHEN THE WORDS OF THE EASTER MESSAGE ARE PROCLAIMED, THE MESSAGE OF HOPE AND ETERNAL LIFE, HER FACE LIGHTS UP AND SHE IS AFFECTED BY THE TELLING OF THAT OLD STORY. SHE IS THERE AT THE GATHERING OF GODíS PEOPLE, TO BE TOUCHED BY A WORD, A WORD SO FULL OF GRACE THAT SHE WOULD NOT THINK OF MISSING IT FOR THE WORLD.

TWO PEOPLE ARRIVING LATE ON A SUNDAY EVENING AT YOUR DOORSTEP, HAVING TO FLEE THEIR COUNTRY, SEEKING A PLACE TO REST.

YOU WELCOME THEM AND FEED THEM, TRYING TO SHOW COMPASSION AND THAT YOU CARE FOR THEM. YOU ARE PUSHED TO THE LIMIT BETWEEN DUTY AND MINISTRY AND REALITY AS WELL AS RESPONSIBILITY TO THOSE OVER WHOM THE CARE OF SOULS HAS BEEN PLACED.

ALIENS, REFUGEES Ė THEY TOO WANTTOBE TOUCHED AND SHOWN LOVE.

THESE ILLUSTRATIONS OR SKETCHES IN MINISTRY PARALLEL THE GOSPEL TODAY FROM ST MARK.

JESUS ENTERS THE HOM OF SIMON AND ANDREW TO FIND SIMONíS MOTHER-IN-LAW ILL WITH A FEVER. THEY TELL JESUS.

Ö.AND NOW WATCHES WHAT HAPPENS. HE TAKES HER BY THE HAND, LIFTS HER UP, THE FEVER LEAVES HER AND SHE SERVES THEM.

JESUSí TOUCH BRINGS THE GIFT OF WHOLENESS Ė THEN AND NOW !

MARK PUTS TOGETHER THE PORTRAIT OF THE POWER AND PREACHING OF GOD THAT IS SEEN IN JESUS, THIS BACK-WOOD RABBI FROM NAZARETH. WHAT HE SAYS AND WHAT HE DOES ARE SO TOGETHER THAT THE WORLDíS DARKENED LANDSCAPE IS THUNDER-STORMED AWAKE. BECAUSE OF THIS, PEOPLE BRING THE SICK, THE DISEASED AND THE DEMON-POSSESSED TO HIM, AND THE APOSTLES ANNOUNCE, "ALL THE PEOPLE ARE SEARCHING FOR YOU". THE PEOPLE PRESS UPON HIM, REALISING THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND.

THIS IS EXPLOSIVE NEWS, PASS THE WORD !

THE THINGS THAT ARE TOLD US IN THE ANCIENT BIBLICAL ACCOUUNTS CONTINUE TO BE THE SAME GREAT, GOOD NEWS THAT IS ON THE MOVE IN OUR TIMES AND LIVES. THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST IS HIS TOUCH. GOD IS THE ONE WHO INITIATED THE ACT OF REACHING OUT AND TOUCHING SOMEONE. TOUCHING YOU, ME. THE PERSONS ON YOUR LEFT AND THE PERSONS ON YOUR RIGHT.

IN COMPASSION AND MERCY CHRIST TOUCHES US AND WE ARE HEALED, FORGIVEN AND RESTORED. CHRIST TOUCHES US AND WE ARE MADE ALIVE. WE ARE EMPOWERED TO SERVE. WE ARE EMPOWERED TO PRAY, PRAISE AND GIVE THANKS.

THE TOUCHING WAS NOT LEFT AS A FRAGMENT OF HISTORY TO BE REMEMBERED. THE TOUCHING GOES ON TODAY BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES AND IS PRESENT AMONG US. HE IS THE ONE WHO CALLS, GATHERS AND NURTURES HIS BODY. THE CHURCH LIVES IN THE WORLD TO EXERCISE HIS TOUCH.

MANY OF US KNOW THE STORY OF JACK FROST. JACK HAD A MISSION TO DANCE HIS WAY THROUGH THE FALL SEASONS OF THE YEAR. WITH A BRUSH HE WOULD TOUCH A BIT OF HIS FROSTY PAINT ON THIS AND THAT IN ORDER TO PREPARE THE WORLD FOR ITS RETREAT INTO WINTER.

THE MISSION IN THE FAIRYTALE IS NOT SO UNLIKE THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH Ė CHARGED TOP TOUCH THE WORLD Ė NOT WITH A MESSAGE TO RETREAT FOR THE COMING WINTER, BUT RATHER A MESSAGE TO PREPARE FOR HE COMING KINGDOM.

A WORLD IS TO BE MADE READY BY THE TOUCH OF CHRIST, PREPARING US TO SEE HIS WILL BEING DONE AND HIS KINGDOM TO COME, JUST AS WE PRAY FOR IT IN THE LORDíS PRAYER.

THE TOUCH IS TO BE SEEN IN SOME PREDICTABLE AND EXPECTED PLACES AND SOME THAT ARE SURPRISING AND UNEXPECTED.

THE TOUCH IS THE WATER ON THE HEAD AT BAPTISM.

THE TOUCH IS A WORD IN OUR EARS.

THE TOUCH IS A TRACING OF THE CROSS ON OUR CHESTS.

THE TOUCH IS BREAD IN OUR HANDS AND WINE ON OUR LIPS.

THE TOUCH IS HOLDING HANDS AROUND A HOSPITAL BED, IN THE BLESSING OF AN UNCONCIOUS PERSON.

THE TOUCH IS IN A WORD WHICH FREES AND RELEASES A TROUBLED TEENAGER.

THE TOUCH IS A MESSAGE THAT ASSURES US OF HOPE, WHICH SHOWS THAT WE CARE.THE TOUCH IS IN THE WELCOME EMBRACE OF AN OUTSIDER OAND A REFUGEE.

THE TOUCH IS KNOWN IN HE FINGERS AND DRILL BITS THAT SCRAPE INTO DRY EARTH SEARCHING FOR WATER TO SUPPLY A DROUGHT PLAGUED VILLAGE.

THE TOUCH IMPRINTS NUMERALS AND NAMES ONTO A CHEQUE, INTO AN OFFERING PLATE, AND TO THE CHURCHíS MISSION AROUND THE GLOBE.

THE TOUCH IS SEEN IN A TEACHERíS MOVE TO A SHY CHILD WHO NEEDS AN EMBRACE.

THE TOUCH COMES THROUGH A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED OR DISCOURAGED.

THE TOUCH IS EXERCISED IN ADVOCATING SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR THE ABUSED, THE NEGLECTED AND FOR HE OPPRESSED.

THE GOSPEL SEES TO IT THAT THE CHURCH HAS A RECORD OF HOW IT WAS WHERE JESUS WENT SO THAT WE MIGHT KNOW TODAY HOW IT IS WHERE JESUS GOES

THEN AND NOW, CHRIST REACHES OUT AND TOUCHES PEOPLE AND THEY ARE MADE WHOLE.

JESUS PROCLAIMS GODíS REIGN AND HIS PEOPLE REJOICE. JESUS COMBINES POWER WITHPROCLAMATION AND SETS HIS PEOPLE FREE. HIS TOUCH MAKES US ALIVE AND MAKES US WHOLE.

AS WE TAKE HIS HAND, HE RAISES US TO OUR FEET AND IT IS FOR THIS PURPOSE THAT WE, LIKE SIMONíS MOTHER-IN-LAW MIGHT LOVE, SERVE, HONOUR AND OBEY HIM FOREVER.

MAY IT BE SO. AMEN
 

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