Hello everyone. On Sunday November 4th at Wesley Chapel our minister Trevor Smith led our communion service. The hymn before communion is a favourite of mine ‘Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us’; incidentally Cathy, my younger daughter loves that hymn too. The gospel reading was Mark 12v28-34 and the sermon was based on that passage.
Trevor talked of his work placement in Manchester as he was training to become a Methodist minister which was with the hospital chaplain. One week was spent working as an auxiliary nurse at the chaplain’s suggestion; something he would have liked to do. Trevor worked on the male orthopaedic ward and whilst he was there a confused elderly man, Walter was admitted in pain. There was some improvement over the week, although he would call Trevor, Frank; he was living more in his time as a musical hall performer on tour. Trevor had to keep trying to see if he were becoming less confused by asking him who he was and why he was there.
A lawyer came to ask Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. He knew all about the law but he was aware of the problems which the law did not solve. The 10 commandments were not so simple to follow; society found the simple rules difficult to keep, perhaps 8/10 was a good score! Trevor thinks that English Law depends on Case Law; e.g. if John Johnson committed a crime in 1912 and someone committed the same crime in 2012 then it would be judged in the same way. Jewish law was based on ‘dos and don’ts’ and amounted to 600+ different regulations to be obeyed and sometimes obeying one law meant that another law was being broken! He gave the example of honouring your father and your mother could be very costly, not just in cash terms but often in time; working harder and harder and longer hours to meet the commitments and if that led to working 7 days a week, then you would be breaking the commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy! Lawyers would argue endlessly about the rules and regulations and that was probably why the lawyer asked which commandments were the most important. Jesus summed it up beautifully when he said Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself and the lawyer recognised that he had spoken well. That seems to make it simpler to follow or does it? How do we respond to Jesus’ summary? Trevor reminded us that eternal life was here and now not just in the future.
He challenged us about how we love our neighbour. Anyone who has brought up children will recognise that telling a child not to do something instantly makes it more desirable to do. Jesus on the other hand left no boundaries; it was open ended. He called us to love God first. The Baptism service has apparently undergone a transformation in its wording; the parents had to promise to bring the child up in a Christian way but now children are baptised simply because God loves them and it is not dependent on what we as parents or God parents do. God offers free unmerited love. God and Jesus love us, recognising our flawed natures and our disobedience, but He wants us to help us strive to be more obedient. God loves us so much that he did not remain remote from us, but came as Emmanuel, God with us, to show us how much he loves and cares for us and forgives us. We love God in response to his love for us. It is not easy to say God loves us when things are not going right; we feel if God loved us that would not happen to us. However God does love us; nothing can separate us from the love of God; through all our difficulties we can be more than conquerors through God’s love. God supports and sustains us just as parents do. If we cannot love our neighbour we cannot love God. We need to recognise what God went through to help us. Crime victims cannot always forgive nor can civilian victims of war. Those whose lives are cut short by physical or mental injury find it hard to forgive their combatants; they hurt so much they cannot forgive or forget. Jesus forgave those who murdered him and offered Paradise to thief hanging at his side.
Trevor then challenged us when he told us that we too are called to love others as Jesus loves us. We are called to see each person as man or woman or child for whom Christ died. God loved and forgave us and we can do no more than love in the same way. Trevor concluded the sermon by asking God to help us live in His love and recognise how much you love us; help us to love those we meet, our neighbours in the same way.
I found his service encouraging and inspiring.