Crying out….advent day 5

I am preparing service for Sunday where I will be using the lectionary readings, looking particularly at Matthew 3: 1-12, which offers us the account of John the Baptist’s ministry, The Message Version gives this passage the title: “Thunder in the desert” , giving us a picture of a man crying out to the people of his day to dare to live changed lives, lives of justice and peace, and pointing to the one who would come after him, Jesus the Christ, whose arrival we await, looking back to the Christmas story, and forward to the time when somehow in Christ all things will be made new.

This morning I took a small part of that message to a mid-week service, travelling into town I am struck again by the number of homeless people I pass, my walk takes me by 3 hospitals, and having friends working in all 3 of them I am aware of the huge pressures on the NHS. I walk past shops stuffed with goods for the Christmas season, and also churches where collection boxes are filling for local food-banks who serve increasing numbers of vulnerable people, often working people with children to feed, people whose struggle to budget not because they are incapable, but because Universal Credit means that their income is unpredictable…. and I wonder what John would say to us today? How would he challenge us to live for justice and peace, what would he think to the laden supermarket shelves and the food-bank collecting points, what would he say about the NHS, how would he call us to be as we who call ourselves Christian are called to be Christ-like, Christ-full, and Spirit led?

I am sure that you could name other injustices, we could talk of climate change, of school provision, of worldwide inequality, of our tolerance of racism, of wars and refugees, I have no doubt that our lists would fill…

We sang this morning, nothing unusual in that in a service, but we sang to a completely out of tune piano, it was so terrible that it challenged even the best singers to hold the tune, at first I thought I would just stop our accompanist, but then thought no, this is actually an illustration, raising the question ” are we in tune with what the Spirit is saying?” Have we caught what is on God’s heart, have I, I have to ask myself that…

Do I live the message I preach? Do I really seek justice, peace, inclusion for all? Of course the answer is yes and no, sometimes more yes than no, and sometimes more no than yes, life is complex, and I can lose perspective, I can become overwhelmed…

So this afternoon I took all of my inconsistencies, and my concerns out to climb a hill, work and family relationships, general anxiety about the world in general, and this country, this city in particular… all the rough places I would like to see smoorth but simply feel rough at the moment and shouted them into the wind…. thankfully I was the only one up there, with the wind stinging my face, and the rain feeling more like ice pellets…

In this time of waiting and preparation, I hold onto the words we sang today, to the out of tune piano, in this time of waiting I can only hold my out of tune life before God and cry out in the deserted places of my being “O Come, O come Immanuel”, come and set me free, ransome me, and make me a part of the move for justice and for peace, for love over hate, for inclusion over exclusion….

I look for signs of hope, and of course there are many, not least the stances taken in Sheffield over the last few weeks to stand against those whose message is hate. Our Circuit Meeting adopted the following Motion, other faith leaders, and denominational leaders have made similar statements:

Re the Franklin Graham Tour 2020 (Which includes Sheffield on the 6th June 2020)

Sheffield Methodist Circuit welcomes initiatives to promote the Gospel and share the Good News of Christ with those within our community. However, in line with the policies of the Methodist Church, the Circuit cannot support any preaching or teaching which promotes homophobia or is likely to be damaging to interfaith dialogue. Whilst individuals are of course free to engage with the Franklin Graham Tour 2020, if they so wish, Sheffield Methodist Circuit cannot support the UK Tour in the light of various comments made by Franklin Graham in the past, and despite assurances made about the content of his Gospel Message.

This and other signs of hope give me hope, there are times that we are in tune, may they begin to outnumber the times we aren’t.


About Sally C

How do I describe myself, I am not what I do, (I am a Methodist Minister), I am not who I am related to (I have 5 wonderful children, 2 lovely granddaughters and 2 lovely grandsons). I am a seeker truth, a partaker of life in all it's fullness and a follower, sometimes stumbling, sometimes celebrating of the Christian pathway. I seek wholeness, joy and a connectedness to all things through a deep reconciliation with the God whose love blows my socks off! I love walking, swimming and photography, I dabble with paint and poetry...
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