Sermon Notes: Ordinary 21, Year C

Text: Luke 13:22-30

  • “There is, perhaps no greater hardship afflicted upon mankind in civilised and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons” – Anthony Trollope
  • Last week’s Gospel spoke of the radical nature of the Good News of Jesus Christ – the Magnificat or Song of Mary, where the humble are lifted up, the hungry filled and the poor remembered
    • This call to radical action and engagement continues in today’s Gospel
    • In a Society which seems to stand for competition, ‘dog-eat-dog’ and the selfish gene, the declaration that the first will be last and the last first seems very uncomfortable, unconventional and for the most part unheard – ignored by the church which sits so close to the reins of power, money and influence.
    • It is an uncomfortable truth, an uncompromising truth, it should undermine your very cosy assumptions of a religion formed out of habit and fluffy feelings
    • In putting this so starkly, I know I risk offending you, but not to do so fails to truly reflect the challenge that this text presents.
  • The uncomfortable truth is that each and every one of us – you and me included – needs to be converted, needs to be transformed. Transformed by Christ. Now.
  • There is a key difference between Baptism and Conversion: for the sacrament of baptism confers God’s grace on the individual (child or adult) who receives it, but the grace of God has an effect, a process, a conversion of every one who is touched by that.
    • For some, that may be manifest at Confirmation
    • For some that may be the work of a lifetime, something that may only be truly complete at our death and reuniting with God.
    • However, that does not mean that we should not strive to achieve it in our lives
    • We should actively seek that our lives may be conformed to the likeness of Christ, which by implication is the likeness of God.
  • It isn’t enough to simply turn up, say the words of worship and return to a life unchanged by the Gospel
  • It isn’t enough to have a pious Sunday and spend the next six days  in the pursuit of inequality, selfishness or injustice.
  • The purpose of seeking to become more conformed to the likeness of Christ is to complete ourselves, and in becoming ourselves we become complete. In Christ.
  • Ask yourself what it looks like to be complete in Christ
    • To fully know and understand the love of God and the relationship with the Father
    • To be able to reflect that love towards all those we encounter, even the unloved and the unlovable
    • To be given life, life in all its fullness (John 10:10)
  • When we are transformed, then it suddenly makes sense: the old order changeth and the poor and dispossessed are given full and fair equal access to God’s love.
  • Be transformed.
  • Be. Like. Christ.