‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’ Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. Reconciliation is always hard—often the journey is divisive, painful and lengthy. Think Russians and Ukrainians, Israelis and Palestinians. Think Australia. Where do we see the face of God showing us the way? Today we work through three case studies. Isaac and Rebecca had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Family life was an ongoing struggle—Esau a hairy chested outdoor hunter was dad’s boy. Jacob doted on by his mother. When Esau discovered Jacob had cheated him of what was rightfully his he was furious, ‘After our father dies I will kill Jacob’ he muttered. John Schwerdt shares a family story of reconciliation. And the third case study?
As we commence Advent and the pre-Christmas period, what kind of Christmas do you hope for? What kind of Christmas should I wish you? One of the carols we will probably hear this Christmas is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It’s a very nice carol in many ways. Some of the words are:
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles, will be out of sight
Once again, as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”
A Merry Christmas?? A Little Christmas?? Should that be our goal?
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me.” (NIV) Today is the last Sunday of the church year. We are looking forward towards Christ’s coming and as his people representing him on earth, we ask…how shall we live as we wait his return? Matthew 25: 35-40 focuses on the parable Jesus told about the separation of the sheep and the goats on Judgement Day. This parable refers to Jesus's prophecy in the New Testament (Matthew 25:32) that the sheep (the compassionate) will sit on God's right hand (and find salvation), and the goats (the hard-hearted) will sit on the left (and be condemned.) Justice will be served. But is this the point of the story Jesus told? What message was Jesus trying to tell us in this dramatic parable?
Pam Martin (Lay Reader) at the 8.30am Worship Service
Bishop Andrew Brook (Guest Preacher) at the 10.00am Worship Service (Confirmation)
Apology: there is no audio recording available of these sermons
Jesus’ parable today clearly is directed at Christian disciples for the way they are responding between the time Jesus ascended into heaven and when he comes again on the last day. Thus it sounds very harsh for the case of the one servant who finally gets cast into outer darkness. This servant had misjudged the nature of his master when he was unwilling to take any risk to perform his master’s business. For this he was judged as worthless. He lost even what he had.
On the other hand, those who accepted their responsibilities and were risk-takers are finally rewarded and invited into the joy of the master. It would be easy to dwell on and even wallow in the guilt and negativity the conduct and fate of the last servant engenders. However, there is primarily and especially the encouragement which needs to be taken from the servants who were risk-takers and the joy of the master they entered into for their faithfulness. While we note the worthlessness of doing nothing, we are much better served taking encouragement from those who faithfully and joyfully did their duty.