Only connect: passion, prose, love and trust
Preacher: Canon Neil Thompson, Precentor
11 August 2013, 10:30 (The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity)Only connect – that simple phrase with its sense of urgent advice comes from E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End - a story published in 1910 depicting a very different England from ours but where lives were just as fragmented and people lost and unhappy because the prose of our everyday life with its duties and routines was and is always disconnected from the passion and the vision which can light our lives through a whole range of experiences: love, birth, music and art, sport and friendship and so on and on.
Today. here in the cathedral, many of us are probably connected in a different way:
· Hands up if you have a mobile phone.
· Hands up if you are connected to the internet.
Yes, many of us, most of us, are connected. This week we learnt that the children now get their first mobile phone at the age of 7½.
It won’t be long before Eva-Marie, Harry and Grace to have theirs.
And there lies a real worry.
Another big news item this week was the suicide of a young girl aged 14 who had been bullied on a social network website.
And all this is against a backdrop of never ending reports of abuse, terrorism and war. The world around us is hostile and dangerous as well as beautiful and inspiring and exciting.
Our readings this morning are really tough passages: the prophet Isaiah has a vision in the face of a faithless people who chose to do what they want rather than live God’s ways of love and truth.
It is a world so different in so many ways from ours and yet beset by the same underlying failures of humankind.
We not only fail to connect with one another consistently in trust but our secular world has also lost the whole dimension and power of faith.
Faith is what we have come to celebrate: here in the Eucharist and in the baptism of Grace, Eva-Marie and Harry.
And it is our gospel reading from St Luke that leads us into this bigger and freer world of faith that invites us to connect with God and one another in a new and utterly different way.
I am sure none of the children being baptised have yet got a mobile phone but they probably have lots of toys.
We live in a materialist world full of good and wonderful things.
But they are also dangerous because they can eventually possess us and blind us to the real world of God and neighbour.
For Christians, life is a journey and an adventure: it is not a system of rules that clips our wings and spoils what we can do and enjoy in this life.
The rules are the public safeguards to enable us to live with one another, creatively and free.
But it is the adventure of life in all its fullness that really matters.
This is who and what Jesus is: the invitation to love with him and in him beyond our own means.
This morning in St Luke Jesus tells his disciples to sell their possessions and give alms.
And the reason he does this because he could see the great crisis of his betrayal, torture and death, the great test this created for the disciples and the terrible judgment that was overtaking Israel, God’s chosen people.
Things were going to get in the way; disciples must always be alert and ready.
By contrast, most of our assumptions in terms of education and a world view are about a material way of life in which comfort, pleasure, status and ego are the principle values and goals.
We settle down into this life when we are relatively rich and secure and forget what our lives are truly about.
This morning we are welcoming three new Christians.
What are we going to say to them as they grow up?
How are they going to be free and safe in a world of uncertainties, betrayal and danger?
Our role as Jesus’ family is to care and to lead and to serve.
Here in worship we offer our lives so that they can be changed and strengthened in the ways of love and truth and freedom.
Here at the altar we shed all the trappings of wealth and status, all the limitations of selfishness and pride.
We come just as we are – with nothing save our very self – and here we forget our diaries and commitments and remember only the needs of others and the power of God.
If you don’t want to be changed, there is no point in being here.
It is that simple.
In worship – through words and actions and the experiences of our senses – our limited time is touched by eternity and our lives placed in a completely different context.
We need to see this and also to remember it as we leave this morning to live in the new week.
And we also need to share it, and to do so
- in the way we bring up our children,
- in the way that we vote and get involved in community, society and the great issues of the world.
God will never reject us if we will but connect with him and love and trust him in Jesus Christ.
May Harry and Grace and Eva-Marie come to know this truth and enjoy the blessings of this life and eternity.
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