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Where there's hope, there's life

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sermon for the ninth Sunday after Trinity

One of the most enduring images that we see is that of the little African child with protruding ribs and distended belly staring out into our eyes in an appeal for relief from the most recent drought. Of course, we are called to feed the hungry and water the thirsty, and so we give what we can to the aid agencies trusting that they will supply those in need with food and drink.

But what do we do in our own drought?

[PAUSE]

There have been some scary news stories about water shortages with reporters walking about in dried-up reservoirs. We are being alerted to changes in weather patterns all over the world. Clearly, we should be concerned with the stewardship of the Earth that God has given to us. What do we do when it is God who calls the drought deliberately?

We see the prophet Elijah obey God. We see him call King Ahab to account by pronouncing God’s drought on the land. We see how no rain or dew falls to water the earth, and we see Elijah leave Ahab to stew in his own predicament.

Sometimes, God has to withhold His gifts from us to remind us Who He is. He does this, not out of petty vindictiveness, nor from an insecurity which demands worship. He does this because we have a need for God that we don’t often recognise. He does this to give us the opportunity to turn back to Him where we find true health, true joy and true peace.

We have to recognise periods of drought for what they are – time to reconsider our relationship with God.

[PAUSE]

While we are facing a change in our climate, we are also facing a greater drought in the West. We are watching our civilisation struggle because it has been distracted from God. We are in the midst of a spiritual drought as people fall away from God into their own desires. We see people deny God because of the pain and suffering in the world, or because they want to be ruled only by themselves. We see cathedrals sell out and fill themselves with amusements and entertainments to draw people in, but do nothing to deal with the intense spiritual drought in their souls.

This sounds scary, and it is. Are you frightened by the future? Are you scared about the possible death of the planet? Are you worried about our country becoming so spiritually dead that it become as evil a state as Ahab’s Israel or Hitler’s Germany?

[PAUSE]

There is ALWAYS hope. We must never forget that. The prophet Elijah shows how the Heavens and the Earth could pass away but the Word of the Lord will endure for ever. And the Word of the Lord is Love. And God loves you. This is why you exist: to love and to be loved.

Look how, in the midst of the drought, Elijah produces food and water to sustain a faithful family. Look how, through the power of God, he restores a child to life. Look how Elijah does things that will be done a few centuries later by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Look how Elijah himself will meet Our Lord in in the Transfiguration.

Blessed be the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

[PAUSE]

Western Civilisation seems to have fallen into a spiritual drought. It seems to have lost the basis of its civilisation. It seems to have lost Christianity. Thus, like Ahab’s Israel, it must suffer the consequences of separation from God. Yet, there is an Elijah who will preach God to the world and to those who are willing to receive it. This Elijah is the Church. This Elijah is you.

God gives His grace to the faithful to spread and multiply throughout the world. If we are careful stewards of His grace then we can bless this planet and our stewardship of it. We can bring hope to others through reminding them of the Word which will never pass away.

Yes, the future can look dark sometimes, but God is here with us. Though thousands may languish and fall beside us and ten thousand around us perish, we are being saved by God. We may be in a drought, but God brings water from rocks and living water wells up within all who drink from Christ. And we, God’s Church can bring that water to all who want it. We MUST bring that water to all who want it.

God will neither forget the African child nor the spiritually poor. Where there is hope, there is life!

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