In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, may my words reflect your glory, Lord our rock and our redeemer,
I am honoured to be able to preach today as a licensed reader in the Church of England. My Licensing service was yesterday and it was an incredible powerful and fulfilling moment for me to be licensed to serve here and to preach and lead here.
Now I want you all to think of a time in your life where you thought something was going to be really important and you got to the event and it was something else that was really touching. For me this was yesterday, I thought that declaring my calling would be the most inspiring moment of the service but the heart of the service for me was being prayed for and given a Bible to go out with.
I never thought that would move me as much as it did, living in a vicarage there is normally a Bible somewhere close by! For me, I wasn’t as moved by declaring my own calling but being equipped, as we all are, to live out our faith.
Here I think this rich man comes to Jesus seeking comfort, he wants Jesus to reply follow the Bible and heaven will be waiting with gates flung open. Of course Jesus digs deeper, re focuses this man’s mind on what he thought was important to what was really important. He is so focused on gaining eternal life he misses his calling on earth to enrich and support the lives of the people around him.
It’s also important to see this from the rich man’s perspective as well, a crowd will have been with Jesus when he asked this and he left the conversation grieving and deeply troubled. What he has missed is that he has been equipped by Jesus to carry out the ministry of God’s church, he doesn’t feel it but his perspective has been reshaped in a way to support others and he has been sent away to act on the word.
It’s also easy to focus on the literal side of this story which I think is important to explore but I also think there is an important metaphor Jesus is putting across here. The rich man’s focus is on his earthly possessions and doing the just doing the bare minimum which isn’t enough for Jesus. We are pushed and called to discern and reflect God’s kindness, humility and peace on earth, to give up our earthly focus that burdens us and to raise our eyes, realise our burden and be guided by God.
I think this is where the Old Testament reading, set for today from Amos, fits into the message today and I just want to really draw upon one line,
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live and so the Lord, the God of Hosts will be with you”
Actually if we shift our focus to freely giving and working in God’s kingdom then we seek good not evil, and God is with us.
But seeking isn’t a passive thing it takes action and a change in mind-set from us, to be Christian’s “Little Christs” and being a light for others.
When we seek ‘good’ we also remember this is the Old Testament version of good, if I said yeah my licensing was good you might be a little disappointed that I wasn’t very enthusiastic. Jesus however says “No one is good but God alone” and Mark starts off his gospel with “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the messiah”. It’s so important he missed out Christmas!
When we are searching for good that means finding God in moments of joy, peace, and happiness, and also finding God in places of grief, hardship and unknown.
God is not limited to joy and happiness but where there is no earthly good God’s goodness is still a comfort and a shining light out. So when things change and time marches on remember God is still here, seek her and reflect on your own perspective and where we become too focused on the earthly and not on the mission and our own calling.