Homily Two

May 10th, 2020 by admin-su

homily3

Easter 4- 3.5.2020 Using Acts 2. 41-47 and 1 Pet 2. 18-25
The psalm set for today, number 23, and is certainly appropriate for our current situation.
If someone decided to paraphrase this Psalm in a way that was set for these current days they may well put verse: 4 Even when I walk through the valley of Corona Virus I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. When this is all over, and the historians and statisticians start to analyze this period, I suspect it will emerge that people of faith (any faith) were among those who dealt with it best.
Why? Because a person of faith knows they are not alone in facing struggles.
The reading from Acts 2. 41-47 (NIV) also has significance for today
The Fellowship of Believers
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It talks about the early church and how they met together both in the temple and at home. Today we can’t meet in the temple, but look what has happened. The Church, has stopped being the ancient building in the town centre and has gone back to where it all started; in peoples homes.
My friend sent me something on Facebook about this. It showed Satan and Christ having a discussion. Satan tells Jesus something like “With corona virus I have closed all your churches”. And Jesus replies Wrong! I have opened one in every home. With the help of social media, television and video (good old zoom) conferencing software, the church has indeed opened in many homes. I suspect that will not simply cease once lockdown has ceased.
Another line in the reading from Acts that really caught my eye was this that you to may have noticed –
“They worshiped together… all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.”
It has been a long time since Christians could claim to enjoy the goodwill of all the people. But we are seeing good will again even if it isn’t for the church. What we are seeing is that select groups of people are enjoying the goodwill of the vast majority of us.
We see it when whole streets or whole blocks of flats join together to applaud those working tirelessly to save us. It started with health workers but it has grown to include all essential workers. ‘Essential worker’ has almost always meant members of the emergency services, but this current situation has broadened that definition and rightly so. I can’t possibly list all who are now seen as essential, but the definition has grown to include bin collectors, delivery drivers, shop workers and many more.
This situation has shown us just how essential a whole host of people are; people who were previously invisible. When they were visible many often looked down on them.
I read in the paper the other day where a bin collector in Burnley Lancashire a 3 year old and his family stood at their window and applauded the bin men as they collected the families rubbish,
Other reports had one refuse collector say ‘how suddenly they are no longer invisible.
They are spoken to, they are applauded and they are appreciated. He said that in all his years as a bin-man this never happened and people only spoke to him to curse him for holding them up. Times have changed – may the NEVER go back.
The reading from St. Peter’s letter was originally addressed to slaves, advising them on their behaviour. 1 Peter 2:18-25 (NIV)
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,”[b] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Hardly relevant today is it? Or, is it?
Yes slavery still exists, but in most parts it has all but disappeared from western society.
So is this part of Peter’s letter relevant? Yes I think it is because the people today, who might be equated with slaves of the past, are that vast army of menial workers paid minimum wage (or less) with zero hour contracts and generally treated like… slaves.
And yet many of this group have been wonderfully elevated in our eyes to people worthy of applause.
The other reason this reading from St. Peter applies , even to you and me, is that in many translations the word slave is substituted with servant. And we are all servants in one way or another; so Peter’s words apply. He advises us “if you’re treated badly for good behaviour and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.” (1 Pet 2.20 MSG)
What he is saying here is do your best under all circumstances and you will please God. This is essentially what Jesus was telling us in The Beatitudes; go the extra mile, give more than expected and even turn the other cheek. And during this current world crisis so many are doing just that. They are excellent servants in spite of the hardship – they are going the extra mile – they are giving much more than expected. They rightly deserve our applause.
Perhaps we should stop for a moment, reflect ……
Our readings are not just some words written for people of the past, they are as alive today and will be until the Lord returns….
When it all goes back to normal how can you, how can I ensure that we don’t go back to the old normal.
FIRST: Let’s continue to be like the early church described by St. Luke.
Let’s us remember as much as we love the church of St Francis, let us remember.
The building It is not the church –as much as we appreciate it, BUT we are – wherever we meet be it at home, in the shops, the village hall or wherever, we are the church.
SECOND: Now that so many previously invisible, yet always essential, people are visible and appreciated let’s continue to give our applause and appreciation. They do those essential jobs that many wouldn’t even consider doing.
In the past how much did we notice them, how much did we value them. Let’s follow St. Paul’s advice “Don’t… be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.”
At least consider them all equal; that is how God considers each of us.
AMEN