Creating relevance

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Reverend Rob Lamerton
17 October 2004, Pentecost 20

Sermon notes

Comments by the Dean of Sydney this week have stirred discussion. He has reportedly referred to Prince Charles as an adulterer — which by all reports appears to be accurate.

He has also said that the Archbishop of Canterbury is Prostituting the Ministry of the Church by publicly toeing the line on the ordination of gay clergy, but behind the scenes allowing such ordinations to go ahead.

He has every right to express an opinion BUT is it helpful?

I hope he had the decency to speak privately to the people concerned and in a pastoral and caring way attempt to put his view. Somehow I doubt it! And I wonder how helpful such comments are when picked up by the media and reported.

When talking about this on Friday someone said: "It is amazing that the church continues to exist — in spite of our best efforts."

Meaning — it seems we are bent on the destruction of the church AND YET!!! the church continues on in its various forms.

Having said that, we come to the gospel where we find the emphasis on prayer.

The story about persistence in prayer comes at a time when the disciples were nearing the end of the journey with Jesus.

The woman — a widow — is dispossessed and powerless.
She manages to get justice from a judge who neither "feared God nor had respect for people".

How much more will God grant justice!

Then we have a story about two men

a Pharisee
a Tax collector

The Pharisee goes to God with all his credentials.

The Tax collector knows that before God he has nothing — the only achievements he has are that he is a sinner —
he has nothing,
he is totally dependent on God's mercy.

Three elements as we look to the future:

  1. Take responsibility for our own generation and relationship with God. — Hope
  2. Study the scriptures — read and absorb.

To that end we will be beginning in the next few weeks a process which leads up to Lent next year when we will look at what sort of vision and direction we might have as the people of God in this place.

So it is important that we consider who we will nominate for wardens and parish councillors next week.

The readings offer some clues about our relationship with God.

Jeremiah declares a new era where people cannot blame their forebears, but will take responsibility for themselves.
v.24 In those days they shall no longer say "The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." instead "the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge."

He is saying do not blame former generations and say woe is us — instead take responsibility for your own relationship with God and (I'm sure) for those around you. — When you do, there is HOPE!

and Jeremiah sees that in taking responsibility for their own generation, they will be establishing a new covenant with God. (v.33)

Paul in writing to Timothy is emphasizing the need, as he hands on his authority, to study the sacred writings, to read the scriptures — what does this mean?

No New Testament

But the Old Testament, plus the new texts which must have been appearing.

The same outlook is emphasized in our own ordination service.

So as we look to the future, we must also remember where we have come from and what guides us — the Word of God in Scripture.

and as our Synod rep, Devin points out, we continue to negotiate and discuss the issues of cooperation and unity with a wide range of churches. The future of faith seems certain — BUT the future of the church as we know it is fare less certain —

It is happening in Australia too, but this week we heard from John in Birmingham where they had the initial meeting of a new congregation in a pub.

I'm not sure where Philip Jensen's comments fit in all of this or if they have a place at all — they might even point to an increasing irrelevance of statements by highly placed Anglican clerics.

Instead we, I believe, have to discover, even create, (with God), our relevance…

Pray not with all the baggage of the Pharisee, BUT with the emptiness and openness —the trust— of the [tax collector] [sinner]…