Sunday, April 22, 2018

Metanoia and Thatcher

Sermon for the third Sunday after Easter

Sometimes, everything seems to get at you, even inanimate objects. Jets of water from the tap always seem to end up on you in an embarrassing way. Milk cartons refuse to open without the intervention of heavy-duty cutlery. And let us not get started on trying to open bin bags.

Sometimes the world seems to just get at you.

Of course, some people have it much worse than others. Some of us seem to suffer misfortune after misfortune. Respectable men and women suddenly find themselves with nothing. Clever and enterprising young folk end up on the street. Little children grow up scared and scarred because of the actions of grow-ups.

The Church has a lot of work to do.

If only the world would let us do it.


As Christians, we can definitely subscribe to the feeling that we are being "got at". This is because we are being got at. The question is trying to work out who is getting at us. The answer is not always very obvious.

You might say, "actually, it is the world that's getting at us." Our Lord Himself says, "Verily, verily I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice!" What is this "World"?

It's easy to think that it's a them and us situation. It's us versus the world - Athanasius contra mundi - and we put on our suits of armour and seek to challenge the World to a dual.

The trouble is, the World is not something outside of us. Think of this: you're never stuck in traffic, you are traffic. By being in a car, you are part of the traffic congestion on the M25. Margaret Thatcher is right: Society doesn't exist as something outside ourselves that we can always blame for our troubles. While we participate in Society, we cannot pass the buck.

"What's wrong with the World?" We say as we see the latest atrocity. G. K. Chesterton would reply, "I am." While we are in the World, we cannot separate ourselves from what's wrong with it. While we live in worldly ways, we contribute to the very thing that we struggle with.

How can we hope to separate ourselves from the World?


It's clear that we can't any more than we can package up the darkness before we switch the light on. We turn to Christ and use His light to help us transform our ways. We cannot hope to seek the will of God in worldly desires. A new car will not bring us closer with God: it will just make us more worldly. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.

We turn to Christ. The only thing of any real value to us is the Cross of Christ, His suffering, His humiliation, His death. Death is the only thing that the World can ever give us because it is corrupted by our sin. Christ breaks through that barrier for us and offers us the way through.

We turn to Christ. We learn to value what He values and seek only love and unity with Him. A true search for unity with God cannot exclude other people because if we are united with God, then we will be united with all others who find Him. Our lives are to be spent, not focussing on the world's problems for the world's sake, but focussing on loving God and accepting His values so that we can solve the world's problem in true and honourable service to Him. We can gain the world, but we lose our souls in the process.


We cannot do any good in this world without God's involvement. The solution is simple: we involve God in our lives in prayer and the study of His word. We look at how we can shrug off worldly values and the pursuit of worldly esteem, we take our cross and suffer with Christ.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Just wait in God, and see.

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