Home > Resources > Sermons

Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams

Well, royal baby fever has cooled a little, six days after the birth of Prince George. The papers were full of it, even the Guardian, which is not known for being royalist. On the day of the birth, the editorial included a phrase which has stayed with me. Reflecting on how the popularity of the monarchy had fallen very low in the eyes of the British public (especially in the 1990's) the editor acknowledged that it had bounced back; the Monarchy he conceded had a logic-defying resilience. What a fascinating phrase! A logic-defying resilience. Just when you thought that the Monarchy was fatally wounded and Britain might be closer to being a Republic, it bounces back with new energy and new life – literally new life! Maybe Prince George will inherit a Kingdom, even though it's not likely to be until after 2050. It struck me that the phrase 'logic-defying resilience' can describe another kingdom. The kingdom of God is a way of talking about the rule of God. But even that isn't quite the right language, for it can suggest domination or coercion. Divine power is rather about life-giving energy working through that which it has already created. It is the Creator seeking cooperation from his Created Order.

There is so much in the world which can make us despair. Where is the rule of God in Egypt or Syria or for the millions living under oppression around the world? Like the British Monarchy we may be tempted to think that the divine Monarchy has been weakened. We may be tempted, but we would be wrong.  The Spirit of God cannot help being at work in our world, renewing it, redeeming it, and finally recreating it. The Kingdom of the Creator has logic-defying resilience. Or it appears to, because actually it does have logic. If the Creator is still alive and well and living in His world, then Creation was not an event rooted at the beginning of time, but a process which started then and goes on and on and on. And it's easier to see that process at work if we have allowed the Creator to touch us. Rudolf Steiner wrote this: 'The outer world, with all its phenomena, is filled with divine splendour, but we must have experienced the divine within ourselves, before we can hope to discover it in our environment.”

In recent weeks I have been experiencing something of the splendour of outer world and I guess you will have too. The phenomenon of nature. Beans, blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries (well nearly - not ready quite yet) and much more. All the result of hard work by my able wife and daughter, with some occasional digging and clearing from the less able yours truly (plus bonfire making). We have had first hand experience of the power of nature. It has been a good year for growing fruit and veg. So good that we have harvested raspberries and strawberries where we didn't expect to, in ground that has been neglected. Nature is prolific, resilient. Life IS life, it bursts out. Of course, in the plots that have been cleared and tended properly, the harvests have been greater and more rewarding. And here is a great picture of the Kingdom of God. The life and power of God is already at work, resilient and prolific, renewing and re-energising. When we make ourselves available to cooperate with that power, then the fruit will be that much greater. So what does it meant to cooperate with the rule of God? St Paul provides the answer. In those pivotal verses in Colossians he says: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Being rooted in Christ means being rooted in the Creator, for, as Paul goes on to say. “In him (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

A gardener has no power to make things grow. He, or in my case, she, can only assist the growing that takes place anyway. Her job is to help create the best conditions possible to enable growth, and indeed growth of the right plants. So it is with the Kingdom. We cannot grow the Kingdom. We CAN enable the Kingdom to grow in us so that the way we live enables the Kingdom to grow in others and in the world.

The theologian and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer wrote much about the Kingdom of God. He says this: “The miracle must happen in us before it can happen in the world. We dare not set our hope on our own efforts to create the conditions of God's Kingdom in the world. We must indeed labour for its realisation. But there can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts... Nothing can be achieved without inwardness...”

If that sounds tough, fear not, help is at hand. It's why we reach for the prayer we call The Lord's Prayer, as we will do later in this service. Personally I prefer to call it the Kingdom prayer. Luke's version is a little shorter than Matthew's. Do have another look at it with me. And have in mind the image of a gardener preparing the ground so that it may flourish. In this prayer we are asking God, as Schweitzer put it, to work the miracle in us; we are the soil to be worked on.

And as we take each phrase, we will indicate some signs of the Kingdom world seen on earth.

'Father, hallowed be your name.' Jesus is saying first of all acknowledge the relationship you have with God, with Abba, Your heavenly Dad. The One who is Father to all, Creator of All, holy in character and purpose, calls you into close relationship, to be in partnership with Him. It is the Father's Kingdom we want to come, not our own. If we are building our own Kingdom to glorify our own name this prayer corrects us. In gardening terms, Lord, clear out the weeds of pride or self-promotion; help us to make room for your splendour to be seen. And worship is where we do that – we give the praise and glory to God.

'Give us each day our daily bread.' i.e. equip us with the tools we need. And as God is Father to all, daily bread is for all. Churches have always sought to provide for the material well-being of the communities around. Today, that is so more than ever. Hundreds of churches have set up food banks, homelessness projects, clothing banks etc, and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has challenged us to set up Credit Unions, to assist those heading for crippling debt. Every project working for the needy is a living creed, demonstrating belief in the God whose abundant provision in nature is for all, not a few.

‘Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone indebted to us.’

Not an optional extra for disciples of Christ. Leaving to God the business of calling others to account is central. As the fruit and veg grow, so can thorns and thistles – they need to be constantly pulled up. The latest inspiration we have here is Maureen Greaves, whose husband was a church organist in Sheffield before he murdered on Christmas Eve. Last week she said “''Alan… would not want any of us to hold on to feelings of hate and unforgiveness.'' An impressive response from someone rooted in Christ.

Finally, “Do not bring us to the time of trial.” We might say “Don't allow yourself to be uprooted, to be separated from Christ.” Some believers in Colossae were doing just that, which is why Paul warned them not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deceit. Only we know for ourselves what kind of philosophy or thinking might uproot us from Christ.

So in summary, this is a serious prayer. Lord, your Kingdom come and let it come in me first. Clear away everything that chokes your life growing in me and bearing fruit through me. Your kingdom has logic-defying resilience. Let me be a partner with you in all you are doing in Your world and may new life spring up in me and around me. For YOUR name's sake and for your glory. Amen.

 

 


Sermons
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Dr Sue McWhinney
Webpage icon Homily preached by Sue McWhinney
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by The Dean
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Bishop Tom Butler
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Revd Canon Steve Allen
Webpage icon Homily preached by Sue McWhinney
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Pastor Sebastian Feydt
Webpage icon Homily preached by Jon Howard (Reader)
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Bishop Colin Buchanan
Webpage icon Homily preached by Sue McWhinney
Webpage icon Homily preached by Jon Howard (Reader)
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Homily preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Homily preached by Canon Andy Williams
Webpage icon Homily preached by Sue McWhinney
Webpage icon Notes for a sermon preached by Canon Sam Corley
Webpage icon Sermon preached by Canon Sam Corley
Webpage icon Homily preached by Jon Howard (Reader)
Printer Printable Version