Sunday, May 06, 2012

Gifts that will change your life.

My first sermon within the Anglican Catholic Church. It's been a long time since I have posted something under "Sermons" rather than "Homilies". I look forward to publishing more.

Text: St John xvi.5-15
Is there something special that you’d like for your next birthday? Is it something particular that you’ve been dropping hints to your family that you might like? A nice chocolate cake? A new mobile phone? A DVD of All Gas and Gaiters? No? Perhaps you’d looking for a new car, a 48” plasma television, a mansion in the Dales, or perhaps, perhaps you’d like a little peace and quiet… on a luxury cruise to the Algarve? Your family are more likely to be thinking along the lines of the first set of presents, aren’t they?

Suppose, however,  on your next birthday, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Geraldine the post lady and she’s got a package for you. After thanking her, you take your parcel into your house and read the label. “Happy Birthday,” it says, “This gift is going to change your life!”
This gift is going to change your life. How do you feel about that? You might think, “How on earth did they manage to pack my mansion in the Dales into that box?” Would you be a little afraid though? This gift is going to change your life. What might it be?
Surely, your main concern is going to be just how this gift is going to change your life. It’s okay if it changes it by making life a bit easier – a vacuum cleaner that sucks up the dirt rather than blow it all over the carpet – but what if it’s a gift that is going to play around with your very personality. What if it’s a gift that is going to change who you are? Does it worry you that you might not be the same person that you are now just by opening this present?

If you think way back to Septugesima Sunday, the third Sunday before Lent, we read the first chapters of Genesis and in them we read of the Creation of the world by God.  In all of these, we focus on what the Lord God does for us and the gifts that he gives us. In the beginning, we are given the gifts of existence, form, personality, reason and emotion and all the other aspects that make us who we really are. Everything comes from God the Father who forms the Source of all things. God looks at all He has created and it is very good. You cannot get a more life-changing gift than the gift of Life itself!

In little over three months, we have celebrated together two of the great festivals in the Church’s year. The celebration of the Lord’s Birth and the Holy Triduum of Easter. On both feasts we reflect on the gifts that God gives us. We are always encouraged to see this as God the Son giving us His gift.  And what is this gift? Nothing less than His very self. His life, death and resurrection have given us the gifts of health and salvation to return us to the fullness of the life that we lose because of our wrong  and sinful choices. Again, this is a profoundly life-changing gift. This gift of Christ’s new life is what we Christians call Grace.

Now, after His Resurrection, Our Lord Jesus is pointing us to a new gift from Heaven, another gift that will profoundly alter who we are. How will this gift change our lives?


“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”
Would you open a gift if it was going to reprove you of sin, righteousness and judgment?
Well, of course you would! You’re here in Church which means you are well aware of the worth of being shown sin and righteousness and judgement. We are in no different a situation from that of the disciples who, although they may not fully understand what’s going on, still want to open a gift that is going to make them aware of their sin, of the righteousness of Our Lord Jesus and their judgment at His hands.
The same is true for us. We are here to worship our God for the gifts He has given us. All things come from Him and of His own do we give Him. The Holy Ghost gives us the gift of sight, the ability to see God’s gifts for ourselves in our lives.
He convinces us of our sin. This is painful but, in recognising our sin, we become aware of our need for God. He convinces us of Our Lord’s righteousness, that His death and resurrection are absolutely adequate for removing that Sin. Finally the Holy Ghost convinces us of the return of Our Lord Jesus as our Judge, the One who will know how to stamp out injustice completely and rectify every evil committed.
However, the gift still needs to be received. In the midst of our busy lives and with all the cares of the world that are forced upon our attention, it is important that we continue to turn back to this gift anew. With Whitsun around the corner, we have to make the decision again this year. Do we really want our lives changed? Do we really want to be aware of how we stand with God? Do we really want to receive this gift that the Lord Jesus will send us after He ascends into Heaven? Well, do we?

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