Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 14 February 2016
Today’s Bible reading is from the King James Bible; the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, verses 28 – 34.
v28: And one of the scribes came, and having heard the Sadducees and Jesus reasoning together, and perceiving that Jesus had answered them well, asked him; “Which is the first Commandment of all?”
v29: And Jesus answered him; “The first of all Commandments is – Hear O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord.
v30: And thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first Commandment.
v31: And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other Commandment greater than these.”
v32: And the scribe said to him; “Well, Master, you have said the truth, for there is one God, and there is none other but he.
v33: And to love him with all your heart and with all your understanding, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, is more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
v34: And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said to him; “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no man after that dare ask him any questions.
Sermon / Address
As I think you are all aware, today is Valentine’s Day. Who was Valentine or St Valentine? There are many stories. There are many Christian martyrs named Valentine but a popular account relates to St Valentine of Rome. He was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers. Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry. He was also convicted of ministering to the Christians who were outlawed at that time. Whilst in prison, he restored the sight of the jailer’s daughter. Before execution, he wrote her a letter and signed it: “Your Valentine”.
It was not until the14th century when Chaucer wrote his poem about “Valentines” that the romantic connexion was made. He wrote: “For this was on St Valentine’s Day when every bird cometh to choose his mate”.
Now turning to my text, the scribe is asking Jesus; “Which is the most important Commandment?” First thoughts might be; “Thou shalt not kill” or perhaps; “Thou shalt not steal.” One or 2 others come to mind, but we would be wrong. Jesus made it very clear that, above all else, we should unconditionally love the Lord our God. He wasn’t saying that just because God is Jesus’s father. When you think about it, it makes sense. If you love God and worship him, as we do each Sunday, then we are hardly going to go out and start murdering people or stealing from them as that is a direct contradiction of saying we love God. In other words, no one who really loves God is going to break the other Commandments.
Jesus was saying not only should we love God but he was very keen for us to love one another. If you sum it up in 1 word it would be Love. Love God, love your neighbour. Remember Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 10. He showed love and compassion to the injured Jew even though he was a foreigner. It illustrated that anyone, not just the folks next door can fit the definition of neighbour, even foreigners.
An old proverb or saying that is used even today is; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That fits in well with what Jesus was explaining to the scribe. Do good deeds to others, whoever they may be because you would like people to do good deeds to you. There is far too much hatred and jealously in the world today. Too many people are trying to put down others and spread malicious rumours about others. Instead of hating people or being jealous of them, we should try to be like the Samaritan and show love and compassion towards others. You might remember the 90s song from the musical “Carnival”; “Love makes the world go round.”
On Valentine’s Day and beyond follow Jesus’s two most important Commandments, love God, love one another and you can’t go wrong. If we all did, the world would be a much better place.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 28 February 2016
Today’s Bible reading is from the King James Bible, the Book of Job, Chapter 38, verse 1 and verses 31 – 36.
v1: Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said
v31: Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
v32: Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or can you guide Arcturus with his sons?
v33: Know you the ordinances of heaven? Can you set the dominion thereof in the earth?
v34: Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover you?
v35: Can you send lightnings that they may go and say to you, here we are?
v36: Who has put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
Sermon / Address
My January sermon was about the Psalms. The Book of Job is similar being written in a poetic style.
Alfred Lord Tennyson thought it to be the greatest poem of ancient & modern times. It was written around 600 BC. In my text God is showing Job how powerful and omnipotent he is. Job, on the other hand, is shown to be ignorant and weak. Is the story relevant to us today?
We all know the story of poor old Job. A pious & virtuous man who, through no fault of his own, suffered greatly at the hand of Satan and, according to the story, with God’s agreement.
How can this be? He did all the right things. He kept all the commandments and what did he get? His house was blown down killing his sons & daughters. His livestock was stolen or killed. Finally he was covered in sores.
Why did all this happen? Conventional wisdom states that God rewards virtue and punishes sin.
If you try and do the right thing shouldn’t you be rewarded? If only life were that simple.We were not put on this Earth for a holiday, relaxing in deck chairs and sipping gin and tonics all day. We are here to learn and the way we learn is by experience both good & bad. That is not to say we don’t need to do the right thing because we could suffer anyway; far from it. Remember how much Jesus suffered during his life. A more virtuous man never walked this Earth.
We can only progress to God’s higher spheres when we have successfully undertaken many painful experiences, both physical and spiritual, over many lives to gain wisdom & understanding. Avoiding them in one life means we have to keep coming back again and again until we have successfully dealt with them and gained the necessary experiences. This illustrates two of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism:
4) The continuous existence of the human soul.
7) Eternal progress open to every human soul.
Whilst cursing the day he was born, Job never really lost his faith in God even though it was sorely tested. In the end God restored Job’s health and wealth and he lived happily ever after.
We may feel life has been cruel as did Job. We may feel we have had more than our fair share of pain and suffering compared to old Fred and Jane who have always had it easy. But you don’t always know the full story. In a past life they could have suffered greatly or it may be yet to come.
You can’t really appreciate joy until you have endured sorrow. Always remember the pain & suffering Jesus had to endure. When our time comes to pass into spirit, it will all be explained.
Then it will become clear to us and we shall know why. In the end God didn’t let Job down. He won’t let you down. So keep your faith in God.
God bless you.