Summary: We live in a dark world in the light of Jesus. How should we behave, and how can we live as God wants us to ?
Sermon – A Clear Conscience in the light (Ephesians 4 17-32)
Prayer: Lord, may these words be your words. May our minds and hearts be open to hear them. In Jesus name. Amen.
Good evening everyone – my name is Andy, and I am one of the Church Wardens here at St Peter’s. I hope you will all have been given a candle tonight – hold on to them because you’re going to need it later on.
We hear a lot these days about our multi-cultural society – about how we are a tolerant and generous people who can give a home to people of many different nationalities and faiths. That’s not to say that this policy doesn’t cause some tension. There have always been those who use minorities and perceived foreigners as a scapegoat for the ills of society. Clearly France at the moment is having to reassess how it deals with immigrants after the riots of the past few weeks.
In conjunction with our new multiculturalism, we are also told that we are a multi-faith society. All religions are seen to have equal validity, and the role of the Church of England as the established Church of this country is under question.
I found this quote from the vice President of the national secular society in a recent press article:
“ We find [belief] embarrassing as a country and it is time we accepted that," said Terry Sanderson. "People may say they believe in Christianity but if you question them even slightly it becomes clear that they cannot accept even the central tenets of it’s faith “
Sadly, there is a lot of truth in his words. Those of us who do come to church, who do have a faith that is real, who are seeking to be disciples of Jesus, are very much a minority these days.
But ironically the search for spirituality has become very fashionable. Movie stars and pop celebrities have publicly voiced their allegiance to various strange philosophies. Madonna is into Kabbalah. Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.
Recently an independent film called ‘What the bleep do we know’ became a surprise hit in America. The film is a mish-mash of the latest scientific theories and how these may lead to some kind of spiritual revolution. It’s confused and misleading, but much trendier than spending time with God in prayer or studying the Bible.
Of course there are also those who see no need for any kind of faith. I work in a small multi-faith team. I have both a Moslem and a Sikh colleague, and have an excellent relationship with them – we have respect for each other and our faith, and we have some interesting conversations. However, recently another of the team asked my Moslem colleague what he would be bringing in to celebrate Diwali. When he was informed that this was actually a Hindu festival, his response was – ‘well they’re all just fairy tales anyway’.
This guy has a bleak world view. He has rejected God – believes that this life is all there is, and that there is nothing beyond the rational or scientific. He, and so many others around us are in darkness. (LIGHTS OFF)
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding, and separated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”
Those words were written nearly 2,000 years ago, and several thousand miles away. They are absolutely as relevant here and now.
The darkness is despair, the darkness is bereft of hope, the darkness is a trap, a lie, and it is where Satan wants all humanity. (PAUSE) Lost. (PAUSE)
But we don’t have to be in the dark. (Light Candle) Jesus is our light – he is our hope, he is our truth, and we can bring that light to others. (Give light to ends of rows) Time to light those candles you have to hand – and as yours is lit, please us it to light the persons next to you. If the children can do it at the Christingle service next month, I see no reason why the adults shouldn’t too ! As we offer that light to one another – remember for a moment how God’s light came into your life. I suspect there are one or more Christians who were fundamental in bringing you into the light, or helping you grow in faith. As we share the light with each other it grows, and pushes back the darkness.
John 1 v5 “ The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” However dark it may seem – remember that the light Jesus brings can never be quenched.