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Sermons



Rev. Andrew Cunnington
1st July 2017
A “However” Sort of Person?

The success of a happy home is completed negotiations as to who may choose what is watched on telly.

Now we are down to the two of us at The Vicarage, you would have thought this would have made life simple.

But there is so much cricket on in the evening these days, and after a busy day, what could a wife want more than to settle down to the closing stages of Glamorgan versus Derbyshire in the One Day Cup.

But we have an arrangement. I watch an hour of cricket and then we watch what Alison wants to watch for the rest of the evening. And this has introduced me to the 28 episode saga that goes under the name of “The Great British Menu”.

Yet another bloomin’ cookery programme, but this one really does take the biscuit. (joke!)

Contestants from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, have to make a series of summer dishes – with catchy names usually linked to Wimbledon fortnight and then they are judged one against the other.

It’s the judges I love best. Each one of them are famous chefs and we are meant to be in awe of them.

I’ve never heard of a single one of them. But they are all somewhat arrogant.

So when the nervous contestant chef steps forward with their beautiful creation for them to tuck into the conversation goes a bit like this:

The pan fried fillet of pork is just perfect and the accompanying jus of fig and cauliflower is exquisite. The crunchy aubergine and couscous salad is an absolute joy, and what an array of flavours they give…

However…

The compote of apricot and asparagus wild mushroom rice is completely tasteless my dear and to be honest its presentation reminds me of a dung heap. The home crafted, three times fried game and garlic frites are disastrously overcooked. Disappointing Terry, so disappointing.

It’s riveting stuff!

So I want to ask you… do you ever come across a “however” sort of person. You’ve done a good job of something and people are kind and complimentary, but one person finds fault, and that’s the memory that stays with you, and tarnishes the whole experience.

Or maybe you are a “however” sort of person yourself and will always come away from an experience dwelling on the shortcoming, the bit that fell short, never able to simply say…you know that was great!

However…

There is a battle going on in our readings this morning, especially in the passage from Romans – where the question asked is are you a slave to sin or are you set free to be obedient to Christ?

It prompts me to ask… Have we given up on the grace of God?

Jesus says to play your part in bringing in his kingdom is as simple as offering a cup of cold water to someone in need. We’ve all got taps. We’ve all got a mug or a cup. We are each aware of someone who is thirsty and yet when was the last time we stepped out of line and offered that refreshment.

A refreshment that comes in many small ways that are easily missed, because they do not shout out.

We try to find Jesus in the noise of daily living, in the voices that dominate our minds with their “however” critique.

The Pharisees were classic Great British Menu judges when it came to assessing the impact of Jesus.

How wonderful that you healed that man of his leprosy, that he is now clean and that you forgave him of his sins into the bargain.

However…

According to the law you should never have touched him in the first place, and a healing on the Sabbath is prohibited. You know that and may we remind you that only God himself can forgive sins. We don’t like the taste you are leaving in our mouths.

And the however voices won the day and they handed him over to be crucified.

And the “however” mentality rules in our day too, when we give the final verdict to the dissenting voices in our minds and all around us in the media.

And then we are stuck as slaves to sin – stuck in our own shortcomings and those of others – afraid to step into the place where we will become obedient to Him. Given up on the grace of God.

How can we bring the grace of God back from the outskirts of our lives into the town centre of them.

It’s all down to attending to where Jesus is, and that starts with prayer in the here and now.

Let me take you for an imaginary journey. Come to the top of Reigate Hill where the big car park is and the view is wonderful. Let’s walk awhile on the path in the direction of Dorking. If you come, I’ll buy you an ice cream at the kiosk on the way back.

The first thing you come to are the remains of Reigate fort. A military defence and look out. Whilst we’re taking a look around, the wind starts to blow a gale and all we can hear is the noise of its whistling. We listen out for God amidst all that noise and we can’t find him. We thought we might. We listened out, but he wasn’t there.

We walk along to a beautiful viewpoint, looking down over Reigate and then suddenly there is a tremor beneath our feet, the start of an earthquake and we feel for God amidst that sudden shaking. And he’s not there. He’s not there at all.

We walk through a long avenue of trees and the sun is shining through them as if to set them all ablaze and we think of Jesus as the light of the world and we look for his shadow amidst the brightness. But he’s not there. He’s not there at all.

And we come out into the open hillside just beyond the Inglis Folly, a little pavilion where we can sit awhile ,but we move beyond that and we sit on the open hillside and we agree not to say a single thing, but just sit, and in the sheer silence that follows, that’s when he comes, that’s when he shows us where we should take the cup of cold water sitting on the draining board at home, that’s when we say the word “however” and can’t think of anything to say that’s negative, because the grace of God has it’s hold.

Jesus will not compete with our fierce judgement of ourselves and each other. He will not shout his corner amidst the catcalling of the political arena, to do so would mean he himself would be a slave to sin.

He waits for us to enter the place of sheer silence. Of non judgement. Of openness and positivity and then he will let us know what we should do and how we should do it.

With the cup of cold water as the sacrament we carry.

 
 
ROMANS 6: 12-END
MATTHEW 10: 40-END