Sunday, May 21, 2017

Doing what it says in the mirror

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Easter

You wake up one morning to a perfectly normal day. The sun shines through the curtains, and the birds are singing as usual to welcome a new day. You get up, stretch and head to the bathroom. As you look into the mirror, the face you see is not what you’re used to – it’s the opposite sex for starters! How do you react?


You might say, “oh no! The mirror’s broken, again!” but how do you know the face in the mirror really is not your own? Try another mirror? Look at your face in a spoon? Ask a family member? Can you really have forgotten what you look like?

St James paints a colourful picture of the man who hears the word of God, yet does not act on it, and it leaves us asking the question, “how can I be sure who I really am?” This may sound a bit too philosophical for a Sunday, yet each one of us has a moment when we say to ourselves, “was that really me?” There are things that we do which are somehow unlike us, either to our amazement, or our disappointment. There are things that we do that we have no knowledge of. Have you ever gone out and reached your usual destination, and then suddenly thought, “how on earth did I get here?”

Many people sleepwalk through life without ever really being, don’t they?


St James seems to be suggesting that what we do affects who we are. If we do nothing, then we become nothing but a phantom whose very image evaporates. Of course, we have to be careful. What we do does not save us, but if we hear God’s word and let it not affect our lives then what good does it do us? St James would tell us that Jesus saves you, but who is the you that He saves?

It is clear that in following Our Lord’s word, we are transformed in His love, but we have to want that transformation. We have to want to change so that we die to our sins and live to God. Our salvation is a process, not a one-off. Jesus says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and then He says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” Doing whatever Jesus says is as much believing in what He says as anything else. Doing is part of our Faith. Doing makes us who we are in an act of self-creation. In giving us free-will God gives us the ability to play an active role in our own creation and more, for Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do ; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

In wanting to be transformed in Christ, and seeking to do what it takes to be transformed in Christ, we must expect to be taken out of what is familiar and into the uncomfortable. How can we become new if we cling to our old selves and our old way of doing things? Indeed, if we suffer difficulties because we seek God’s will, then that is a sure way of knowing that we are on the right track.

What will you see when you look in the mirror when you get home? What about tomorrow morning?

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