Reflection for Monday 11th July 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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I was very interested to read Sajid Javid’s account of his resignation and what had put the thought into his mind. It came, I understand, whilst listening to a sermon at a prayer breakfast event at Parliament, and the sermon was on the importance of integrity in public life. And God’s Word spoke to him, and he acted on that which he heard. So those of us who pray for our leaders and those in authority, we can be thankful that our prayers have been answered, that God’s word spoke. Now, Sajid Javid is a non-practising Muslim by faith. However, his wife is described as a churchgoing Christian; not just a Christian, but a churchgoing Christian! And he has admitted that the only faith practised in their household is Christian. And so we pray that the witness of a faithful Christian wife, as the Scripture says, will be doing its work in the life of Sajid Javid and his responsibilities in government.

Our reading is about faith in family life. It’s from Matthew Chapter ten, beginning at verse 34. (NIV)

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

So families can be a place where we learn faith and share faith and support each other in faith and bring each other to faith. This is certainly true for me as my elder sister’s Christian witness and encouragement to me brought me to a place of faith. But, families can also be places where there is tension over faith. Sometimes our faith is undermined by our family commitments, by the values that our families have that we perhaps own just out of inheritance. Jesus says here that our priority as Christians is first to follow Jesus and then to our families. And we pray, don’t we, that those two aims following Jesus and looking after our family might be the same. But if push comes to shove, when the chips are down, (whatever metaphor you want to use), Jesus comes first.

Jesus doesn’t necessarily come to bring peace in our lives. I hope you enjoy a peaceful life. I hope you have significant relationships around you, as do I. I have relationships that are supportive and encouraging in my life and in my faith. I hope you also have some degree of comfort. However, this text reminds us that these are not given. These are not to be promised. Because our peace will be compromised, if we follow Jesus Christ, it will bring us into places of conflict. As we seek to prioritize our faith and the values that that faith brings as we encounter those, those even in our own families, who do not wish to hold those values.

But Jesus encourages us. It is not all bad. Even if we were to lose our life in this world, we will find it in following Jesus Christ. verse 39. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life, for my sake will find us. Find it?

Help us, Lord Jesus, to put our lives into the perspective of our faith and the faith in the cross. We thank you for our families. And we thank you for the privilege of family life and love and friendship. But help us to remember, Lord, that our first priority and loyalty is to you and to all that you call us to be as children of God. Amen.

Gracious Father,

by the obedience of Jesus

you brought salvation to our wayward world:

draw us into harmony with your will,

that we may find all things restored in him,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Reflection for Monday 27th June 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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An important question for many people is, “Is there life after death?” A more important question for us today, we who are alive, is, “Is there life before death?” Does death dominate so much that there is no life? Our reading is from Matthew Chapter 8v18-22.

Matthew 8:18-22 New International Version

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

The implication here is not that the disciple’s father was already dead, but actually, he was still alive, and the disciple was seeking permission from Jesus that he might go home and look after him and be with his father until he died; until he had that freedom. Jesus is not saying here that family is not important. There are many places in the Scripture where we can see that honoring our mothers and fathers is a command from God. But there are some times when one generation can trap another. Surely we who have children want them to flourish, don’t we? We want them to have freedom. Parenting always means letting go; constantly letting go. And that doesn’t end. We want children to enjoy their freedom, perhaps freedom that we didn’t have from our parents. Of course, we want them to be in touch, we want them to have some family responsibility, but we also want them to have freedom.

But we can also be trapped by our own expectations as we get older but as we get older Jesus still calls us. There is no retirement from following Jesus Christ. We read the story in the scriptures of Simeon and Anna in the temple, very old people waiting and still serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are called to follow Jesus, renewed in our energy and youth so that we can be followers of Jesus today.

I’m going to finish by reading a few verses from Psalm 104 where God promises to renew our strength that we may follow Him,

Psalm 103

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Heavenly Father, give us the wings of Eagles today to soar above our daily problems and to have in our minds and in our spirits that youth that follows Jesus Christ as we did the first day you call us. Amen.

