Fulcrum sermon thoughts for 26th January 2014


Sunday 26th January 2014

Isaiah 9:1-4 and Matthew 4:12-23

God often works outside of our own expectations. He is much greater than our own grasp of reality. So often we equate God working within our own understanding and our own framework and when he does not and works outside of what we know - we become suspicious or even fearful.

In Isaiah we see the reference to the “day of Midian” (9.4) when Gideon won a totally unexpected victory against the oppressive forces of his day the Midianites (see Judges 6:2-6). God acted through the unexpected then and he can do it again. The reference to military force should not stop us seeing this truth, where for us Jesus calls us to be peacemakers not war mongers. God can and does work through the unexpected and has done through historical events, times and places and people. The darkness in V2 will be overcome by light and rather than the nation being overwhelmed by oppression and violence, they will be overwhelmed with joy. God will take away the rod of oppression.

These words speak into very live situations in our own world as we read of South Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic. How far can these readings be a source of strength and change to the Church in these parts of our world? Where do these words apply to our own contexts.

 In our own lives we need to always expect the unexpected. This is the way God works. So we must be careful in how we judge and how we react to the things we do not expect or even wish to happen.

Matthew includes the opening verses of this passage in Isaiah in his description of the troubling times after his own baptism. After his wilderness experience Jesus hears of John’s arrest and retires to the region laced with prophetic hope. Waiting for the unexpected to happen is part of the journey of faith. The four disciples encountered the unexpected - hearing the call of Jesus to follow him.

This following the unexpected leads to life changing episodes. Reacting to the unexpected call of Jesus for the disciples will plunge them into a faith adventure where they see encounter the ways of God never seen before. Their minds and lives will change radically. Their experiences of faith will utterly reshape them that they in turn will begin to reshape the world around them. This does of course lead to suffering and even death as their journey - which began in the unlooked for and unexpected - travels its course..

 How open are you to the God who surprises and still moves in unexpected ways?

1 thought on “Fulcrum sermon thoughts for 26th January 2014”

  1. Thank you again John for your sermon thoughts .My immediate thought was (well I understood the words but can I control the reaction to the unexpected!)? This was followed by the juxtaposition of “faith” expect the unexpected or “expect great things” and a question. Globally locally and personally we have experience of the outworking of Gods spirit, we see and recognise the light in the darkness , and sometimes it is precisely because it is unexpected that it is the light, expectation in itself can bring disappointment, and yet faith and expectation are needed for hope.? But in this instance this sermon thought bought about a much bigger question, that most of us face at some point and some face it regularly that is why does reshaping, and expecting the unexpected always have to mean loss. This also leads to the a conflict in the issue of humility. This is all very deep and complex but then the gospel is a complex business, the unexpected then becomes “understanding” with understanding one can accept most things with humility, humility in turn is what gives us peace. So I guess the challenge is how do we encourage people to believe that it is a journey worth making. I believe it is a journey worth making but it does not mean I can always manage it or deal with it as I would like, faith is not predictable and hopes are not always fulfilled all the time, but the promise remains the same that through all of it there will always be a light in the darkness, light is the parallel to revelation, it is revealed to us at any given time or as you have phrased it john “the unlooked for unexpected”. “Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine” !!

Leave a comment