Third Sunday of Lent: Year C

Sermon Title: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT: YEAR C

Date: 28th February 2016

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke 13:31-35

You probably have heard me say many times, ‘All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.’  Quoting Julian of Norwich.

If I were to think of myself as either a realist or an optimist I would say I am both but would lean more to the hopeful side of viewing life though fully aware of the reality of suffering and pain that many of you and me and people around the world have experienced or are experiencing.

I am someone who hopes, who tries to hold onto the message of love rather than the message of fear. That message of fear we hear from the media or even from other ‘voices’ from our childhood, teenage years, work life etc., and are ones we wrestle with (if and when we are willing and able) so that we can live with a view of hope, of love, of optimism.

As I reflected on the reading from Isaiah, the prophet was a hope filled person.  He knew the pain of the people of Judah and Jerusalem who have been in exile. They were violently removed from their homeland 40years earlier, wandering in the wilderness, wondering what will happen to them…(Sounds  rather familiar for today’s refugees and asylum seekers!)

The exilic community would have been physically depleted, emotionally and spiritually as well.

Anyone who has suffered badly does not embrace hope easily.

The prophet invites… not quietly, but with conviction that God will provide. Trust God.

I have read the verses from this passage  a few times, and the word ‘listen’ is repeated, the word ‘come’ is repeated, the word ‘see’ is repeated.

Listen to me! Listen carefully to me. Listen, so you may live.

Come………see…….those words reminds me when Nathanael said to Philip, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'(speaking about Jesus) and Philip said to him, Come and see” (John 1:45, 46). “Come and see” was Philips’ invitation to Nathanael.

The prophet to the exilic community invites: Come! See! This is where you will find strength to persevere. This is where you will be nourished. This is the God of your ancestors who has not abandoned you.

Are you thirsty?  Thirst for God… drink deeply the waters of spiritual quenching.

This prophet was a godly man who listened to the voice of God and could hold both pain and joy of the peoples whilst declaring the way to fully embrace life with God.

When Jesus was stopped by the Pharisees, to persuade him not to go into Jerusalem, he was very aware that this was the way he needed to go for the sake of humanity.  He was anguished at the way Jerusalem always kills the prophets and all he wants to do is gather everyone together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

As David Lose a theologian wrote: “and so Jesus continues on to Jerusalem not to prove himself fearless or a hero, not to make a sacrifice for sin to a judgmental God, not even to combat death and the devil.  Rather, Jesus marches to Jerusalem and embraces the cross that awaits him there out of profound love for the people around him, a mother’s fierce love that will stop at nothing to protect her children.”

It was out of profound love for all people, why Jesus continued to Jerusalem and to the cross… Love is the key to the way we are to live life.

Jesus like the prophet before him, listened to God. Knew deeply God’s love for all people.

He despaired the lack of love we show each other.  He wept over the death of a friend, he wept over Jerusalem.  In the garden of Gethsemane he was down on his knees crying out to God that he didn’t want to die.

Jesus held both pain and the joy of human life and was insistent that we hear and learn the powerful message of hope and of love which he understood very well.

This season of Lent is an invitation to you to put your trust, your lives under God’s wings… under his love and protection.

It’s an invitation.

Do you thirst for God?  Do you really thirst for God?

Then

Listen carefully to me, says God! Our heads are full of busy monkeys, thoughts that keep fleeting in about all sorts of things. Our anxieties, our stresses, our concerns for those we love.  To be aware of them but not let them take over is important so that you can hear the voice of God talking to you.  A sense of purpose, calm inner peace will be yours.

Do you thirst for God?

Come to me, says God! Take time daily to be with God intentionally rather than going off doing the next thing…it can surely wait 10 minutes? It is so easy to be trapped in our materialistic/physical world that our spiritual selves become much depleted. And it is in the feeding of our souls, that we then view the world differently and ourselves.

Do you thirst for God?

See!  Who you really are! A profoundly loved child of God and with this strong sense of Being, you will be able to go through trials and temptations though at the time, you may call out ‘I don’t want to go through this.’ why is this happening?  I feel so alone’.  That’s when we go back to taking time with God and listening and hearing the words of love, of comfort, of hope.

At the moment I am seeing a woman weekly, who is dying and I take her communion and anoint her.  She finds this ritual, this spiritual feeding so very helpful as she faces her impending death.

She knows she is a loved child of God and yet wants to hear the words of assurance about the embrace of God’s love which is not separated by death. God’s love is here for her and her family now and will be when she dies.  The words of assurance are words of love, of hope, of connection.

A good reason to come to church is to spend time with God. To centre yourself again. To know that others are praying for you if you can’t. It’s not all about ‘us’… we gather as the body of Christ and have concerns for all the peoples of the world.  The bread and wine are here for you to take and eat and drink. To spiritually nurture you so that you can go out to be the change you want to be and see in the world.

Listen!                  Come!                   See!

Every little sign of life that emerges in the world around us- love, joy, hope, some small achievement of justice, a stand for truth – is part of the hope, the love that is from our life giving God.

And yes, I believe, if I listen to God, come and sit a while and see that I too am loved: I am able to say with conviction:  ‘All shall be well. All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’

The Lord be with you.