This sermon was given by our Reader Christine at the 8.00am and 11.15am services on Sunday 8 April.
Last week was a mixture of emotions; joy, because our Lord had risen and sadness because it was Rev. Caroline’s last service with us, both life changing events for different people.
Jesus’ resurrection changed the life of many people, ours included, but especially the Apostles and those who witnessed the events that led up to it.
Rev. Caroline is beginning another step on her faith journey as she seeks to discern where God wants her to lead his people and serve him.
As we journey through life, we meet many people and I remember the first experience I had of someone I had seen as a friend/mentor moving on to another job when I was 16.
I had begun work at 15 in a typing pool. For those of you young enough not to know what that is – it’s usually an office or floor made up of just typists, but as a new recruit one of the ladies I met took me under her wing. Training mentors were not around then, just caring people who automatically would guide new staff.
Anyway, the day came when she told me she was moving on to another position and I remember being extremely sad and, of course, my parents could tell. So, my dad sat me down and explained how people would move on and through my life and how everyone I met would leave some sort of mark on my life, which I think is very true.
Rev. Caroline has, I’m sure, has left her mark on all our lives, but Jesus left us something entirely different. He left us a way of life, examples of forgiveness, healing, love and through the Holy Spirit a path to God in the sure hope that he will be by our side throughout our life and waiting for us.
In our first reading, we have heard how people began to share their wealth by giving it to the Apostles to share it out among those who needed it most. People who before Jesus’ resurrection probably stood on the fringe of his circle, but through the resurrection had come to faith and believed in him.
I know there are still many places where sharing of wealth/goods does not happen and people are suffering because of it, but there are also many individuals and organisation around the world who are working hard to relieve some of the suffering and who are helping to educate those in need about how to support themselves and others.
Even here in our own community, there are individuals, children who try to help the more vulnerable as Rev. Deborah and I found out when we visited Parrenthorn before Easter.
We were teaching some Y7’s about the Stations of the Cross and Rev. Deborah was explaining about ‘mercy’. She explained how acts of kindness could help people who are suffering and asked the pupils if someone had shown kindness to them or if they had shown it to others. At first, the pupils were a little hesitant in their replies and then slowly came a few answers. One pupil told how he had bought food and drink for a homeless man in Prestwich with his own money, another told how he had given his money to a homeless man and another who told us how he had helped a friend. Little acts of kindness, but in these we can see the Holy Spirit at work and pray the light continues to grow in them so they too will develop their faith.
The Apostles had seen Jesus, walked alongside him, touched him, heard his teachings, watched his healing touch and their mission now was to continue that way of life and to continue Jesus’ mission. They knew this mission was not going to be easy there were many places in need of God’s light, as there are today, but by walking in the light, the way Jesus had led them they would have fellowship with God, his Son and one another. Their faith was strong and they had the light of God in them, even Thomas. He needed proof, but was willing and able to walk in the light and follow the way of life Jesus had taught him.
I’m sure there are still many Thomas’ who feel the need for evidence and continue to search for it and we pray the Holy Spirit will breathe on them and guide them towards the light, but those who listened to the Apostles many years ago opened their ears. They heard the words of forgiveness, saw the healing of the Apostles, the love they shared and they too began to walk in the light and let it shine in them through their actions.
Our mission today, is to receive the light that has been passed on to us and reflect it to others, as Margaret Silf says, “in the language and the images of our own times and of our own generation’s experience of the world”.
Jesus’ way of life is not an easy one to follow. We all have obstacles that seem to come when we least expect them, forgiveness is not always easy when we’ve been badly hurt, love can be testing, but by prayer and fellowship with each other, God and his Son Jesus Christ we can follow Jesus. We can reflect the light that we have received through the Holy Spirit and share it with others. We can carry on the mission that Jesus gave to us and follow the way of life he taught us.
Let us pray:
O God you are the light of the minds that know you,
The life of the souls that love you,
and the strength of the wills that serve you:
Help us to know you that we may truly love you
and so to love you that we may fully serve you
whom to serve is perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.