Rev. Rosemary Webb
7th October 2018
We Are Born to Love Not to Judge

I first preached on this passage on this Sunday, Trinity 19, twelve years ago. You are probably wondering what on earth I am going on about, it now seems to be just another Sunday, but then I was standing in this pulpit for the first time preaching as a priest, and indeed also celebrating for the first time. That Sunday was some three weeks before Andrew arrived, I knew I could make enough mistakes just celebrating – there was no one with whom I could discuss if what I was going to preach could upset any one – so I did what was the obvious thing to me – I totally ignored the first twelve verses of the Gospel. On that day the Gospel was just about little children.

At the end of the service one of the people I was worried about offending (someone long since moved away) came and said to me why I had done that because she was so wanting to hear if I could make sense of it for her. A message I have never forgotten.

I think that as in all things God asks us to think before we marry someone, but if that decision is wrong he knows the hurt and anguish which happens, his healing grace will reach out as to all who are suffering and in need of compassion.

So why is the church so hung up on divorce, why does it seem to carry more condemnation than all the other many sins of which we are all guilty? Perhaps because we know if someone is divorced or not, less easy to know if someone has just been jealous, showed hatred, even cruelty to someone. So sadly, for some people, if they are not divorced and others are, that must make the divorced sinners, Really?, what a sad way to think, … might it not just be that those of us who are not divorced have just been luckier.

Even in the world today there are many people being held in slavery, and that includes this area, but somehow parts of the church seem still to have an obsession with divorce and sexuality rather than concentrating on the many other sins where it could get involved, where it could put pressure. And certainly, I think there could be more emphasis on Jesus’ command ‘love one another’ and perhaps even more importantly ‘judge not, lest you also be judged.’ That was Jesus’ command but there are so many people in the church who are still happy to pass judgement on others, although hopefully attitudes are beginning to change.

The author of Hebrews describes a world they didn’t quite live in yet, and he could just as easily be talking to us today. How for some there can be tension between the world we live in and what God says is true. How scriptures tell us that as human beings we are little lower than the angels and yet when we look at our world today that seems very far from the truth. There is far more human anger, greed and bitterness, than angelic love far too little love and obedience to God.

I suppose the question is – will we ever understand what life really means, will we ever be able to explain tragedies like the ones in the Philippines and Indonesia, just how can they happen.

I think we need to remember that whilst we know our Almighty God created the heavens and the earth he gave us freedom of choice. Freedom of choice to damage his creation, to cause pollution, cause climatic change. At times people seem to think that scientists know more than God, and of course there have been wonderful scientific achievements, but do we really know if we know all there is to know about creation. Do we really know that God has no more wonderful mysteries to reveal?

Two thousand years ago it was thought the world was flat, what people will know about creation in two thousand years’ time is, I believe, certainly going to be way beyond our comprehension. They will probably regard us as primitive.

As Christians we know we are part of God’s family, we are his children, and yet we are well aware that we are sinners, we know we are weak, that however good our intentions may be, we fail, and within that fact we also know that God loves us, that we are his children.

When we feel tempted to judge we need to remember that Jesus reached out in love to those who were banned by the Temple, those who various reasons the Pharisees regarded as sinners. Jesus spent his earthly life trying to teach this, but then as now there are people who like the Pharisees think they have got it right.

In the second part of the Gospel reading Jesus is rebuking the disciples for not letting parents bring their little children to him. These parents, whose children didn’t appear to need healing, but who knew that if Jesus would only touch them their souls would be blessed.

Jesus knew that the children had a far greater understanding of God’s love than many adults. They have not been damaged by earthly pressures, they are not full of prejudices. Young children see a joy in creation which most of us have lost, perhaps if adults had kept the inquisitive joy children have the world would have spotted what is happening to the environment before it is nearly too late.

The disciples should have known better than to try keeping little children away from Jesus, for Christ always showed his love for them, as he did and does for all who are weak, all who need his love and support.

And it wasn’t that condescending kind of love which so many people show to children it was a far deeper love, it was a love for that childish innocence which brings children closer to God, it was that innocence which did and still does enable children to truly trust in Jesus and in God the Father.

Children by nature are trusting, naïve at times, and full of curiosity, most do not create problems for the sake of it and have that great enthusiasm for life, which many of us lose as we age. But perhaps one of the greatest virtues they have is that they trust, in a loving, humble way. When they meet people, they meet them just as people they don’t try to judge them, work our what is wrong with them.

And I believe that as adults we can learn from children. We can learn to look on life as an exciting journey not always seeking problems, not looking for the things that go wrong, but looking at all the wonderful gifts people have and how they use them for the good of others. And we must also look at our gifts and use them for the benefit of others. There are so many good things which happen in the world we must look for them and rejoice in them.

We must be like children in the way we serve God. We must trust and obey Him, but more importantly we must love him with all our hearts and rather than judge, we must love all our neighbours as ourselves.

Mark 10: 2-16, Hebrews