Faithful Creator,

whose mercy never fails:

deepen our faithfulness to you

and to your living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 13th June 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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Hello. I wonder if you have fast reactions. Are you very good at getting back a retort when somebody says something or are you good at physically reacting? Our immediate reaction often reveals our inner nature. They reveal what we’re really like underneath. And of course, that sometimes can be a bit embarrassing. Jesus teaches about how Christians should react.

Matthew 5:38-42 New International Version

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In Child development, human development, there is a stage when the part of the brain, the very primitive part of the brain, the amygdala, starts being taught by a developing part of the brain, the frontal cortex. So the amygdala is that fight and flight part of our brain that helps us importantly to protect ourselves against attack. But the frontal cortex controls the information that comes from the amygdala and our response. So it says, actually, no, that’s not something to be frightened of.

And we learn as we get older and we try and help our children to understand that the amygdala cannot rule our lives. Well, what is our response to threat? How does our frontal cortex help us to comprehend the information that we see with our eyes and ears when we are confronted with evil? What do we do when we are under physical attack? When we are on legal attack, when we are under abuse, when someone wants to borrow something from us or is begging from us. Well, Jesus teaches in each of these situations in Matthew five, what we should do, and that is to be generous. Often these are teachings which are incredibly challenging for us, and I’m not sure that Jesus is saying that every time that we’re facing these situations, we should always do these things. But certainly those of us who call ourselves Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, and as the Holy Spirit develops in us, that image of God, the broken image that was broken by the fall and is now being restored by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are being changed to people whose immediate reactions are not always to fight back, not always to return evil for evil, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We are people who show the image of God. We become more like Jesus as the Holy Spirit works in us.

And that means that at times we will not resist the evil person, we will turn the other cheek, we will allow ourselves to be abused, we will give to those who want to borrow, we will give to those who beg from us. And those will be reactions that come naturally; naturally, from a generous heart. Those to whom much has been given, much will be expected. That is true Christian development. That is the mind of Christ, and that is the challenge for today, that we allow the Holy Spirit to do that. And maybe, today, God will give us an opportunity to put those words into action.

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
live in me from day to day.
By his love and power controlling
all I do and say.

Almighty God and everlasting God. You have given us your servants, grace, by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith that we may ever more be defended from all adversities through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 30th May 2022

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John 16:29-33

New International Version – UK

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’

31 ‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied. 32 ‘A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

Well, life can be very frustrating, can’t it? Lots of things can go wrong. And plans never seemed to go as we had hoped. In our reading from John’s Gospel today, we read of Jesus talking to his disciples, his disciples saying, We believe, and Jesus saying, ‘It’s great that you believe, but actually persecution is going to come and you will be scattered and you will leave me and run away. It’s going to be compromised. And then you too will be persecuted’. And Jesus says, ‘But don’t worry, I have overcome the world’.

As we think about all the different frustrations that we face, things that never go quite right, technology is one of them. Technology offers us, doesn’t it, lots of opportunities. I’ve just had a prayer meeting with two of my colleagues, but the internet didn’t work all the time. We missed some of the words and we were interrupted a little bit by my grandchildren as well. Lots of frustrations and the world sometimes just seems to win. Jesus says, Don’t worry, I have overcome the world. He’s even overcome all our technical internet difficulties as well.

That which is God’s will and God’s purpose is that which will win. And being part of God’s purpose and God’s will and God’s direction is the place that Jesus calls us to be; a place with the conqueror, the victor of the world. Even though the world interrupts us and frustrates us and undermines that which we’d hoped and planned, we follow and hold the hand of Jesus, who is the conqueror of the world, and we give thanks that we are conquerors with him.

Heavenly Father, help us this day to live with the discomfort of frustration and compromise in the world. But thank you that in you we have the victory over the world and over those frustrations and that one day all those will be wiped away as we will meet you face to face and all things are made new. Until then, Lord, grant us the gift of patience and of love, of hope and of faith. Amen.

Reflection for Friday 27th May 2022

Nigel Price

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Today I’m in our campervan at Bude for a couple of days relaxation. Fortunately the weather seems to be kind!

