22 Oct 2017
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

15 Oct 2017
This Too Shall Pass

8 Oct 2017
The Simple Truth: Head, Heart and Hands

1 Oct 2017
Humility – Staying close to the ground

2 Jul 2017
Welcoming the Silence

25 Jun 2017
Always Uniting…

18 Jun 2017
Are you ready for harvest?

11 Jun 2017
Don’t Blame it on the Snake

4 Jun 2017
Words Beyond Words: Breath Beyond Breath

28 May 2017
Seeing with new eyes

14 May 2017
Grace, Gracious and Graceful

30 Apr 2017
A Time for war and a time for peace

23 Apr 2017
Faithful Doubting

16 Apr 2017
God became human so that we could become divine!

12 Mar 2017
Wind of the Spirit

12 Feb 2017
From the Mountainside: The Impossible Dream?

22 Jan 2017
Grounding our Life and Faith

25 Dec 2016
That Humanity should become Divine

11 Dec 2016
Joy is for Everyone

4 Dec 2016
The Mingling of Water and Spirit

27 Nov 2016
Living Fully in the Present Moment

16 Oct 2016
Persistence and Justice

9 Oct 2016
Gratitude and Thankfulness

2 Oct 2016
Standing in the Tragic Gap

25 Sep 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man

4 Sep 2016
The Gift of Freedom

21 Aug 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

14 Aug 2016
We all need wise words to live by

31 Jul 2016
When Less is More

24 Jul 2016
Developing Healthy Relationships

17 Jul 2016
Died Wise

10 Jul 2016
Meeting Strangers on the Road

3 Jul 2016
On the Road Again

29 May 2016
Faith is the Answer

22 May 2016
The Way of Wisdom

15 May 2016
Icons and Stained Glass Windows – Inner light

8 May 2016
Unity and Oneness

1 May 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

24 Apr 2016
Lest we forget: What?

17 Apr 2016
God became human so that we could become divine!

3 Apr 2016
Thank God for St Thomas!

27 Mar 2016
Living life’s great contradictions

20 Mar 2016
Message of Peace

13 Mar 2016
Living Fully, Loving Wastefully

6 Mar 2016
Come Home, all is forgiven

28 Feb 2016
Simply, leave it alone

21 Feb 2016
Why do we “kill” our prophets?

7 Feb 2016
Keeping your Head in the Clouds

Sermons

Grounding our Life and Faith

22 January, 2017 Matthew 7: 24 - 29 Epiphany 3 By Rev Dr Christopher Page

 

Introduction: The Sayings of Jesus
Before we consider this parable of the wise and foolish builders, I would like to briefly look at the context of this teaching of Jesus. This “sermon” of Jesus begins on a mountainside and gives these sayings a narrative context:

  • Jesus came to fulfil the law not to abolish it. All that has gone before is incorporated in the present moment.
  • You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, don’t be shy!

  • The Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God; Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God; Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God and so forth

  • The Hard Sayings
    • If you hate then you have already committed murder.
    • If you lust you have already committed adultery.
    • Divorce is problematic (although the passage seems to favour a male perspective rather than a female one)
    • Do not swear an oath, just let your yes be yes and your no be no.
    • Go beyond the old rule of an eye for an eye, rather turn the other cheek… and give the one who asks the shirt off your back.
    • Love your enemies
    • Give to the needy and don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

  • There are words about how to pray.

  • And of course in Chapter 6 The Lord’s Prayer

  • There are some guidelines on how to present yourself when you are fasting

  • The pointlessness of storing up your treasure on earth, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

  • The Problem of Worry

  • The significance of not judging others, for by the same measure that we judge others, so we will be judged

  • Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you

  • The story of the Narrow Gate; true and false prophets; true and false disciples.

  • And now we conclude with the wise and foolish builders.

Quite a list and as I have mentioned, an incredibly wide sweep of all that has shaped Christian community and the Christian faith over two thousand years.

 

The Wise and Foolish Builders
It seems perhaps that the “sermon”- the sayings - have been moving toward this parable. The final verse of Chapter Seven states, When Jesus had finished saying these things....  In one sense this complex and powerful ethic of the Christian faith will finish with a simple story that gives advice on building codes:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

And that is the point, all that has gone before is the foundation on which this emerging faith community is to be built. The parable, like all parables, pushes the things of everyday life into service of a greater good. To end with an image of the ground on which we build our lives and our faith is so important.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

This final story recognises that we all need a foundation and a “groundedness” to our life and faith. The metaphor has been used in many ways. The wind blows against the house; the rain pours down; the rivers rise and what we have built in life is in danger of collapsing.

Some time ago I read two books by authors who are both blind. The first is titled Invisible, written by Hugues de Montalembert, and the second, which I have only read excerpts from, was written by another Frenchman who was blind: Jacques Lusseyran. I think reading these authors gave me a new appreciation of the “giftedness” many people who are blind have. For me and perhaps for many, the thought of losing one’s sight is terrifying. Lusseyran helps us “see” that the foundation and grounding centre of our life is not out there but it is in fact in here. He writes:

The source of light is not in the outer world. We believe that it is there only because of a common delusion. The light dwells where life also dwells: within ourselves… The problem with seeing the regular way is that sight naturally prefers outer appearances.

That’s the rock on which we build our lives. The inner commitment to the light that is emitted from the sayings we have just read. Then when the winds of life blow and the storms of life threaten and the rivers rise and the flood comes, we are sustained by an inner hope, an inner light and a conviction that we are standing on solid ground. Now that confidence doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes the practice of daily living, which some may call discipleship, to shape and reshape our core being.

Often we may feel more like the man in the second part of this story. Remember both builders used the same materials; it was only the foundation on which they built that was different.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Now before anyone gets the chance to tell me: I do know that a builder will say today that it is preferable to build a house on the sand because with the introduction of concrete, sand becomes more stable that rock. And rock is often subject to more movement within the soil. But this of course is an illustration from the ancient world (no concrete then) and it employs this metaphor as a way of drawing us into a truth about life and particularly the significance of practising or doing the words that Jesus has spoken and not just believing them.

Perhaps the most important thing we can take from this Sermon on the Mount, these sayings of Jesus, is that being a follower of Jesus is about a “practice” and about “doing.” Those who hear these words of mine and put them into practice… Maybe that is why this Sermon on the Mount is often put into the too hard basket and pushed to some ethereal age sometime in the future, rather than us living “into” the words and then “acting out” from them. Often they have been ignored or just encoded within a belief system. What was it that the essayist and journalist G.K. Chesterton said? Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

So these sayings of Jesus end with the final words of the author of Matthew’s gospel:

The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught with authority, and not in the way the teachers of the law taught.

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