Fulcrum sermon thoughts for 12th January 2014


Sunday 12th January 2014

Isaiah 42:1-9 and Matthew 3:13-end

‘Might is right’ or the myth of redemptive violence, is often portrayed as the only way peace can be established. We see the narrative of the world and look aghast at how quickly might and violence is used to either ‘defend the good and defeat evil’ or bring peace. Yet to bring a lasting peace a deeper sense of justice and much deeper work needs to happen to us and to the issues that cause the violence and evil in the first place.

 The words in Isaiah evoke a fresh way of seeing things. Israel has been self-preoccupied and its own identity has been self referential. “We are in a bleak place” “We can do nothing” “We are worthless”.  This all changes in the words that God speaks. This self-absorption needs to change as the promises of a work and life are offered. Where people snuff our wicks and break bruised reeds - Israel is not to be like that. It is to live the vulnerable prophetic life that offers change and difference in a hostile world. They can only do that if their sense of identity is taken from outside of their existence. If they ‘de-centre’ themselves - they become centered on God.

 They are to stand out like beacons of light in a dark place. They are called (v.6a) taken (v.6a), kept (v.6a) and given (v7b) - God has redefined who they are so they can redefine the world around them.

 The baptism of Jesus, and in turn reflection on our own baptism, is a similar missional summons. Here Jesus identity as the Son is confirmed. Here the call is given to be the Son. Here he is taken and kept in the Father’s love. Here he is given to the world. This will all be tested in the following verses where the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. This assurance of being called, taken and kept and given will be scrutinized and challenged by the devil.

 Our own call to be given to the world, to be a blessing for it, to live a life that speaks of another way will be tested. For those sisters and brothers in Syria and Egypt, to be called and given in an environment where persecution and death are a reality, to know they are kept in the Father love’s and taken by the hand gives that courage which we in the West can only begin to imagine.

 The sense of identity and therefore security is not rooted in the environment in which we find ourselves. It is in the love and call of God. Baptism is a de-centering of who we are and a centering on God. It is a missional sacrament that launches us on a journey of discovery and life.

 Who or what is the centre on your life? “In baptism God calls us to new life. We die with Christ to all that destroys, and rise to live with him for ever” (Text from the experimental alternative service of baptism in the Church of England).

2 thoughts on “Fulcrum sermon thoughts for 12th January 2014”

  1. Actually I need to clarify something on the previous post I said that God does not expect us to go solo! This is true as we see from Adam and Eve and I will send you a helper and from Gods reassurances that he is always with us, BUT It is also true that God almost always reveals himself to us in” isolation” now that may not mean that we are alone but that we are the only person who hears the specific message God gives us in the way we hear it! This of course being different to the psychotic out of body experience, although again having said that many things have been revealed to people who were labelled at the time as “mad” and sometime down the line they were vindicated. Ie what humans see as mad God sees as the greater plan Mandella is a good example of that!

  2. Now here is the thing for me! I read the bible passage first, and I interpreted in a completely different way to John. although there are some ways in which we interpret it the same. My first initial thought was that God was affirming the one whom he had called, the second thing that occurred to me was that God knew that he was asking a lot humanly from the person he had called , this was confirmed in his statement “I will take your hand” Gods instruction to the person he called was that “he was not to be heard above the crowd” It is a real challenge for those who are called , and sometimes ordained, not to be heard above the crowd, because it would seem that how will people hear if they are not. But of course it is a reference to putting the Gospel before the preacher, sometimes interpretation can get in the way. Of course these verses also make it clear that God does not expect the person called to do it in their own strength or capacity, though he does back it up with the reassurance that they have been called and are worthy of that calling. John has sort of said similar in his paragraph about the redefinition. In terms of redefinition it is about how God redefines us and not how we redefine God. You know all those quotes about old and new wine skins and leopards and spots or trained and untrained .Sometimes it seems like the word of God is manipulated in redefinition to fulfil a personalized agenda sometimes to a corporate end. I find it very hard sometime as I am sure some of you do? I listen to the word from a pulpit and I think am I hearing the preacher or God ? It is important to me, it affects the way I respond or don’t respond as the case might be. In reading this passage I envisaged Isaiah listening to God thinking is it real and does he mean me, then I envisage God saying to him yes it is you, then I envisage Isaiah wondering how he was going to be able to fulfil that which he was called to do and God reassures him. All the time God acknowledged how difficult the calling was at no time does God indicate that it was a solo mission. Thankyou for the sermon thoughts again John I much appreciate them.

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