“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy spirit be with you all.”
It would seem that there has always been a social prejudice whether it has been on a personal level as in one to one between two people or maybe between races, people hating someone because of the skin colour, or their differences in religious views or even their gender.
Things like these never change, people say we are tolerant or we accept or sometimes we are just plain ignorant.
To the fact that we should accept all God’s people as God does.
History does repeat itself. Let us just pick a scenario, and look through the centuries and this issue will raise its ugly head time and time again.
The scenario I have in mind is the migration of people, like the migration of the Jewish nation to Egypt, and then their expulsion from that land that had been their home for four centuries.
These people who originally migrated in hope to find a better life and to feed themselves to sustain their existence and preserve their race because of the famine in Canaan.
Before we look properly at this scenario, let us think about Lent.
Lent is a time to abstain, but it is also a time to give, to reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves.
I am very sure we don’t suffer from the old Mother Hubbard syndrome when she opened her cupboard, and her cupboard was bare.
Nor do we suffer from a lack of almost anything. We have a stable economy we can sleep at night in peace and we do not fear for our lives.
We can turn the tap on and drink the water, we have food and many, many other things.
I often hear people complain about the lives we have here. I never see them leave our country, I wonder why?
At this point I will introduce my theme and it is a very simple message I bring to you all today.
Do you have something to give? Or simply a spare loaf to give away, and feed those who are in need?
Charity is within our grasp, it is something we all possess. And we can contribute by simply helping someone who is in need.
Like when reading the passage from Isaiah 55:1-9, it talks to me about God giving us all life and everything that we need to sustain our existence.
Much in the same way as Luke talks about the Fig tree, of how it never bore fruit, but by being given a second chance it would be nurtured and given everything it needed.
Much in the same way as the people who have come to live here, whether it is here on Bute or within the United Kingdom.
We can relate to this in the way that how our community has welcomed 15 families from Syria, displaced people. These people have been given a new life in a new country.
They have been driven to seek a new life and a new beginning, and often at a high price, with personal losses.
Coming from a place lacking in everything, with an uncertain future, I am sure that when our country reached out to them they felt blessed in knowing that there was a hope, a certain future for them all.
I am sure they will integrate into our society very well, much in the same way that other people that have come here from other places.
It is strange how people simply judge others, when for a moment they should think:
Where their fore bearers came from?
When did they come to the United Kingdom?
Why did they leave the countries of their birth, what was the reason for them leaving, was there some economic reason?
Was there a lack of food; was there a lack of work? Why were they being squeezed out?
Maybe because of their religious beliefs?
The only people that have these answers are the people themselves.
Some time ago I learned that someone I thought I knew was of Polish descent. Her father was a Polish freedom fighter during world war two and he had come to Glasgow after his service and subsequently he and his Glaswegian wife settled on Bute.
There seems to be a general stigma, when people refer to others saying “Oh they are not local”.
Well in my eyes we are all local, we live in the locality and I do not differentiate in any way.
Maybe if there is any doubt we will have to mend our ways and change.
I am sure that if we all have a sudden change in our lives, things could be difficult.
But only for a moment until we figure out where we are and how does this sudden change actually affect us.
But what if we lost everything and were just sitting by the roadside destitute, cut off from all aid and had nothing but the shirts on our back?
Suppressed by some despot or militia group, because of our religious beliefs being a minority and pressed to join up or leave their homeland?
Almost as if we were all being enslaved, sounds horrific but this sort of thing happens daily throughout the world.
Civil rights being denied is not a new thing, it is not that long ago that this occurred in the U.S.A. – well within my life time, that a civil rights activist, a non-violent group, were campaigning, led by a man called Martin Luther King Jnr.
What were they striving for? Just to exist, to be treated fairly and to be equal to everyone else.
Martin Luther king Jnr, was an outstanding preacher, a Nobel peace prize winner and man that stood for all people that were being beaten down by the social system, black or white.
A man who loved his people and loved his country, a man that had a “Dream” and all he wanted to do was to “Do god’s will” and lead the people to the Promise
He often said “I may not get there with you”, but he “Gave all up” that was sacred to him in his life for his country for his people for his beliefs.
As he strived for equality of his fellow man, he was gunned down, and many years have passed since.
I wonder if Martin Luther King Jnr would have ever dreamed that his organisation still exists and would he ever have believed that America has a black president.
People make many sacrifices as they strive only to exist and who knows what battles people shoulder daily.
The Jewish Nation was lead out of bondage to their “Promised land” and to what today is called the State of Israel, formerly Palestine.