John 16.2023

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Reflection

At any time this is a difficult reading. Today it is particularly so. Today is a day for crying out “why!” Today we are still reeling from the news of 19 primary school children and two teachers killed in what ought to have been a place of safety. And worse, we have been here before. And we have heard people of all levels in America making the same cry, at a loss to understand why nothing has changed. So do we believe Jesus when he says that our pain will turn to joy? OK, but when? How much more pain must we bear before we see joy? And when will those things we ask of the Father, those things that we are promised will be given to us, when are they going to arrive? It’s rather like being in the NHS queue for a new hip or knee. The pain seems to be unending; and there is plenty more stuff to be angry within our world.

I don’t have the answer. How could I possibly think that I might second guess God? Which doesn’t help you – or me, so all I can say is that we have been here before. Just look in the Psalms where the anguish of the psalmist is clear to see. If we have even the slightest grain of faith, then we know that there will be joy after our pain. How long we have to wait, and how it will come is in God’s hands and all I can say is that if we have that tiny grain of faith we must know that praying and praising are all we can offer. It sounds small consolation, but in truth it means the whole world to us. So may God give us his comfort and his joy in this world and the next.

And so we pray the Collect:

The Collect (Additional)

Risen, ascended Lord
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen

Reflection for Monday 16th May 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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Hello. This is a true story of an absent-minded vicar who went to visit somebody riding his bike. He went in for a cup of tea. He left the bike outside. When he came out, he forgot that he’d cycled there and he walked all the way home. And when he got home, he tried to work out where his bike was. And then he remembered. So he rang up the parishioner and said, “Well, look, I’ll come next week. I don’t need it till then”. So he walked the next week to go and visit the parishioner, and he went in and the chap said, “Well, you come on in for a cup of tea. Vicar you’ve walked all this way”. So we came in and had a cup of tea, a nice chat, came out, forgot his bike and walked home again.

Well, we all have lapses of memory, don’t we? Things that we forget. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that they might remember what He taught them. Let me read to you the passage from John 14, verses 21 to 26.

John 14:21-26

New International Version

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Well, we all long to remember things, don’t we? There is a saint of forgotten things. Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. And the little prayer goes like this.

“Saint Anthony, please look around.
Something is lost and must be found”.

Well, we have more than Saint Anthony to help us. We have the Holy Spirit, who Jesus described as the advocate, the teacher and the reminder. The Advocate who argues for us and helps us understand, the teacher who explains those things which we need to understand, and the one who reminds us; reminds us of the lessons that we already know that need to come to the forefront of our minds. That great Holy Spirit, whom we will celebrate in a few weeks in Pentecost, is such a great asset to Christians. But of course, it’s only an asset, only a gift, only an advocate, a teacher and a reminder if we listen. So spending time each day, as you are now in this reflection, giving God time to speak, giving the Holy Spirit time to remind us and to teach us. Giving that world, which is so much of a rush a lesson to stand outside our lives and allow the Holy Spirit to speak.

So don’t rush as we listen to God. Let the Holy Spirit speak through the Scriptures, through our consciences, through our minds, through other people, as God, uses others to speak to us. And perhaps also why don’t you make notes? Make notes of the things that the Holy Spirit says to you, a little diary, so that as you reflect on them and look at them, you will be reminded of the things that Jesus has spoken. God, the Holy Spirit will use those memories and notes. Perhaps you could write a journal or write in the passage in your Bible? The scriptures themselves were those things written down that the Holy Spirit had revealed to the disciples. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that’s why we have them today. God still speaks today.

Holy Spirit. Help us to remember what we have been taught. And help us to put God’s word into action. Amen

Almighty God,

who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ

have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

grant that, as by your grace going before us

you put into our minds good desires,

so by your continual help

we may bring them to good effect;

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Monday 2nd May 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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When you are rushing to get somewhere, I wonder if you worry that when you get there there will be room for you? Maybe it’s a cinema or a theatre or any event. Maybe rushing to church because it’s going to be so full! Will your pew be taken? There is stress sometimes isn’t there? What’s going to happen when we get there? Well, Jesus wants to reassure his disciples about where he is going and where he is going to call them to go, which is heaven. So let me read this to you, John. 14, beginning at verse one.

