Sunday, August 02, 2020

Dreaming of more than in Heaven and Earth

Sermon for the eighth Sunday after Trinity

What is a university for?

You might say that universities are places engaged in a search for knowledge and which impart this knowledge on those who would pay for it.

Yet it seems, at the moment, there are strong opinions on university education. Some see a good university as a place where they can develop their own theories and thus better understand the issues so that they can fight for what's right in Society.

Others see universities as wastes of taxpayers' money studying silly subjects which don't actually mean anything except the prospect of a better future just by having a degree. 

Certainly, Science is being sneered at by some because it is not providing answers to the Coronavirus problem. There seems to be different scientific advice as to whether masks should be worn, how long it will last and whether we will ever be able to stop the social distancing.

There are a lot of answers out there and a lot of squabbling as to who is right.

And into this Areopagus walks St Paul.


What does St Paul make of the university? He hears debates, lots of theories and lots of gods. He even sees people hedging their bets by making sure that the unknown god isn't forgotten, just in case.

St Paul points out that the god that everyone has forgotten is God Himself, the Creator of all things.

We hear him speak powerfully about God, of Jesus and about resurrection.

What's interesting is that the learned men aren't convinced. Some laugh, some would hear more, but St Paul is unsuccessful in bringing the Athenian academics to faith compared with his success in Macedonia. Of course, some believe, but there is no mass conversion of the Areopagus.

And that's a good thing. The academics are behaving wisely.


One of the main obstacles to know what's going on are conflicting reports. We see this all the time. On Social Media, we see news and fake-news; we see memes and video clips, and we are tempted to listen only to those views which support our beliefs and reject the views which don't as fake.

That's lazy and it leads to divisions.

The same is true for Christianity.

To often, we seek to divide ourselves on issues which may be of great importance. In order to make a better judgement, we have to listen to the other side carefully. Our Lord Himself warns us that we first have to cost out any project before we start.

If we don't think carefully then we can end up hating people from a knee-jerk reaction to what they say. That's not on. We can hate nobody - God says so. If what we hear and see on the news and social media makes us hate others, then there is something deeply wrong. We need to be critical, listen to opposing views and think about them properly, not just give in to who shouts the loudest.


When we preach the Gospel, we have to remember that we will not reach everyone straight away. Some people will resist to the bitter end. As Christians, we are part of God's university. We seek to know Him better. We seek to teach people about Him. We have no need for a university degree in order to do this from our hearts - the graduation to Heaven will be enough.

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