Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 13 October 2019
Today’s Bible reading is taken from Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 10 and I shall be reading verses 17 to 25 from the King James Version
17) And when Jesus had gone into the way, there came a man running and kneeled before him and asked him; “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18) And Jesus said to him; “Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is God.
19) You know the Commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honour your father and mother.
20) And he answered and said to him; “Master, all these I have observed from my youth”.
21) Then Jesus seeing him, loved him and said to him; “One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven, and come, take up the cross and follow me.”
22) And he was sad at what Jesus had said, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.
23) And Jesus looked round about and said to his disciples; “how can those that have riches come into the kingdom of God.”
24) And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again and said to them; “Children, how hard is it for them that have riches to enter the kingdom of God.
25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.
Sermon / Address
Those of you who were here for my last address in August might recall that I talked about something that was becoming more and more scarce these days. The obvious flippant answer would have been money but, instead I lamented on the lack of respect in the world today. So this morning I shall be discussing that very subject which, for better or more often for worse, is closest to many people’s hearts – money.
In 2015 the Swedish group Abba had a hit song titled: “Money, money, money,” in which they bemoaned the lack of money and wished they could find a wealthy man. Then, they sung, all their worries would be over. But would they? In the 1964 Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, the lead actor Tevye wished he were a rich man then he would not have to work so hard and he could build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen – and so on.
I think we all dream about being rich sometime during our lives. I know I have. But is money the answer to all our problems? Does it achieve happiness? Of course we need money to survive in Western Society. Without it we may well end up sleeping rough, as an increasing number of people in Perth are forced to do each night. But there is a balance between having too much and too little.
Does having plenty of money guarantee happiness? Not necessarily. In fact I know people who lie awake worrying about their investments. Will the share market crash? Is their property investment costing them more than they are making? Are the tenants looking after the place? Money is ruling their lives.
There are others who feel they have to keep up with the Jonese's next door. They have to have the latest SUV with all the bells and whistles. Last year’s model is just not good enough. They have to have at least a 60 inch smart TV. Their kids have to go to a private school. They are itching to be the first to have a 5G iPhone. All of this in order to have bragging rights at the golf club or fitness centre. Again, money and physical possessions are ruling their lives but do they bring happiness and contentment?
Turning to this morning’s Bible reading, the rich man was asking Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. In other words, how could he ensure he would go to heaven when his time came to leave the Earth plain. Here we have a man who, according to Mark’s gospel, had great possessions. But it was not enough. All that wealth had not really brought him happiness and contentment.
Instead, he was worried about going to heaven. He knew all his wealth would not buy him a ticket to heaven and he was asking for Jesus’s advice. Jesus quickly confirmed his worst fears telling him to sell whatever he had and give the proceeds to the poor. Jesus had little time for rich people and made it clear that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
That is Jesus’s message to all who are besotted with acquiring money and expensive possessions. They won’t help you prepare for the next life because you can’t take them with you when you leave the Earth plain, as we all shall - eventually. In spirit they are not driving around in flashy cars or texting each other on the latest mobiles. Yes, we need money to exist but let’s get it into perspective. Don’t let money rule your life.
Jesus was far more concerned that we look after one another rather than looking after our money. Remember that after respecting and loving God, the second most important commandment is not love your money. It is love your neighbour as you love yourself.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 8 December 2019
My Bible reading this morning is taken from the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 1 and I shall be reading verses 1 to 8 from the King James Version of the Bible.
1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
2) As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3) The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4) John did baptize in the wilderness and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5) And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
6) And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7) And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8) I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Today is the 2nd Sunday in Advent which is the lead-up to Christians celebrating the birth of Christ. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin, meaning “coming”. But for many people in Western society their minds are focussed on getting serious about Christmas shopping. The shops, particularly the department stores, have had Christmas decorations up since early September complete with endless Christmas music. So far you have managed to avoid giving it serious thought but there are now only a few shopping days left. So you can’t put it off anymore. The kids won’t let you. They are continually talking about what Father Christmas is going to bring them. You are starting to think about what you should be getting your spouse or partner because last year’s present did not go down too well.
Then there are the Christmas parties to look forward to or, perhaps, dread. The office parties which might begin pleasantly enough but can rapidly go downhill if 1 or 2 people get a bit too tipsy. The family get-togethers which might go well as long as Fred and Jane’s kids don’t start fighting all the other kids again or Uncle Jim doesn’t rabbit on about politics. For many, Christmas is an excuse to over-indulge; too much food, too much alcohol. But is that what Christmas is really all about? The short answer is no.
Turning to today’s Bible reading, John the Baptist is telling everyone that he is preparing the way for one who is mightier than him; one who will baptise the people with the Holy Spirit rather than water as John did. This was the first Advent with John telling people to prepare themselves for the imminent arrival of the Messiah. The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53 had predicted the coming of the Messiah over 500 years earlier and included Jesus’s final days on Earth in extraordinary detail. Today Advent is a time when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, in some cases using the Advent candle. Some Christians also use it as a time to look forward to the second coming of Jesus, believing that he will return to Earth sometime in the future, as prophesied in the Book of Isaiah.
The true meaning of Christmas is frequently overwhelmed by businesses turning the event into a commercial opportunity to increase their sales, whilst some overzealous public servants try to take political correctness too far by attempting to obscure the whole point of Christmas – the birth of Christ. Nevertheless, it is still a wondrous event for many Christians, both young and old. For me the anticipation of and preparation for Christmas, in other words the Advent weeks are almost as exciting as Christmas Day itself. So let us celebrate the coming of Christmas not just as a time to spend our hard earned money on things we don’t really need or to overindulge in food and drink. Instead, as Christians let us remember the true meaning of Christmas and make that the focus of our celebrations.
God bless you.