I preached on this passage at my uncle’s funeral to much laughter and merriment because Uncle Fred was a painter and decorator. And when I was talking about many rooms, we were wondering whether he would get any rest in heaven. What’s your image of Jesus’ father’s house with many rooms or many mansions; some huge hotel with lots and lots of rooms, or some big stately home like Downton Abbey. What do you picture?

Well, you know, the detail isn’t so important, is it? How God going is to do this isn’t important. It’s the fact that there is a place prepared for us. Jesus is preparing a place for you and for me. And when we know that our place is reserved for us, then we find the peace that Jesus promised a little later on in the passage, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.”

The world needs peace because it’s striving for so much. And our troubled hearts need to find that peace which can only be found in Jesus Christ. When we think about what is happening in Ukraine and closer to home. What we really need are people who are at peace because they know where they are and they know where they’re going. And those people of peace, you and me, can start to bring peace in the world. So how do we find it? We find it by accepting the peace which Jesus gives. And we find the way to that peace and a way to that place in Jesus. Jesus. The way the truth and the life.

Thank you, Jesus. That you have gone to prepare a place for us. Help us to relax, to know that you have done that work. And in that peace that we find, may we share it with others? Amen.

Almighty Father,

who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples

with the sight of the risen Lord:

give us such knowledge of his presence with us,

that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life

and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reflection for Monday 4th April 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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Good morning. I heard a story about a wartime incident that happened when a formidable French lady was being interviewed by the Gestapo. She was led into a room, sat down opposite a desk and her two interrogators who had this big spotlight focused on her in order to intimidate her. She sat down and looked at them and said, “Turn that thing off. How do you expect me to answer questions with that in my eyes?” And they duly turned it off, having been intimidated by her.

Well, the spotlight in today’s Bible reading is on a woman caught in adultery and then upon Jesus as the questions are asked of him. But then the spotlight turns to the questioners.

John 8

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered round him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said.

‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

(NIV)

There are times when we want to ask God lots of questions; asking, asking, asking, and there just doesn’t seem to be a reply. He doesn’t give us an answer. And the question you have to ask of unanswered prayers and unanswered questions is, “Is God just ignoring us? Why is there this silence? What is God thinking?”

And as Jesus is writing in the sand, I guess the woman and the teachers of the law and all who are watching this are wondering, “What is he thinking in this silence?” Well, certainly he is not thinking about condemnation. He doesn’t condemn the woman, and actually, neither does he condemn the questioners. He just asked them a question.

You know, perhaps we shouldn’t be so keen to ask God questions, because instead of the spotlight being upon God who is in the dock with our questions, the spotlight turns onto us. Are you ready for that, to be in the spotlight, to have that bright light shine upon us? Job, in the Old Testament, questions God again and again. In fact, he tries not to, but eventually, he does, and God speaks back to him. Job 38 v3 “Brace yourself like a man and I will question you, (Job) and you shall answer me”. Job 38, read the chapter to see more.

So we pray, don’t we, that God will be gentle with us in our questions and our doubts. And we ask that God will also help us to be gentle with each other and gentle with ourselves. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 21st March 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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Good morning. I wonder what the most outlandish reaction to a sermon you might have experienced. Maybe somebody walked out or shouted. Maybe somebody snored or just got angry. Or maybe somebody felt guilty having listened to a sermon. There is a story about a family that is discussing a very poor sermon, apparently, over the Sunday lunch table. And the little boy chirped up after the parents had been moaning for so much and said, “Well, what do you expect for a pound?”. Which is all he saw they put into the plate. Well, let’s read a reaction to Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth. Look 4 verse 24.

