Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sermon for the Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

The Resurrection- The Angels rolling away the stone from the Sepulchre

William Blake

Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Jesus tells us this to reassure us that in God there is no death.
There is death in the physical sense, but death is not the end.
It is a stage of the journey.
A very significant stage indeed, but it is just stage, a step on a journey.

Death is quite scary.
It is a bit of a mystery.
It scares us because we can’t really know what lies beyond.
However, we can believe that there is something that lies beyond.

The reading from the book of Job tells us:
“and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
            then in my flesh I shall see God.”
Jesus tells us numerous times about what happens,
most explicitly in the gospel of John:
 ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord.
‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ 

‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live
Death is not end.

But it is the next phrase that speaks to me:
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die

"everyone who lives in me."

What is living in Christ?
What does that entail?

Life in Christ is about being in the present.
It is about present to who we are, who we are with, what we are doing.
It is not about how or why or where or when.
It is about now.

It is about being truly present to the present.
It is about being present to the presence of God.
It is about being present.

Being present is hard work.
It is impossible to be present all the time.
We need to reflect on what we have been and done to learn from then.
We need to plan our future and put events and happenings into our calendars to keep on top of things.

But the problem is that often all we end up doing is reflecting and planning.
We don’t let the present moment exist,
because it is either being taken up with what was or what is hoped to be.

But there are moments and times in life where we need to present.
When we are listening to a friend.
Being present means listening.
Being present means being with them.
It means being with them in their story, pain or difficulty.
It means listening and feeling, not thinking or fixing.

We need to be present to ourselves.

We need to be present to God in our lives.

Psalm 46 tells us:
“Be still and know that I am God”

How we interpret still is going to be different for all of us,
but we can all agree it is the opposite of race around.
It is opposite of our minds racing around in all directions at once.

Be still in your mind.
Be still in your heart.
Let the sting of the past and the anxiety of the future exist,
and be still in the middle of them.
In that stillness, in that present, it is possible to know God.

That is living in Christ.
It is about being present, being still, and allowing ourselves be in the midst of difficulty.

God is God of the living, not the dead.
Living is about now, not then.
When you receive communion “Keep you in eternal life” not “help you to get to”, or “remember you were” but keep you in.

So, as in death.

One of the great factors in fearing death is that we may not have lived our lives.

There is regret that we may not have done as much as we would have liked,
or have achieved as much as we would have hoped.
There is an intense longing for the past,
a past that did not maybe have as much in it as we would like.
There is regret because we feel we haven’t lived.
There is worry because there is something missing.
There is fear about losing something that was never found.

Richard Rohr puts it this way:
“Something in me says ‘I haven’t done ‘it’ yet.
I haven’t touched the real, the good, the true, the beautiful,
which is of course what we are created for”

The danger is that we have not been present.
Not been present to God, or present at all.

Richard Rohr again:
“Its heaven all the way to heaven and its hell all the way to hell.”
Not later, but now. Not then, but now.

If we don’t believe in life now, how can we believe in life after?

This is why I would like to start a contemplative prayer group.
I believe it is through contemplation that we can truly experience the present.
I believe that it is through contemplation that we can be learn to be present.
To ourselves, to each other, to God.

To be truly present means to be truly vulnerable, to be truly honest.
It means being where we are, whether it is pleasant or awful.
It means being in the middle of both.

God is God of the living.

This is a reassurance that our physical life is just one stage, that we don’t die.

Those who live in me, Jesus says, will never die.

This is a reassurance and a warning: living is now, and we are to live in Christ.
That is to be present.

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