If I had just one more sermon to preach…

During Lent, members of the clergy at St Mary’s are giving addresses at Choral Evensong on the theme “If I had just one more sermon to preach…”

Here’s mine:

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

If I had just one more sermon to preach, I’d tell people that God loved them.

The truth is,

I tell people that in most of the sermons that I preach anyway, so the chances are that my last sermon is unlikely to be much different.

Week by week, we read passages from the bible at Choral Evensong, and in all the other services that we have here in St Mary’s.

The bible is a record of the ways in which people explored their experience of God so many centuries ago.

It has seemed to religious people that there is such depth in that experience, that in some way, God speaks to us through those same words.

Sometimes it has seemed to religious people that we can live the good life by making a bargain with God – if we keep the rules and statutes that God has given us then everything will be OK.

When we read something like that it can seem easy. If we just do as we’re told then things will be fine.

But the bible is a good bit more interesting than that. There’s a narrative. There’s a story of how things worked out.

As much of the bible is about the fact that people don’t tend to keep their side of any such bargain anyway.

When they break it and do their own thing, we learn more about God than we might expect.

There are still people who believe that if they don’t behave then God will smite them.

The bible is full of stories which suggest that isn’t the way it is.

Indeed, it seems to be that people discover the love of God when they least deserve it rather than when they most deserve it.

God’s mercies are not simply for those who agree to live within the values and precepts that we can learn about from just reading a few verses.

If we take the longer view, we find that God’s love is known best by the desperate and sometimes the downright undeserving.

God’s love is there for anyone.

Most of the stories that we read from the bible are stories told in catastrophic circumstance.

Sudden death. Bad news. Political upheaval. National identity crisis. Despair. Poverty.

This is the background to much of the world that we read about.

And it is the world we read it in today.

If I had one last sermon to preach  it would be to say look – for thousands of years, people have testified to the fact that God loves them.

Though desperation and despair. In war and in violence. In loneliness and misery. There have always been people who testified to the fact that they believed God loved them  anyway.

God loves us anyway. No matter the circumstance. No matter whether we think we deserve it. No matter whether we do deserve it. God loves us anyway.

If I had just one more sermon to preach, it would be just one more chance to tell people that that’s my experience too.

I know the love of God in the stories of the bible and I meet the love of God in Christ coming to be part of the world (celebrated at Christmas) and I encounter the love of God in the friendship we will celebrate on Maundy Thursday, the despair of Good Friday and the giddy reality of what comes next.

In my life I see people show the love of God in good times and in bad. Who show love when things are going well and show it even more when things are not.

I have seen that this week. In the kindness and prayers of people who know I’ve been going through a difficult discernment process.

I have seen that this week in moments of grace where you’d think grace could never be found.

I see it in all I see around me in church. In people and art and things. Even in a balloon floating high above our heads in a place that no balloon should be.

I see the potential for love in all things and in all times and in all places.

And I believe it comes from God.

Love is all you need.

All you need for one last sermon.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.



  1. Dear Father Kelvin, you have captured the essence of the Gospel in this Sermon: God is Love and Love is God!

    Today, in Christchurch New Zealand, in the wake of the terrorist attack on the mosques of our City, with 49 dead while saying their Friday Prayers; we are still able to say that God is Love. It is we humans who fail to live up to that ideal.

    Islamophobia – like homophobia and all other phobias – are signs of a human ‘fear of The Other’ that needs to be dispelled, so that Love may win the day.

    Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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