Sermon – 5 June 2005

The bible makes for poor history and worse law. As history it is inevitably a record of either those celebrating victory or those bearing a grievance. As law, it is hard to know whether to try to keep the detail or to try to extract precepts.

The readings this morning give us much to think about. For the initial reading that we had is a text which is as politically charged now as it was politically motivated when it was written. The record of the nomad Abraham and his family is unusually vivid to us. The idea of God calling Abraham to leave his life behind and take hold of a particular piece of land must make us feel uncomfortable as it sounds so familiar to us. The cry of those who would take land in the middle East in God?s name is still with us. It is with us in the language of Israeli settlers, Palestinian farmers. But is it also with us in the call of the religious right in America and increasingly in the UK.

Take the Land! God is with us!
Does God call us to stop and take hold of what is not ours and make a home in land which does not belong to us. This is the spirituality of certainty; the knowledge that you can take what you like for you do it at God?s instruction. The part of the book of Genesis that we are reading this morning has that stirred into it somewhere. It is the spirituality of capture, enslavement and crusade. But is that what God?s call is all about?

Of course not!

And knowing that it is not what God is about does start us off on a journey to discover what it is that God is about and what are the precious gems of spirituality hidden in our own tradition which glint out at us from the biblical texts.

For the reading that we have this morning all point us towards one of the themes that run through the bible and which we can speak of with confidence. It is not all about conquest at all but about calling.

The bible speaks to us time and time again about the idea of calling and it is a key theme in religious life.

What is God saying to me today?

What is God saying to us today?

These are the questions which drive religious life. They are the fuel which all us to move on. They are th prompters for us to journey, to walk, to move.

What is God saying to me today?

What is God saying to us today?

These are the questions which turn us from being nomads wandering in the wilderness to being pilgrims on a journey.

The journey that is the religious life has components ? things that we do in order to get to know God.

Those components are known collectively these days as spirituality, but they have been remarkably the same for all the generations since Abraham walked the earth.

Let me run through some of them

? Spending time alone with God. Remembering that God is within us ? as near to us as our latest breath. That God is within our psyche ? prompting us on urging us to goodness.
? Spending time with others who are seeking after God. (That might be church!) Learning that God is not just in us but that God is in others. Remembering that God is most apparent to us in those who are different.
? Spending time serving others. This is a religious act ? it is a spiritual act. It makes us more human and more godly to serve those who are around us in need.
? Letting the rhythms of prayer sink into our being. Prayer is about rhythm ? the spiritual life begins with the beat, beat, beat of the human heart and goes on learning more complex and more exciting rhythms as time goes on. I was much struck by the recent television program where 5 men spent time living with the rhythms of a Benedictine monastery for 5 weeks. Those rhythms of prayer are one of the gifts that the religious traditions offer to the world.
? Using the senses that God has given us to perceive the world with thankfulness in our hearts. At the heart of what we do week by week is eucharist ? which means nothing more and nothing less than thanksgiving.
And tying all these things together is an over-riding sense of readiness. Readiness that we will not miss out on knowing God when that which is good comes our way.

This is what knowing God is all about. This is the kind of thing that God calls us to. Whether we are nomads in the wilderness or tax collectors in the city, the call is still the same.

God calls human beings. And religious people the world over proclaim as I do today that God can be known on earth.

We must never undermine the bible by thinking that God only calls holy people and that that does not include us. Let us never be swayed by the temptation that these things are all very well for giants of the faith like Abraham or sinner converts like Matthew but that they are no use to ordinary people like me.

For God calls us all.

These things are for holy people. And you become holy in God?s eyes by being born and walking the earth.

Holy things really are for holy people. And every person is a holy person in God?s book.

And God?s book is where we came in. I said that the bible made poor history and worse law. But as a record of those whom God has called it is second to none.

For God calls us. Calls us all. And calls us to do something. To move on from our wandering in the desert to becoming pilgrims on the Way.

With Abraham and Sarah of old, with the psalmist, with Paul of Tarsus and the community church of Matthew, all of whose voices we have heard today, we are on the move.

Called by God. Beckoned by God. Prompted by God. Nudged by God.

And each of us facing the same questions that have faced religious people for centuries.

What is God calling me to be today?

What is God calling us to be today?



  1. Kelvin says

    Re: Semon – 5 June 2005
    Nice o­ne K

  2. Kelvin says

    Re: Sermon – 5 June 2005
    Fine re Israelis and even the demonised US right but no mention of the o­ne Middle Eastern religion which has ALWAYS ruled by the sword and now the suicide bomber?

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