Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings service. The message today comes from Rev Christine Fox, and this service will be the first that will also be being live streamed at Church. We will be gathering on Zoom after the service at 10:45, contact Jessica for the details if you haven't received them.
Today's service was put together by Andrew Hudson.
Click below on the red play button to start the video. You can also find the service on YouTube here if it isn’t working on the blog.
God Bless x
Message - Rev Christine Fox
If I throw a tomato against a wall what do you expect to come out of it? – of course what’s inside will come out – tomato juice and pips! If you are ‘hard-pressed’ or ’up against the wall’ what comes out of you – out of your mouth!? I won’t ask you to share that with us! We all know that if there’s stuff going on inside us, when things are okay in life we can hold it in – adults are maybe ‘better’ at this than kids. Someone said that adults are just as naughty as kids but they’ve learned how to cover it up! But when things get tough in our lives we get less good at covering up what’s inside, and out it all comes. And if it’s not good stuff then it messes everything around us up – people get hurt - maybe shouted at or criticised; sometimes things get damaged. And it’s really embarrassing too.
Today we heard a bit of Psalm 119 – it’s the longest Psalm so we only ever read a bit – and this part is written by someone who really wants to sort themselves out deep inside. They speak words direct to God that show they see that knowing God will help them be filled with good things inside– words like ‘give me understanding of your law so I may obey it with all my heart’, ‘in your commands I find delight’, and ‘how I long for your teachings’. If this psalm writer kept up such a close relationship with God then, when they came up against difficult situations, what came out of their mouths would be much more likely to be positive. They would be the kind of person who can diffuse an argument between people, or speak words of peace even to someone who is attacking them.
When we hear Jesus’ commands in Matthew’s gospel about dealing with people who are hurting you or others, then I know I would find it more likely to work out well if I approached them when I was at one with God, and at peace with myself. Because it’s actually just as hard telling someone, if they’ve hurt you, as going to them and admitting you’re wrong if you’ve hurt them. We can think we should put up with it or maybe it was our fault they did or said it to us. But Jesus knew that sin spoils relationship – and his mission was to restore relationship, so he gives simple practical advice. Don’t leave it, sort it! Some versions of his words say ‘if someone sins, go and tell them their fault, others ‘if someone sins against you’ – both are equally valid – but dealing with sins against you are directly about restoring relationship.
As the measures to reduce deaths from Covid-19 seem to go on and on, some people who were at first pleased at any acts of kindness, or provision of worship resources, or even measures to protect against harm, are now beginning to get critical. And we might say that’s normal. But as followers of Jesus we aren’t called to be normal. We have his example of going early in the mornings to just be with his Father – to pray in his presence and to long with all his heart to understand his Father’s ways and delight in him. Some of you will have discovered this secret of Jesus’ integrity; never did anything come out in his words or an action that wasn’t good through and through. And he wanted that for his disciples too; rather than dwelling on things inside that will only burst out at the worst time he demonstrates the building of relationship with God that the psalmist sought after.
To deal with another person who is hurting someone, in the context of the group of believers, in a way that is respectful – just between the two of you, but taking it seriously enough to take it to just a couple of others if needed – this is rooted in love and respect for relationship.
Jesus could even say that when in such a relationship with God and each other, he could trust his followers to make decisions as he would make them, both in keeping discipline, and even in knowing what to pray for that would be in line with God’s will.
All these instructions of Jesus follow his surprising observations that little children are the model for eligibility for his kingdom. Perhaps that’s because with children what you see is what you get – and kids want nothing more than to stay in good relationship with everyone, to love and to know that they are loved.
So the good news is that God desires us to be in close relationship with him, and just as Jesus said and showed - that relationship is evidenced by the way we keep working at good relationship with each other. As we persevere together through difficult times let them be times of building relationship in the strength that comes from keeping close to our loving Father God. Amen