So this has to be probably the most drastic recorded reaction to a sermon. And the problem is that Jesus, in his sermon, identifies the people of Nazareth with the people whom God neglected. There were many widows in Israel, yet Elijah is sent to one outside Israel to provide for her and for him. There were many people suffering from leprosy in Israel and yet Elisha is allowed to cleanse Naaman, who is a Syrian, someone outside Israel. Those who reject the prophets and Jesus are the ones who go without the benefits of God’s blessing. And this rather annoys the home crowd, the people of Nazareth, and they take him to the top of a hill to throw him off, ready, probably to stone him. They throw him down a cliff and then drop stones on him. But Jesus’ time hasn’t come and he stops and walks through the people.

I wonder if you’ve ever encountered somebody with that presence, a presence that stills others’ anger and comments, that seems to protect them. Then you recognize that in this person is something more than human. When we recognize the presence of God. Perhaps we could try to explain this in earthly terms. We could just say that this person had a great presence in himself; that Jesus was just so respected or so awesome as an individual. But we who understand the spiritual through the spirit, recognize that there is something more here, as Jesus said, “Something greater than Solomon is here” amongst them. The problem is the people of Nazareth, whilst recognizing Jesus’ authority and power to walk through without harming him, did not recognize him with the authority and power of God. Sometimes it’s not easy to spot, especially in those who come from our own hometown, from our family.

Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth didn’t get it. Jesus’ family sometimes didn’t get it. So how are we to get it? How are we to recognize this awesome power of Jesus, that there’s something other than just a human being here. Well, I suppose there are many ways we can encounter Jesus like that in our lives. But one of the ways that we can proactively find that presence of Jesus is in quietness and prayer and stillness. That doesn’t mean to say that Jesus isn’t with us in the storms as well. But if we want to find him and recognize him today, then a few moments of quiet and stillness will be the context in which he may reveal himself in some new way to us. And then, when we have discovered the power of Jesus with us, then we can go out from that place of stillness into the busy world. With that same power and that same presence to walk through those who are angry with us, to be protected by the presence of Jesus and the power of Jesus.

Heavenly Father, help us to find that place of peace and help us to be your prophets in the world, to speak your word and be protected by you. Amen.

Our Collect for this day. A day when we remember Thomas Cranmer, Reformation Martyr, for whom we give thanks for the prayer book that we use. And one who stood up for Jesus and his faith.

Eternal God. Give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for Monday 7th March 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

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One of the questions people often ask me is about their assurance of their own salvation. They hope that they are saved, but they’re not sure. They doubt whether or not they’re going to heaven, and there should be no doubt for the Christian. And this passage that we read today is the assurance of our salvation. It’s proof that we are saved. It’s from Matthew. Twenty five and it’s the story of the sheep and the goats.

Matthew twenty five, thirty one to the end, (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

So this passage answers your question, “Are you saved?” Now we need to remember, don’t we, that the scriptures tell us that we’re not saved by works; we’re not saved by doing all these good things. We don’t earn our place in heaven. We have been given our place in heaven through Christ’s death on the cross. But that same faith that we put into our salvation through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross is that same faith that works in us to produce the good works. James writes in his letter that “faith without works is dead”. And if we have faith in Jesus, then it will naturally work out in our lives. The Holy Spirit within us will be changing us and leading us and guiding us and equipping us.

So look at the good works that you do, not for pride. We’re not to write down a list and shout it from the rooftops, but maybe privately sit down as part of this meditation and write down those things that you do and you’re involved with, which are good works, which are growing the kingdom of God, which are loving our neighbour, which are serving those around us. Write them down, not for pride, but for proof. Proof that God knows you; that Jesus is working through you. To say “thank you, Lord, that you are working in me, that you know me”.

There are these horrible words in that parable where the Lord says to those who are rejected, “I never knew you”. Let’s give thanks that God does know us because he is working through us and he will recognize us and welcome us into his kingdom. And when we get there, we will see even more works that we’ve been involved with and works that we have done that we didn’t even know, and they will be revealed to us.

Paul writes that there are good works prepared in advance for us to walk in. They are today to be part of what God is doing; part of our Lord’s work. May we find those good works and walk in them. And may we give thanks that the Lord knows us and that we are saved. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son, Jesus Christ, fasted 40 days in the wilderness and was tempted as we are yet without sin. Give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your spirit and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.