And within that country on a daily basis people there strive to live, suppressed behind a wall
Only seeking their human rights, not to be herded like animals and treated like second class citizens.
But it does seem to happen. Can we ever take in that in this day and age people are being treated in this barbaric way, much in the same way as Immigrants are?
Who could blame anyone for wanting to come to this country, this stable economy that we have, this country that feeds, us cares for us and keeps us safe from the despots of the world.
Keeping us from being marginalised, oppressed, maybe we should treat the immigrants like the parable of the barren Fig tree.
If we just “Give” a little nurture to allow them a second chance, then they will bear fruit and contribute and become an asset to this world that we know and love.
Rather than them being cut down and thrown on the rubbish heap and cast out.
And this is the way God treats us all, God gives us all Grace by giving us all a second chance.
Let us be a welcoming nation as we approach Easter in this the third week of Lent.
And ultimately we will celebrate the arrival of Jesus as he arrives at god’s chosen city.
Not to take the Throne as was often thought but to pay the price for mankind.
As Jesus gave to us all he had so that we would receive Salvation through the father.
Let us “Give” what we can to the Immigrants so their lives can be renewed through hope.
And that life can be Given through a new start and a new beginning .
Commentary on the sermon above.
The sermon was written and based on the third week in lent, from the readings supplied. I had read all fifteen readings supplied and those readings spoke to me.
I took the meanings from those readings and used modern everyday scenarios to affirm my message throughout the sermon.
Following Wilson’s practise of preaching from Page 1, when you think of what you are preparing for the week ahead from the gospel but I find that the scenarios set out in the bible speak to me.
I have the ability to transmit these to the congregation, giving them a modern theme that everyone can understand.
Preaching is a main “mark” of every church service.
It allows God’s message to be transmitted through the preacher and in turn allows the preacher to deliver his message to all, intensifying the faith in all present, bring them closer to their Lord.
One of the hardest things I would say was picking the right reading to use, I find that the passages speak to me.
This allows me time to go over the themes as I prepare before I actually write the and I use various resources to help me to draw out the hidden message contained therein.
Reading commentaries help enormously in defining what is actually being said in the passages and how these can be applied in an everyday theme, or with a timeless theme.
With the Lent passages, we know historically that Lent was a time to Abstain, but in a modern time and in our faith, within our beliefs as Protestants.
We apply this in another way and Give rather than do without. What I mean is I would gladly do without but give to another person less fortunate than myself.
Another difficult thing I found is actually defining what meaning you draw out from the passage picked and read because, with some serious thought, many meanings could be interpreted from the same passage.
More so when reading parables, like the barren fig tree, if you give it a quick glance, it is just a tree not producing fruit and is being given more time to see if it does.
If you read it and think about it as I did, then this tree could be a person who only needs a second chance in life.
Given proper care and being nurtured and encouraged, not simply being cut down and thrown on the rubbish heap.
Or as a person being encouraged to becoming an asset and contributing to society.
Delivering what you are trying to transmit can be a big problem.
As in getting it over with your choice of words of course as the preacher you know what you are trying to say.
At the same time, you try to limit your translation of the passage so that you do not over speak and the congregation don’t become lost in the way you emphasise key issues thus your sermon does not start and finish without delivering a sound message.
In relation to your passages and the theme continues throughout the sermon providing a sound nature of the theme.
In different ways so that the congregation can easily interpret the message you are delivering to them and that you have successfully bridged all gaps behind the core message and you emphasise in your message of how God shoulders the sin of the world
And how God speaks to us through Christ and ultimately through the preacher, better enabling us to bring the congregation closer to God.
Then once we have organised many points and parts of which we wish to state.
We will then sit down and begin to write our sermon, and of course we all have our own styles.
The language we speak, the way we add dynamics to the sentences to emphasise a word or highlight a sentence can be often transmitted in the tone of your voice.
Personalising at certain points and using images to transmit that message more clearly.
I have used in the past slides on a flat screen to intensify my message as if to paint a picture to make it easier to be understood.
Also using hymns or psalm in conjunction with the sermon and sometimes halfway through it.
I tell my story with the hope of making my sermon better understood.
And the conclusion relating the story and the text used to bring together the core message.
Avoiding at all costs leaving the congregation with a question in their mind or a quote from somewhere else of which may divert the train of thought from the core message.
Sermon based on Third Sunday in Lent 2016. Isaiah 55:1-9, 1Corinthians10:1-13, Luke13:1-9. NRSV.
The biography has been removed, The above Sermon and Commentary is the sole work and property of the author and has been submitted to Aberdeen University 2016.