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Tears over clutter

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sermon for the tenth Sunday after Trinity
We see Our Lord weeping over Jerusalem because He knows what’s coming and why. That great Old Testament City is to be completely ruined. The temple will be destroyed. All that the prophets, priests and kings of the Old Testament had worked for, lived for and died for will be obliterated until, as we see it now, we can only glimpse at what it once was.
And we see this happening today. Church buildings are being converted into flats or themed nightclubs. The great Cathedrals are being used for secular events and even for those of non-Christian religions. We see the clergy living “alternative lifestyles” which seems to be a phrase that means “not in keeping with the commandments of God”. We hear of the Q’ran being read from the lectern rather than the Bible.
Is the Lord weeping over His Church?
It’s easy to admit that the state of the Church is always somewhat distressing. We learn of the latest scandal and fear what will become of us. Will the Church, robbed of its true magnificence and authority, die right out?
There are those who cling to the magnificent robes and rituals. There are whole “churches” which exist so that everyone can wear bishop’s robes and be referred to as “Your Grace”. There are those which exist to keep the Church “pure” from liturgical and aesthetic abuses. There are Churches which will go on pride marches and declare that God’s love means that we can love whomsoever we want without realising that they’ve confused “love” with at best a form of friendship mixed with lust.
Is the Lord weeping over His Church?
We could be depressed. We could be tempted to weep. We can even try and scrape together the dust of the Church that we believed we knew just to try and keep it alive.  However, we needn’t be so depressed. There is always hope.
This isn’t a vain empty hope like hoping the barbecue will be a success even though the BBC has forecast rain. We have a true hope – a trust in God that the Church will always survive.
You see, Jerusalem is ruined because she fails to recognise the Lord at His visitation. And that’s the key here.
We have to be in a position to recognise the Lord when He visits us. We can only do that if we are faithful to what He teaches us in the Bible. We will recognise Him because He says what He has always said.
If a man dressed as William Shakespeare reads, “to be or not to be” and says, “I never wrote that!” then it’s clear that either he is not William Shakespeare, or we were wrong to think that he wrote Hamlet.
If a man dressed in a white robe with a beard says, “Love means whatever you want it to mean” then clearly that man is not the Lord because love means sacrifice, hardship and struggle, and no-one wants those. And we know that because Holy Church has always preached the Gospel that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to die upon the Cross that we might be saved from our sins and, to give us the certainty of True Hope, He rose again from the dead so that the Old Testament might be fulfilled and the Good News completed for all those who would enter the Church and find Salvation.
The first act that Our Lord does after weeping for Jerusalem is to clear the temple of the money-changers. And that is what we see happening.
When we see a Church building being converted into something non-Christian, it is because it is no longer necessary. It’s clutter and taking up room for the Church to be somewhere else, somewhere ordained by God.
When we hear messages from non-Christian religions proclaimed in our pulpits, it’s clutter! Our Lord says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” We must believe that and in so doing we must believe that other religions, no matter how well meaning, gentle or benevolent are wrong somewhere along the line.
When we see heresy committed in the name of Jesus, it’s clutter. This is not Jesus for He is always with those who believe in Him. Let it happen and it will be shown up for what it is and weeded out. Don’t be depressed! Keep yourself turning to God! Your Faith will bring you to Him. There will always be priests ready to give you His Grace through the sacraments. You might not find them in beautiful church buildings. You might find them in village halls, cemetery chapels, or even on a boat! But they are there for you and through them God will give you something more magnificent that any Church Establishment could ever be – God’s very self!
It is the presence of God that makes a building truly beautiful. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these things will be added unto you! And pray for all priests that they may be faithful to their calling by the Voice from Eternity!

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