The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

St. Martin's Church Street

Salisbury

Wiltshire

SP1 2HY

01722 503123

saintmartins.salisbury@gmail.com

Church of England Salisbury Diocesan Forward in Faith The Society
 
Sarum St. Martin

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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

11th IOT yrB 2018

In order to comprehend what the Lord is saying in this morning’s Gospel we need to visualise the scene.  So, imagination heads on!

First: Jesus had been recognised as a Rabbi even a prophet, and as such He would have sat a little raised up with His hearers gathered around to hear Him.

Second: His hearers were full of enquiry and expectation.  They would have already known about John the baptiser, the first new prophet in generations, and here was a new Rabbi even a new prophet, speaking with authority some said; whilst others said He was speaking with the power of the Devil.

Third: All of His hearers were concerned with one thing; how do I deal with my sin; how do I inherit the Kingdom of God?

So, let your imagination work and see and hear Jesus teaching.  And what is He teaching about?  At one and the same moment, the most sublime and the most ordinary.  Listen again to what He says: The Kingdom of God grows of its own accord, and those who recognise this growth take it into their ordinary every day lives.  And again, the kingdom begins so small but becomes huge.  Jesus was taking simple images with which all his hearers would be familiar and using these images to teach the most profound truth.  So what is that truth?

The People of Israel looked back to the time when God Most High had chosen them out of all the peoples in the world to be His own people.  They had a profound sense that they were indeed a chosen nation.  They had entered into a Covenant with God Most High, most notably at Mount Sinai under the leadership of Moses.  A covenant is a promise between two parties: put simply it means, if I do this for you, you promise to do that for me.  So, God had said to the People of Israel: I will be your God; I will defend you; I will comfort you.  And the people of Israel had said: And we will love you and follow your Laws and Commandments.  Yet, the people of Israel knew that they had not loved the Lord God Most High as they should, that they had rebelled against God, that they had in fact sinned.  And because of their sin the Lord God had given to them the Temple in Jerusalem together with the sacrifices, especially the Great Atonement Sacrifice on the Day of Atonement to be the means by which God wiped away the sins of the people and made them at one with Him again.  And also the Lord God had sent prophets to recall the people to right living. In the Great Atonement Sacrifice on The Day of Atonement God Most High sorted out the sinfulness of the people. But by their continuing sin the people of Israel came to know that they had pushed Him away.  They knew what they wanted, to live without sin, but they did not know how to secure this. The prophets continually recalled the people to right living and yet, the problem continued; how can an unclean people inherit the Kingdom of God?  And Jesus now says to the people of Israel, actually it’s quite simple! So simple in fact that it happens without our noticing it.

Fr David Fisher

We must always remember that God loves us; that God wants us to be one with Him; that God has given us the means and the way in which our at-one-ment with Him can be achieved.  And it is happening without our noticing it.  And it began very small and is now huge.  All around us men & women are being brought into a loving relationship with God Most High through Jesus, the one true mediator between God and man, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  How? by co-operating with the Grace of God and allowing that same Grace into their lives so that their lives might be transformed.  These people are putting themselves, as it were, in the way of Grace, deliberately seeking out the opportunity to be with God, and they are doing so in the very ordinariness of their lives.  They do say their prayers, they do read scripture, they do come to the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the altar and the sacrament of penance, and they do all of this without fuss or bother.  This way of living is as natural to them as breathing.  And as breathing gives life to their bodies so the simple habitual practice of their religious duty gives life to the their souls.  They are people who live a covenant relationship with God as did the people of Israel.  God shows His love for them, and in turn they follow His way of living.  And, just in case you think I am talking about other people, they are in fact us.

God the Father, God Most High, has called each and every one of us out to be His in the name of Jesus the Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  So, what is our response?  The very fact that we are here this Sunday morning shows that we have heard the call of God and have said yes to it.  It is a good beginning.  So the next question is, when we leave this place having taken part in worship and having received the Bread of Heaven what difference will it make in our lives?

Everything that we do in this Church is the simple response of the Christian to the call of God.  It is not exotic, strange or peculiar.  Rather, it is ordinary, it is everyday, it is simple.  Yet, what we do in this church is at the same time extra-ordinary, eternal, and sublime.  In other words what we do in this Church is proclaim the Truth, that in Jesus, God has made it possible for humankind to be at one with Him.  And that is the most extra-ordinary, eternal and sublime thing that needs to be lived out in the ordinary things of life.

Sitting a little raised up Jesus spoke to His hearers in words and images that they could understand.  In our worship we take what we are and offer it to God, sure that He will give it back to us suffused with His grace for our salvation.  Let us therefore never fail to offer to God what He gave to us that He might be worshipped and we might be saved and the Kingdom of God might be seen on earth in lives transformed, as it is seen in heaven by lives transformed.

Pray that it may be so.

Amen

A PRAYER FOR OUR PARISH

Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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