Weekly sermon thoughts for everyday discipleship based on two RCL lectionary readings
Sermon thoughts for everyday discipleship
by John Watson
Sunday 14 July 2013
Colossians 1:1-14 and Luke 10:25-37
We start a series looking at Colossians over the next four weeks with the Gospel of Luke bringing it’s own emphasis.
Luke brings us to the heart of the Gospel. The law and all its commandments are summed up in this simple, unique and encompassing love. Jesus responds to the lawyers natural ability to probe and delve into definitions - who is my neighbour? by offering a simple set of comparisons rather than a complex theory. And by offering these comparisons in the actions of the characters - the redefinition is reached. Our neighbour is not who you find yourself next to - but, as Gustavo Gutierrez said ‘the one whom you place yourself amongst’. This redefinition of neighbour is radical in its implications for not just the lawyer but for us now who read it - for the church in its thinking through mission and how/who it relates to. It actually demands the Church to reach out, to take itself out of what is known and place itself into what maybe unknown. It is call to become vulnerable and willing to encounter people who will challenge what you know. The ability to love and show mercy is therefore not dictated by what is close and known but by those who are in need and suffering - at home or elsewhere. But the emphasis remains we have to go out of our way and embrace those in need - we cannot settle for anything less.
Paul opens his letter to the Colossian church by emphasizing their great gift they have received, the hope that will change everything - ethics, relationships, ambitions, the world! This hope is bearing fruit everywhere a hope that produces change in individuals and society. The hope rests in us like a seed - bringing change and fruit as it grows. How do let that seed grow in us? Do we water it, feed it?
Paul picks up again a common dual phrase - God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of Jesus. This transfer demands a change - a change in allegiance and change in who we are and who we become. There is also a warning that by changing your allegiance there is a possibility that suffering may come.
John is the Vicar of St Paul’s, Tupsley and St Andrews, Hampton Bishop in Hereford Diocese. He’s also currently doing Doctoral Studies at Kings College London.