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The Good News about wasps

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sermon for the eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings. It seems that if you bring bad tidings, then people are just not going to be as impressed with your chiropodist.

Like Gary Larsen’s deer, messengers of God’s Word do seem to have unfortunate birthmarks in the shape of rifle-range targets. It is always the messenger who gets shot, like the prophet Urijah. He upsets the princes of Israel simply by repeating Jeremiah’s prophecy from God. He tries to run away but is found and killed with the sword.

And just what is this bad news which costs Urijah his life and puts Jeremiah’s in peril?

[PAUSE]

If you bring the message back to its basics God is saying, “if you do evil things then horrible things will happen to you. If you turn back to me then those horrible things won’t happen.”

It’s a really simple message and it’s full of good news.
First, the message confirms a basic fact that evil breeds evil. Why is that good news? It means that evil can be limited. In order to stop evil spreading, we have to stop doing evil things. 

Remember, God’s Creation is very good, even if we don’t fully understand it. Evil spreads like cracks in the ice or like a ladder in ladies’ hosiery. We stop evil by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It means working hard to be Holy because He is Holy.

Secondly, the message shows us that God is in complete charge. By creating, He has set the laws of nature so that things can be as they are. Gravity pulls things down. Wasps sting. Plants need water to grow. These are all consequences of the way things have been created. This means if we drop the plate, it will break. If we annoy the wasp, it will sting us. If we do not water Aunt Sally’s prize begonia then Aunt Sally will not be happy when she gets back from Magaluf.

Thirdly, the fact that there is a message at all shows that God cares. A god that creates and then leaves its creation to itself has no use for prophets. A god that just wants its own way done all the time forces its will upon men. The very fact that there are prophets such as Jeremiah and Urijah shows us quite clearly that God cares and that He does not want to force us into obedience.  

To hear anything from God, even words of His displeasure, really is good news for us. It means that God cares, that we matter, and that our lives have meaning, worth and the potential for great things by pleasing God. So why do the messengers of such good news get shot?

[PAUSE]

This is the strange thing. It’s because people prefer darkness to the light. People want complete control over their lives. In many ways God has given us complete control over our lives but, crucially, what people want is to have complete control over their lives without negative consequences. 

They hate  being reminded of that. Indeed, to do away with the consequences of living, people reject God. We see this all around us. People claim the right to live immorally and, in order to do so, either tell God to go away or claim that He says something differently from what He has always said.

To tell people what God actually says risks getting targeted and shot. This is precisely what Our Lord says will happen to all who follow Him and proclaim the Good News.

However, the same Good News tells us that if we lose our lives for Christ's sake, then we will regain them and receive more. 

[PAUSE]

Christians will never win popularity contests. But then, perhaps if we do, we might have lost sight of how Good the News really is.


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