Sermon: Lent 3, Year B
Exodus 20:1-17; John 2:13-25
In the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Old Testament debars graven images of God – likenesses of the unseen image are impossible, for God is, as he said to Moses in Exodus 3: “I AM”
However, Jesus Christ is the ultimate image of God – the ultimate Ikon.
John 1:14 “And the Word (logos) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word (logos) of life”
Ikons are windows into heaven, a manifestation of the seen God, of the Kingdom of God on earth, not just in heaven.
The word has been fully expressed. Not in words of prohibition but in words of assent: John 10:10 “I come that you may have life – life in all its fullness”
The earliest disciples could point to the risen Christ and say “This is how it will be for us after the resurrection” and their personal witness, even at the point of martyrdom proves more than anything of the truth of that revelation.
Take some time this Lent to spend it with an ikon. Look at is beauty, and see not the object in itself, but glimpse through it the seen God, the incarnated Christ, the redeemer on earth.
This is a real and live faith, not for books or arid bible reading. The 365 Prohibitions of the Torah are about what you are not to do. Look at the 10 Commandments. Christ is about enabling.
Rather than display the 10 commandments in Church (as they used to be behind what is now the reredos), if we put up anything I would suggest one of two sentiments:
John 10:10 “I come that you may have life – life in all its fullness”
Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”
It is not about what you don’t do. But about what you do.
Christ drove out the moneychangers and the animal sellers because his Gospel calls us to engage with things we don’t like, to transform them.
It’s not enough to decry young people on our streets, we must provide a youth project for them (which we have done),
it’s not enough to give in to secular pressures, we must stand up for our faith, and the truths of the Gospel, especially on matters of social justice.
In the power of Christ, we do not condemn, we forgive. We enable, we transform.
Condemnation is within the Old Testament, but the New Testament speaks of reconciliation.
St Paul knew this is contrary to the way of the world: a world that cannot forgive; a world that seeks to pick holes, to care only about itself and its own quota, a world of businessmen and management consultants who are concerned with the minutae of finance rather than the proclamation of the kingdom of God.
St Paul knew this was foolishness to the Greeks, but “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, God’s weakness is stronger than human strength”.
We as a parish look forward to the future with a new vibrancy and a knowledge of the Christ that liberates each and every one of us.
In the power of Christ, the redemption of the Cross, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God as a tangible reality in this place, in the power of prayer and the saving mystery of the eucharist, we know that God comes to transform us, to make us afresh, to give us life – life in all its fullness.