This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 22 February 2014
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48 We Are God's Temple
passage from 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 is a continuation of Paul’s
discussion with the church at Corinth, but the focus is now on the necessity of
unity among believers. When Paul refers to the body as a temple, he was
referring to the Corinthian church as a whole, and as the temple of God the
Holy Spirit rested on each and every member.
is a parallel in our lives. We are also God’s temple in that we are to be God’s
agents in our world. In order for us to do that work, we need the power of the
Holy Spirit working in us. When it does, we will have a happy and fulfilling
life provided that we follow God’s instructions. As one small child told his
father, the word Bible stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”
we can build that temple in our lives, we need to build a firm foundation. That
foundation is faith in Jesus. Next, we have to use only good building material.
This material is our testimonies-not only in speaking to others, but also in
how we live our lives. If we build our lives out of the good things we will be
better able to lead others to Christ. Our faith must be built on the solid
foundation of God’s Word. God is our refuge and strength, especially in times
of trouble. He gives us wisdom, especially when we don’t expect to receive it.
His love keeps our hearts alive. God lives in our hearts and minds.
God lives in us, we know who we are. The Holy Spirit gives us a sense of
identity. He will be with us all the time and in every situation. He guides and
comforts us. We belong to him. We know who we are. In order for God to live in
us, we are called to the radical life called discipleship. It is just beyond
our grasp and yet it is powerful enough to pull us away from our earthly,
are called to build a life of faith that is based on the foundation we have in
Jesus Christ. If we do, we will be rewarded with a good life-a life that God
will give us. The benefits of this life will be a church and a world that live
up to the highest purposes. We will also be able to withstand life’s
challenges. If a crisis takes something from us, it can still work for our
salvation. It will show us what is important in our lives. As the old saying
goes, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.
foundation of the temple is to be united. Christ is not to be divided, and
neither is his church. The foundation is not built around individual leaders. We
need to work together. After all, if we can’t get along with each other, how
can we draw people to Christ? We need to build bridges so we can preach the
Gospel not only with our words but with our deeds. We need to build bridges
within our own culture and community. We need to work together and use our
individual gifts to build up the church. We must use God’s gifts, but not hoard
them. We are to embrace them and share them. When we work together, we can hold
each other accountable for our actions, and we can also work miracles. Human
wisdom is foolish because it divides the church. God’s wisdom unites the
church’s foundation. If we follow God’s wisdom, we will be foolish in the eyes
of the world, but we will be wise in the eyes of God.
building of God’s temple within ourselves is an ongoing process. God is the
builder. As part of the process, we must remember that we are still children of
God. We have to do our part in the building process by doing things such as
praying and attending Bible study and worship. We also need to work with other
members of the body of Christ. We can’t do it alone. We must also continue
making moral and ethical decisions in light of our Christian faith. These
decisions can never be separated from our spiritual life. We need to keep on
doing what is right even though we are still “under construction.” We need to
look forward to the experiences and full life that God will give us.
Holy Spirit can’t enter us unless we see ourselves as sinners and God as a God
who saves. He wants people who say “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner” and who
believe that He is merciful because of Christ’s death and resurrection. God
needs people who know that they need him and who are willing to share him.
God’s house of faith is built when we follow God’s plan by serving others.
cornerstone of the foundation that is God’s temple within us is the Apostle’s
Creed. We can stand behind the beliefs it states because on the road of life
there is a need to know that our sins are forgiven, to have our faith affirmed
and to bury our deceased loved ones in the sure and certain hope that we will
rise to be with Christ in another world.
God’s temple is built within us, boundaries between neighbours and
non-neighbours are removed. There are no limits on those we are to love. For
example, a small rural church with an average attendance of only thirty people
received a visitor one Sunday-a mother with a young child. The child had
special needs that required round-the-clock medical care. At first some of the
members were upset by the depth of this family’s need. Others found the
situation disruptive to their worship experience.
church members were trained to help care for the child. The mother was grateful
for the help and could run errands or get some much needed rest. The few
children in the church would talk to the mother and child. The men made the
family’s home more accessible. The caring congregation changed the mother’s
life, and the acts of kindness also changed the congregation. Worship
attendance began to increase, the spirit of the congregation became more
positive, and soon other families with young children began attending that
church. Congregations that learn to treat others with the love of Christ
attract people who are searching for a genuine sense of community.
is a good lesson for all of us who attend this church to learn. For example, I
recently spoke to one person who used to attend the 8:00 AM Service on Sunday
morning before it was stopped last fall. This person is looking forward to the
resumption of the 8:00 AM service next month because this particular person is
bothered when the children’s talk at our 11:00 AM service is too long! To me,
this clearly states that we as a church have more work to do to build the
temple of God within each one of us.
church in Corinth lost its first love—love for Jesus. They kept up their
spiritual activities, but the key ingredient of love was missing. They were
consumed by loyalty to different leaders. The same problem exists in churches
today. Many members are so obsessed with rules, committees, programs and personal
agendas that they do not serve Christ in love. As a result, they have lost
their mission and vision-to show God’s love to people in a hurting, sin-filled
world. Instead, we are to celebrate a unity beyond uniformity and a diversity
doesn’t call on us to manufacture love for someone we don’t like or may even
hate. Instead, we are to do good for a person, even if that person is our
enemy. We are also to do more than what is required by law or tradition. We are
to “go the extra mile”. We are to treat everyone equally. This standard is not
easy to live up to, and when we fail to live up to it, we must fall back on
God’s grace. We are not called on to be perfect or holy like God is. We are
called on to imitate God’s love and reject the world’s ways and standards of
living. God loves everyone-the good and the bad, sinners, the poor and so
on-and so should we. The readings for today remind us that we have work to do
in our relationships with our fellow human beings before we can truly prepare
ourselves for worship. We are called by Christ to be better than we are because
we have fallen short of what we can be because of our sinful, human nature.
Sometimes he asks us to do the impossible, but when he does, he makes the
are to do more than what is required by law or traditions or everyone else. We
must share with the world more than what the others share. We must show more
compassion for the needy than others do. We need to be more committed to the
causes of peace and justice than others are. These are not requirements that we
have to find the will to meet. They are the desires we have to fulfill that
come from God’s love. That love comes from surrendering our lives to God.
key to God’s temple is our faith. It keeps us close to God because the Holy
Spirit will live in us just like God lived in the temple in ancient Israel. The
Holy Spirit assures us that in our relationship with Jesus we can do what he
did and now tells us to do-be generous to the needy, do not retaliate when hurt
or offended, pray for those who persecute us and forgive our enemies. The only
way we can do this is by making sure that God’s temple within us is filled with
love, especially the love Christ showed here on earth.