Sunday 28th

1ST SERMON                   

 

Morning Holy Communion                    Lent 3                   Preacher:  Rev Lynn McKeon

 

1 Corinthians 10: 1-13

Luke 13: 1-9

The hardest question we as Christians might face is:" Why did God let this happen". "This" may be the death of a loved one, child, spouse, or friend. "This" maybe the lingering agony of a cancer patient, or this maybe the wanton act of a depraved criminal. This Great Why is the most difficult of questions. In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus addresses this question. Two situations were brought up, one was concerning the death of some Galileans by Pilate because of their supposed insurrection and the other situation about a tower of Siloam that fell and killed 18 people. Jesus asks a rhetorical question, asking “Are these people worse sinners because they suffered more, and each time he answers no.”                                                                                                                 

Jesus does not equate individual sin to suffering. But he does equate suffering to sinful nature, to the sinful world in which we live. Jesus says because of sin all will perish, he urges repentance by all people whether they have been involved in a tragedy or not.                                                                                                       

Jesus was addressing a problem that was important in his day and is still important today. The view people have of God that shows him to be an angry father, meting out some punishment for every disobedience act of his children. The question that is asked time and time again, "What did I do to deserve this." If this were the way of God, wouldn’t we be getting more pain, more suffering than we are? Many people have not grown up in their relationship with that God so they can view God in this kind of way. God is not the angry Judge, judging each deed then giving out the punishment of sickness, death and tragedy as he sees fit. This is not the correct view of God as we see him in scripture, but sadly, many people have this kind of theology. Everything that happens, everything good or bad comes from God.                                                                                   

If someone takes a fall, and breaks their hip - God didn’t push them. God cannot be blamed or accused for all the brokenness of this world. If God is the author of death, how can He be at the same time the author of life as shown through the resurrection we celebrate each Sunday and especially on Easter Sunday. Is God the God of the living, or the God of the dead? You cannot have it both ways.                           

No, God is more than the angry Judge, God is more than a avenging father meting out punishment to fit the crime. There is more to God than this.                       

Look at the story of the call of Moses and you will see a kind, compassionate God who cares for his people, who doesn’t want to see his people suffer any longer. God said to Moses, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmaster; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians."

Notice God didn’t say, "Moses I am sorry I have caused your people to suffer, and now I want to change that, I will deliver them out of this suffering that I have caused." No way, God did not take responsibility for the suffering the people were encountering. But what he did do, what he is even still doing today, is delivering the people away from suffering, he is and does care for the suffering of people.

I’d like if I may to read to you a letter from the Church Times. It was written by a vicar’s wife who had lost her husband to sickness in the prime of life.

She says:    "He was forthright and full of fun; sensitive and compassionate; vital, young and about to die. No one expected this. It came as a blow. Why him? Why now? Fear, anger, frustration silence. Then we spoke together of his dying and some of the fear was destroyed, and there was a measure of confidence and hope about the new worlds each of us would have. It is now seven months since his death, and I have journeyed through deep valleys of loneliness and tears. My sorrow has been great: I fear it may grow greater; even so, I continue with a measure of confidence and hope. I wonder many things: How can it be that he who is dead continues to live and ministers to me and my children? How can a man’s life work be completed and a marriage fulfilled in so few years? How is it that, in the midst of sorrow and heartache, I found God, not causing but caring?"                                                                         

She found God, not causing but caring. Isn’t that the view of God that we see from the cross?? A God who cared enough for his people that he died on a cross so that the people would live? God is a loving, caring, merciful deity. He is so consumed by these characteristics that he sent a form of himself, Jesus His son, to earth to die so people would not be separated from him any longer. God did everything he could to be caring and loving for his people.                     

It’s beyond my comprehension how people can look at God and only see wrath, they must not see the cross, they don’t see the love, they cannot accept the gift of salvation. So they turn God into a God of wrath that they try to please, so they will have some hand, some action in their salvation.                     

Other people see God not in the terms of wrath or love, but see him in terms of control or manipulating people. These people cannot sense the freedom in the gospel of Jesus, but they see only a God who controls all of life, the good and the bad. But as C.S. Lewis points out this leads to confusion. He says, much confusion stems from a misunderstanding of he concept that "anything is possible to God." Some things, he notes, are impossible even to God because they are inherently contradictory. Thus it would be absurd to say that God can cause both good and evil at the same time. Lewis sees two factors: physical accident and human sinfulness as the chief causes of the world’s pain, and that both are indirect but inescapable consequences of the divine will to create free human spirits."                                                                                                          

It is our freedom to choose, it is our freedom to live lives as we choose, that brought the consequences of sin and brokenness into the world. The question is not, "What did I do to deserve this" as if someone with a great hand were mapping; out the path of life, but the question should be, "How can God help me live with the consequences of sin that have engulfed my life?" The question is not "Why did God do this to me?" But the question is, "How can I let God come calm the troubled waters of my life"? Instead of blaming God for the brokenness of the world, our action should be to turn to him in prayer, in repentance, in hope and in faithfulness. Instead of building a wall between us and God in the time of brokenness, we should be tearing down the wall that separates us from God so that we can let his caring, loving concern for us penetrate our entire lives. Instead of blaming God, we should fall on our knees and ask God to walk with us, to strengthen, us, to build us up, to give us the courage to continue in His mercy and His power.                                                                

God can handle our honest anger, our honest emotions, God can handle all our pent up emotions, feelings, denials running away from the hurts and pain of life.

God can handle it. We must let Him, for when we do, then, we will come to know the great and powerful love and mercy He has for us. God can handle it, period. Let Him.                                                                                                       

As Jesus tells us in the parable at the close of the gospel lesson, God is a patient God who wants his children to come to him. Our response to God when we encounter the brokenness of the world, is not to blame Him, but to come to Him in repentance, as he waits for us.                                                                            

God does not want to see his children separated from Him, He will wait, He will give us many chances to change our ways, to repent, to build a relationship with Him. God is more than an angry judge, He is a patient, kind, loving father. He gives His children many chances to rely on Him, to bear fruit. He helps in any way possible so his children will be strong, will grow tall, as the fruit tree grew tall.                                                                                                                   

Does individual sin equal individual suffering? No!! God through Jesus does though equate individual sin to individual forgiveness. God is a God of love and mercy.

Amen.