6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermon Illustrations

Just over a century ago, archaeologists discovered two magnificent silver cups both with Irish Celtic origins. The first is known as the Gundestrup Cauldron and comes from a century or two before Christ. This was a the time when the Irish worshipped violent pagan gods. It is adorned with pictures of gods and warriors. One panel shows a gigantic cook-god holding squirming humans and dropping them into a vat of oil. These gods demand human sacrifice to appease their appetite.

The second cup is called the Ardagh Chalice and comes from the seventh or eighth centuries after Christ. By this time in history, the Irish had turned to Christianity – thanks to missionary efforts of St Patrick. Like the first cup, it is a work of magnificent craftsmanship, but the God depicted on this cup is radically different. It has a simple but intricate patterning, and the names of the 12 apostles are engraved around the rim. It’s different to the first because this is a cup of peace, and it was designed to be used in communion. (Source: reported in T Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilisation - Hodder, 1995)

In the first cup we see depicted a civilisation of disorder, where violence and fear reign supreme. It’s a society that knows nothing of Jesus Christ. On the second cup we see a civilisation that’s at peace with God – a people who celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

The point is this, the source of peace, in any civilisation, is God.

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