TALK FOR MAY 17TH 2020
Six hundred years before Paul arrived in Athens there was a great plague. To try to sort this the people let a herd of sheep loose and where they fell they were offered to the nearest god’s altar and if there wasn’t one around, they offered it to an unknown god. It was said by Xenophon that Athens was “one great altar”. Paul could have just taken the tourist trail because Athens was a centre for architecture and culture. But he found the altar to the Unknown God and used it to tell the people of the God that he knew and loved so well.
Many of those who listened were unhappy with the gods that were worshipped but had no option. Many listened to Paul as he talked to them about the God he loved so much. He told them that “God is actually not far from any one of us” and that we are all his children. Many were searching for something more in their lives.
Isn’t this true of the situation we find ourselves in today? We cannot understand Covid 19 but we need something positive to cling onto and what is more positive than the love of Christ for each one of us in whatever situation we find ourselves. People are searching now and this is reflected in the numbers who are watching the services being streamed; far more than ever go to our churches. As people search so must we be willing to be open to God and speak to others of the gospel news that Christ is risen, alive and waits for each one of us to turn to him. In the Gospel reading for today which is John ch 14 v 15-21, in v 18 in various versions Jesus says “I will not leave you as orphans, all alone, comfortless”. And that is the greatest promise which we can accept. Our God is not unknown! A short poem that I found and would like to pass on to you:
Because he emptied himself of all but love, you can be filled.
Because his body was broken, your life can be whole.
Because his blood was shed, your sins can be forgiven.
Because he submitted to injustice, you can forgive,
Because he finished his Father’s work, your life has worth.
Because he was forsaken, you can never be alone.
Because he was buried, you can be raised.
Because he lives, you don’t have to be afraid,
Because he reached down to you, you don’t have to work your way up to him.
Because his promises are always true, you can have hope. Amen.