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The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity – 29th August 2021

August 29, 2021

Thank you for joining our online worship including our Holy Communion and a short sermon. Below them are links to a selection of music (traditional,  modern and prayerful). Thanks once again to Stephanie Woollam for prayerfully choosing such a broad range of inspiring sacred music.

Please continue to share your views on our services.

God bless,

Nigel.

Welcome to our Holy Communion, led by The Revd. Nigel Tuffnell

Our sermon today, from The Revd. Sue Auckland

Music links (just click on the titles below to be taken to the music hosted by YouTube).

More Traditional:

O Jesus, I Have Promised

O for a heart to praise my God

More Modern:

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

Here’s my heart lord

Prayerful
 

Sermon Text

Sermon on Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 13th Sunday after Trinity.

As we get older, there is a temptation to look back on the past and think of how good things used to be, but sadly, we are often remembering through rose tinted spectacles! Life was simpler – there was no social media, litter or graffiti; there was less crime, more police; marriages lasted and abuse didn’t exist, or at least not in the public eye! More people went to church and believed in God and in church everyone dressed smartly, hats were worn by both the men and the women and children were seen but not heard!! 

But actually, although those may be some of our perceived memories  and perceived  traditions of the time, which some folk may wish they were still a reality  today, actually  – they often weren’t as they seemed. In some cases they were good and served a useful and timely purpose, but some had no purpose and some just weren’t true.  – hiding the truth  or retaining something ‘because that’s the way it’s always been done’ is not necessarily good, essential or helpful. Tradition is important – it can create a sense of community but sometimes tradition becomes distorted, practices are more important than people and the valid reason for doing something is lost. And when that’s to do with faith practices, it can distract us from the things that are really important, like our worship, our relationship with God  and our service to others. You may not agree but I don’t believe God minds if we forget to light the candles or come to church in jeans, but he might if we made someone feel unwelcome  or didn’t honour him as we engaged with worship.  To God it’s what’s in our heart and minds that is important and makes us his followers.

Jesus criticised in his fellow Jews for something similar “ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition” he told them, as they criticised his disciples for not traditionally washing their hands before they ate! To Jesus the Jews were caring more about tradition than spiritual things or people’s welfare!  He quotes God’s message through Isaiah to them –  “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” Jesus advocates a religion that is a religion of the heart. He’s not interested in outdated or irrelevant traditions – doing them doesn’t earn us brownie points with God and not doing them doesn’t make us less close to God –  it’s what lies in our hearts that matters when we’re talking about faith. 

In today’s reading we  can see that, the way of life of the Pharisees and the deeper meaning given by Jesus, are at odds. And it happens today when folk work to serve and fulfil the ‘obligations’ of society or church but don’t recognise that God has a voice too. As Christians we should listen to the things that  God is telling  us are important – that we are loved by Him, and that that should guide our relationship with him and the way we live our daily lives;  listening to God helps us recognise the things that are important in our worship, in our lives and in the communities in which we live. And when we are open to Jesus, he  often shows us the need to act upon his word. It is not enough to honour him with our lips – it’s our deeds that are important.  Our faith shouldn’t be passive or academic faith but an active and living faith driven by the the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus’  words to the Jews must have been shocking for many but Jesus was never afraid of being controversial – he said it how it was and how it should be according to the will of his Father. His words wiped aside the need to adhere to the rituals of the law, much of which had complicated religion and warped human life and stunted personal growth. His words condemned hypocrisy that abandoned the commandments of God in order to cling to human traditions.

We must never allow ourselves to forget that It’s our hearts and actions that are important to God;  God sees into our hearts and minds and into our very being. He calls us to honour him in our worship and in our actions; to love as he loved and to let that love underpin everything we do – our worship, our relationship with him and how we use that love in service to our neighbours.  And sometimes that will mean being controversial as we speak out against injustice, against practices that impact on peoples’  well being and the well being of the planet. But we need to do it because of Love – love that died on a cross to save us and rose again to give us new life now and for eternity. 

God is love and that is how we must be too.

Amen.

From → Worship

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