Fr. David's sermon
24th April 2005
'...You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people...' 1Peter2.9
If you gave up something for Lent, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate, you probably experienced cravings. Once something is denied us we want it more, we crave for it, although only the addict has true cravings, going through great mental and physical agonies until the next fix.
In his epistle St. Peter tells us, 'like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.' It is fortunate for most newborn babies that their parents are programmed to love and care for them. Their behaviour in crying for food until they get it would otherwise be ignored. Babies crave for milk because their very survival depends on it. They need it for salvation if you like. The image of a baby longing for milk and letting everyone know about it is one that we need to have before us as we read this passage.
As a caution we might note Bishop Richard Holloway's observation that religion can be addictive, but that said, we are meant to long for the things of God so that we may grow into the people he wants us to become.
Today's epistle is a good one to set before us at our APCM as it reminds us what God is calling us to be as a Christian Church. If we feel discouraged by St. Peter's description we need to remember that his church wouldn't have been like that either. His words point to what the Church by God's grace is meant to be. St. Peter's church facing persecution would have felt down hearted and afraid.
We can pick three important points form the epistle to help us understand what God wishes us to become.
To end with a topical thought we are often discouraged because the Western Church is an aging Church. Actually I believe that as we rediscover the truth of St. Peter's words we open up the possibility of renewal, of becoming a young church once again, not just in actual years but also in outlook. That said I notice the impact on our youth obsessed secular society of the witness of the frail and aged Pope John Paul II, in life and also death. I also note that in Pope Benedict XVI we now have a 78 year old as Pope.
I'm not quite sure exactly what but I feel that God is trying to tell us something here. Perhaps it is that an aging Church still has within it the seeds of renewal if we long for God, if we let ourselves be built into a spiritual house and if we rediscover our calling as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God' s own people.
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 have 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.
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