Friday, 20 April 2012

Living Discipleship

Sermon preached by the Revd Phill Ball, Sunday 15th April 2012
Our topic this week in the Discipleship series is SHARING. Or rather in Discipleship the issue of loving and sharing!
With all that Jesus did for us, and shared with us all, over his ministry, in his teaching and emphasised over this Easter season; let us all consider sharing in our risen discipleship lives.
Now to pinch a phrase from Michelle of the French Resistance in Allo Allo, Listen very carefully I shall say this only once!

If we need an example of loving and sharing, once again we only have to look to God, and to the example of Jesus his son.

God shared his whole creation with us, and shared what it was to be truly human, by coming to live as one of us, in Jesus his son.

He shared and knows what laughter, joy, excitement, responsibility, love , families, and  of course shared and knows what oppression, pain sorrow, loss, rejection, and injustice and a painful death are all personally like, he shared them all as Jesus, and he shares it all with us now, if we let him in our hearts.

God shared in Jesus’ death,  in his glorious resurrection on Easter day, and shares with all who will ask him the new life of God through Jesus, for God has already shared our suffering and our deaths.

Lets look at an example from the Bible, lets look at one of the disciples asked to follow and share with him:

Matthew as we know him or Levi the sinful and hated tax collector as the people at the time knew him!

For the Gospel writer Matthew was one of the Friendless-  Matthew the tax-collector had no friends among any respectable folk. Hardly surprising, when he cheated most of them with his exces­sive tax demands, they often demanded far more than was necessary to line their own pockets, and collected money to pay the brutal roman army of occupation.

Matthew had hung around on the edge of the crowd when Jesus was speaking, and he liked what he'd heard, as Jesus shared.

Wistfully Matthew thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could live as Jesus is describ­ing, a life of kindness and sharing with others and acceptance by God?

But there was no chance of a sinner and tax-collector being accepted into that sort of society.

So he was caught off guard when Jesus turned to him and said, 'Follow me!' Like a young woman who has received an unexpected proposal of marriage, he was lost for words. 'What can I say?' he stammered. Jesus smiled. 'One word will do,'; 'Yes,' answered Matthew. 'Oh yes,  I will follow you wherever you want me to!' Then, what should he do next? he wondered.

What he really wanted to do was throw a party.

But Jesus would surely never come to a party where the only guests were the outcasts and despised like Matthew

So Mat­thew went off into a daydream, preparing for Jesus a shared banquet in his heart. Jesus startled him again, asking,

'What are you thinking about, friend?' 'W-w-well, I dreamt I was giving you a banquet. Oh, not a real banquet, you understand - it was a banquet in my heart.'

This time, Jesus laughed out loud. 'I've never been to one of those,' he chuckled.  But 'I'll accept your invitation. But you'll have to be a big-hearted person if there's going to be room for me and all your tax-collector friends!'
And when Jesus sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples'. So the location and sharing, had moved from Matthew's heart to Matthew's house, but people were astonished at the company Jesus kept, and who he shared his life with.
It took them a long time to understand that the Saviour of the world loves the outcast and those with a shady reputation, just as much as he loves the celebrities and the VIPs, and the respectable.
He enjoys parties, and he's happy to go to a party with anyone who invites him, in their home or in their heart. Jesus is the friend of sinners and the ordinary, to him their all special.
Have you ever invited Jesus to share a banquet in your heart?
Or others to share what Jesus offers all who will answer yes?
No, really, it's a very serious question.
Where does Jesus come in your life?
Do you leave him behind in church when you go home? Do you only think about him when you're being po-faced and respectable?
 That isn't enough. This isn’t a sharing discipleship…
Jesus wants to be with you and share in the whole of your life.
He wants you to open your heart, and share all your hopes and fears with him, Share your anger and your joy, your triumphs and disasters.
So why not give Jesus a party? A shared banquet in your heart is quite good enough for starters.
Jesus wants to be your close friend, your bosom pal. He wants you to consult him over all your decisions, and thank him for all your successes, and share all your disappointments as well.
That's a cause for celebration, surely isn't it?
But like Matthew we all have to decide to follow and to have that party in our hearts, and to share Jesus with others.
To paraphrase an old Saying,
Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay , love isn’t love till its shared and  given away!
Finally, lets consider another example- these lovely eggs…. Given to me.
Should I keep them all, count them, eat them, feel smug, and be respectable, or as we should do share, as Disciples of Christ called to follow and share?
I’ve made my decision, how about you?
I’m sharing…Amen. Share eggs out- pew by pew.2 bags per pew- open and share sisters and brothers.

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