Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Living Under the Rainbow - sermon for 12 March

Isaiah 65: 17-25; Luke 13: 1-9 

Today’s gospel records a conversation that has been repeated time and again in every generation – bad stuff happens; does it mean I did something bad? Why does bad stuff happen to good people? And for that matter, why does good stuff happen to bad people.

Time and again we witness events; situations and are drawn to ask, Why?
Hundreds of years earlier the prophet Isaiah was blessed with a vision of the world not as it is, but how it could be. Where all is equal; where the work of our hands is to our benefit and not someone else’s; where life is long and trouble free; where peace reigns and justice is given to everyone.
It is a vision of the New Jerusalem – heaven if you like.
But. And here’s the thing.
That vision of hope and renewal is not merely a cloud vision of a possibility in some distant land; nor is it to be left to heaven only, but is to be strived for here and now in this world – it is for us to work for justice; it is for us to strive for peace; it is for us to speak out and work for those who have no voice helping in whichever way we can.
Throughout scripture we are confronted by God’s repeated call to act justly. The continuing poverty of millions in a world of plenty, the gross inequalities in the way we conduct trade are affronts to his goodness and justice. They demand a response from us.
Traidcraft was founded as a Christian response to poverty. As one of the pioneers of fair trade in the UK we rely heavily on the support of God’s people who buy our products, who give to our charity, and who campaign with us for trade justice and a world freed from the scandal of poverty.
Christ calls us to fairness and justice in many, different ways. Some ways are easy and require little effort or personal sacrifice, but others are difficult and will mean us having to change what we buy and where we shop, and to go without ourselves.
Some ways will bring us praise from those around us and win us admiration, but others may bring criticism and make us unpopular, when we raise our voice for the voiceless, when we call for justice for the poor.
Some ways we will find interesting and absorbing and will play to our natural strengths, but others we will find tedious and a chore.
In some of these ways we may please both Christ and ourselves; in other ways, we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet we know that we have the power to be able to act in all these ways because Christ inspires and strengthens us, and because we know that he has no hands or feet on earth but ours. If justice is to be done, it is we who are called to do it.

There is no assurance that it will be easy; there was no promise in a vision that has come from God of a life of ease; but it will be worth it.
Jesus had a strong and radical message; but it was not all doom and gloom, he was full of compassion and sought to shake those who were complacent and to encourage those who were excluded. The parable of the fig tree reminds us that there is always another chance; always time to change, to turn, to start over.
There is always time to try again – be nourished, fed by the Spirit and bear fruit.
God destroyed the world in a great flood; and afterwards promised that the rainbow would endure to remind us that God would never do that again; that humanity was given another chance to start over.
We live under the promise of the rainbow; we can choose to help others, give them a second chance, or we can choose to ignore and look out only for ourselves.
But if we choose that way, the warning is stark – Jesus said, “if you do not turn from your sins, you will die.”

It is not our place to judge each other; but it is our place to do our best to help; to work together; to bring about justice for the oppressed
We are rainbow people

It is up to us
Under the Rainbow Kite

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