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The Doom-monger at the Door

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sermon for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity

There is a knock at the door. You open it to find one of those very earnest “religious” types who immediately begins with “isn’t it a terrible world? Look at all the things going wrong.”

Before your visitor carries on with this speech, you have the opportunity to speak your mind, but you have to be quick.

Quickly, then, is this a terrible world, or not?

[PAUSE]

It would be unsurprising if your gut reaction was, “yes, this is a terrible world. Look at all the poor, the starving. Look at those affected by disasters both small and large. Look at all the resources being waste. Look at climate change. Look at the decline in morals…”

Goodness, your gut has a lot to say in a split second!

We live in Evil times, don’t we?

Clearly, we can’t pretend that everything is sweetness and light. Our Christian duty is to stand alongside people in their suffering, offering them some comfort, and trying to help end the oppression that afflicts so many. There is a lot of mourning to be done with those who mourn. But is everything really terrible? Are human beings so totally evil?

[PAUSE]

Right in the beginning, God sees all that He has made and, behold, it is very good. There’s an interesting little point about this. What about things in the future? Has God made things that don’t exist yet? If it is God that has made us and not we ourselves, what about our children’s children and our children’s children’s children? Clearly, God is responsible for the existence of everything. He sits beyond Time and Space. Everything is present to Him. And everything is very good.

Evil may have entered creation by the free choice of Adam and Eve, but what God’s very existence tells us is that it works out all good in The End.  Beyond the confines of Time and Space, Evil doesn’t have any part in Creation. We see Evil because we are stuck in Time and its effects. We cannot step outside to see the Truth. This is why we must have faith in the One Who can Truly See, for He has created all things from nothing.
Nice thought, but what about people’s suffering now? This is so difficult, especially when there is so much suffering that we can’t even begin to see how to stop it. However, God’s goodness means that, no matter how bad things get, our suffering and pain are not without meaning to God who not only sees but chooses to suffer with us to show that we are not alone. All things work for good for those who love God.

On the Cross, Christ redeems humanity from the clutches of Sin and Death. He buys us back from Evil by pouring His Blood into the crack in Creation caused by Sin. Ironically, in paying the price for Sin He destroys Evil in the same way that a hole in the pavement is destroyed by paying it back with concrete.

[PAUSE]

And we, too, are to be redeemers. Not in the same way, but St Paul bids us be redeemers of the time because the days are evil. We are to buy back time from the evil in the world by seizing every opportunity to see and preach the Good.

Like a hole, Evil is the absence of Good, so the more Good there is, the less Evil there can be. The more we consecrate our days to the love of God, the more we wrest opportunities from the Devil and his failed attempt to make Creation evil and flawed.

Human beings may be capable of evil, but we are fundamentally Good. We are salvageable from Evil. If we were totally Evil, there would be nothing left to save, but Christ becomes fully Human so that everything that makes us human can be saved.

[PAUSE]

There will be times of despair, when we look at the world and can see nothing of God’s goodness. That’s where Faith comes in and we have to exercise it to the best of our abilities so that by our actions we can bring the goodness of God into the world, even if it hurts so, so much. We can't do much: we just do what we can and give our little to God to work His miracles.

Then, one day, we won’t have to worry. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

So what are you going to tell the doom-monger at the door?

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