Fr David's sermon
28th March 2004
'Business as usual' is a typical reaction to momentous happenings that we cannot embrace or understand. We are reassured by the familiar and the common place. We like to return to normality. Today's gospel reading (John 12.1-8) describes a visit of Jesus to the home of his good friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. They enjoyed a meal together, as they had done many times before. Yet the scene is far from normal. In fact it is extraordinary.
Firstly, we are told that Jesus was visiting the home of Lazarus, whom 'he had raised from the dead' and that he 'was one of those at table with him.' Martha was still her usual self, still serving, but what of Lazarus? St. John doesn't tell us. O that we could ask!
Secondly, Mary (Magdalene) went completely over the top. In an extravagant, charged gesture she poured a pound of expensive perfume over Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. The whole house was filled with the scent. Judas feigned outrage at the waste of so much money. Jesus gave meaning to the action. Mary was preparing him for burial that unbeknown to his hosts was less than a week away.
A parish church can mirror the apparent ordinariness and familiarity of that Gospel story. And yet we too should have something of the extraordinary about us not least in the claims we make about our faith, God present with us in Christ, in the reading of the Word, in the breaking of the bread, in the sharing of our lives.
I set these thoughts before us to remind us that something as mundane as an annual meeting should not blind us to the extravagant love of God revealed to us in Christ and in his church.
So much for the first part of what I wanted to say this morning; I'd like to continue by inviting us to consider three questions.
To return to our Gospel starting point, much of the life of the Church is hidden, 'treasure in earthen vessels'. Sitting down at a commonplace dinner with the Son of God, is a man who has returned from the dead. We don't see the full expression of the life of our church unless we actually name what is going on. An annual meeting with its spirit of thankfulness gives us a chance to do that, to see things more clearly, to glimpse God's view, not our own. A prayerful consideration of my three questions I would humbly submit can help in this task, especially if we tackle them in a very specific personal way.
Heavenly Father we ask for grace so that we might know your will for our church; how we can pass on to others the riches you haven given us here at St. Matthew's. We give you thanks for all that you have given us in the past year and we ask that you will continue to guide us in the years ahead. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
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Last updated 01/04/04 17:00:00 Author: David Shepherd