Summary: This sermon it is about suffering, and taking up our crosses, and denying ourselves, and loosing our lives. Where is the honour and hope and victory and glory in that one? Well you will be surprised!
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the 2nd Sunday in lent; and the theme of today’s service is about suffering, … about taking up our crosses, … and denying ourselves, … while loosing our lives.
This was a very difficult sermon to write, and … you may ask, “Where is the honour and hope and victory and glory in that one”? Well you maybe surprised! It does have a sort of surprising happy ending. More on that later, so let us begin the service with the peace. We meet in Christ’s name; Let us share his peace.
“Please be seated, and join me in a short prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14)
Centuries of Christian history have made us very familiar with the suffering of Jesus, … and we accept this, we ener sing about it, but in the deep recesses of our minds, we avoid it, … and turn away from scripture like that which we have just read.
Now I don't know about you, but I find life pretty hard going, … in fact I am struggling, … so please count yourselves all blessed, … all of you except Christine this is, … because you do not have to witness me getting up in the morning. … As normal, after a night of poor sleep, … with these legs I stumble, I hang on to the walls and things trying to get to bathroom, ... and then she has to listen to me moaning about how bad school is going to be today because of this new curriculum; ... and that amongst 10 million other problems I have, … that make me wonder how exactly am I going to survive the day, … in fact, I don’t even think as far as the weekend, it is that bad and it is not funny, that is me every single morning, … so please forgive me for not being enthusiastic when some body tells me that I am not suffering enough for Christ. Are you with me?
Ever since I have become a Christian, I have met such people, who like to look down on us with a piety that they have lives problems all solved, and we are simply beneath them in our feeble attempts; … do you know the type; because when you think about it, … to add extra suffering to what we are going through sounds like the definition stupidity itself.
… Now have you ever noticed that I have never said that we should add extra sufferings to our lives? No, and I never will, ... I have always put it another way; and I have said many times that by following Christ we will suffer automatically, … but we will suffer a different type of suffering, a healing suffering I call it, where there is hope and that we are doing the right thing, … suffering in order to help others.
For example, and in contrast, … when I was young I was no angel, … pure delinquent if you want the truth, … and many times I found myself in trouble as I fumbled about trying to make sense of this world, … and I always failed, ... so for me to suffer was a normal part of life, just an every day hazard, … but I was always upsetting other people who retaliated. In fact the more I tried to establish myself, the more trouble I seamed to get myself into. It was an even decreasing circle.
Fortunately I turned to the Lord for help, and from last weeks sermon, you can see how I went through many years in the wilderness suffering, but suffering in a manner that was changing me, and my whole life, … and my view of the world. And as I said last week, that is the power of God, … he will lead us into dark areas in order to develop us, and prepare us for the life ahead, … whether it is in this world or the next.
A few years ago, I said in a sermon to you, that I got a great revelation on the 23rd Psalm; verse 4, (changing the tense it reads), “Yea, though (they) walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (they) will fear no evil: … for thou art with (them); thy rod and thy staff they comfort (them). The revelation came to me when I ask the question, … what were they doing in the valley of the shadow of death in the first place, that they needed the Lord to guide them? … And the answer really hit me, and that was because the shepherd was leading them to pastures new, … the old pasture were spent, and they needed to move on.