Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!


Trinity 9
July 28, 2013, 11:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A sermon preached at All Hallows, Easton, Sunday July 28th, 2013

Last Sunday we heard how our Lord told busy Martha that her sister Mary, who simply sat and listened to him, had chosen the one thing that is necessary in life. This week, listening to the Lord ourselves, let us take this idea a little further.

Let’s start with the Epistle. Paul is writing to Christians in the town of Colossae, a place he had not directly evangelised, but had sent missionaries to. He writes, “Brothers and sisters, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” He means, they have accepted Jesus as Messiah and Lord; that is the first step. But one step is not enough! They must go on walking in the same way. They must be “rooted” in Jesus, “built up” on him. The pictures he conjures up are significant. Christians are like plants, with Jesus as the soil they grow in. They are like buildings- temples- with Jesus as their foundation. But the plant must grow! The building must rise up!

Here is something we must all, as Christians, ask ourselves. Are we truly growing? Are we building our lives into a Temple for God? Is Jesus really the soil in which we are planted, the foundation on which we build? Or is it just lip-service when we say, “Jesus is our Lord”?

St Luke tells us that Jesus was once praying, and one of his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. He taught them the Lord’s Prayer (Luke gives us a shortened version). If we want to be rooted in Jesus, we must learn to pray as he did. Luke in particular shows us Jesus as a man of prayer. Time and again he refers to Jesus praying. And how did he pray? First and foremost by invoking the relationship between himself and God: as son to Father.

We too must base our prayer on the recognition of ourselves as children of a loving Father. What an odd child it would be, that never spoke to its parents! Every parent knows that, especially when they are very young, it is hard to stop children talking! Daddy this, Mummy that. Look at this! Why is that? It is a constant dialogue. Is our prayer like that? Are we constantly talking to our heavenly Father? Ideally, prayer is a constant interior dialogue with God.

When children grow older, as sulky teenagers, they often go through a stage of not wanting to talk to their parents, apparently resenting every enquiry into their private lives. Frustrating though this is for parents, it is natural and we hope they will grow out of it. But are we perhaps at the same stage, spiritually, in our relationship with God? Not wanting to talk, not wanting to open up to his concern for us? If so, it is a sign of spiritual immaturity. We need to grow into a more mature relationship. But as we acquire the wisdom of experience, we must not lose the simplicity of our childhood.

As we grow up, our parents should be seen more and more as friends. As human beings, we are fundamentally equal. That is, of course, never true about our relationship with God. But in coming among us as a human being, as Jesus, God the Almighty Creator has (so to speak) put himself on a level with us, so that we can relate to him not only as Father, but as Friend and Brother. In another phrase of St Paul, we are able to “put on Jesus”, clothe ourselves in his personality, and so relate as we should both to God and to one another.

In our prayer, we talk not only to the eternal Father, but to Jesus our Teacher and Friend. Our inner dialogue is with him. This makes it easier for us, because we can have a clearer mental picture of Jesus, than of the “Almighty and Eternal God.” By faith, we affirm that Jesus is God; but God who makes himself accessible to us, who stands alongside us and shows us by his own example how to live.

Sacred Heart IconOur Lord has given us important lessons over the last few Sundays. Two weeks ago, in the Gospel, he reminded us that the whole Law of God is summed up in loving God with all our hearts, and our neighbours as ourselves. Last week, he said that the one necessary thing in life is to listen attentively to him, like Mary. Now he teaches us to pray confidently, as a small child talks to its Father.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light-bulb? Only one, but the light-bulb must really want to change. How many Saviours does it take to change the human heart? Only One, but the heart must really want to change. Ask our Lord to make our hearts grow more like his Heart.

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