Greetings in Jesus’ name!
We welcome our preacher, Revd Shaun Cozett, who trained as an environmental scientist and is now based at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. He has had a long involvement in Green Anglicans and serves on the board of the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI).
Please find the order of service and text of the sermon below.
An audio version is available too.
Sermon: Revd Shaun Cozett
Matthew 18:21: “Then Peter came and said to Him “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?”
Let us pray
Lord God will Thou so uphold me that I may uplift Thee. Amen
Good morning and thank you to Fr Andrew for inviting me to be the preacher for this morning, I take it as a great honor to be able to speak to you all the way in Durban from the Diocese of Cape Town
Our Gospel this morning follows on from last week’s text. Last week we heard Jesus speaking to the disciples and speaking to them in particular about how the church needs to deal with someone who has stepped out of line. Jesus spoke to them about what life in this new community of faith should be like, this community that they are to start.
And today emanating from that discussion we have Peter turning to Jesus saying but:
What about me?
What if somebody wrongs me?
Am I also supposed to play long to forgive?
Jesus goes on to say that “You forgive not seven times but 70 x 7”
Over the past few months lockdown has taught us an important lesson about the church, that the church isn’t just about me and my faith and my God. I do not know about you but I certainly have missed being able to fellowship with those we usually have services with, I’ve missed the fellowship , I’ve missed drinking tea after church, I have missed doing visitations, I’ve missed popping in at Bible studies , I’ve missed the interaction that we usually have as the church.
In his book Life Together Dietrich tells us that the church is about our relationship with God, but not just a personal relationship, it is also about our journey together as a community and out of our building relationship with each other, we understand our relationship with God. It is about a life together.
St Peter’s question today about what do I do when someone sins against me, is also a question about our life together and Jesus offers an answer that says we don’t just write each other off. We find a way of journeying together and in that journey together we find each other, we find the meaning of church and we find out for ourselves who God is. So we heard in last week’s conversation what if the church has been wronged and this week’s conversation what if I’ve been wronged. But there must surely be a third question that arises from our Season of Creation conversations, there must surely be a question of creation saying “What if I’ve been wronged?”
“What if creation itself has been wronged?”
I’m reminded this morning of a 17th century rhyme that goes something like this “The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the commons but leaves the greater villain lose who steals the commons from the goose”.
So much of what we’ve learned about this virus that has brought the world to a standstill, is that the cause of the virus is our modern day lives and our livelihoods. Reality is that the earth does not have the ability to sustain the way that we’ve been living, that the Earth does not have the ability to sustain our need for meat and a meat-based diet. The Earth does not have the ability to sustain the way that we travel and our need to consume fossil fuels, the Earth does not have the ability to deal with our constant need for land and for more private property, so the truth is, in years to come viruses of this nature will become far more prevalent and it will be because of the way that we live.
What if the earth itself has been wronged?
What if the earth has been wronged what do we do?
Last week Jesus said that there needs to be a process of forgiveness for those have wronged the church, those who have wronged the community of faith. This week Jesus says to Peter that there needs to be a process of forgiveness for those who have wronged us, maybe we should also be looking at the process of forgiveness for us, for people as we have wronged the earth, as we have wronged God’s creation, as we have sought our own rights, our own happiness over those of the Earth. The story of creation tells us that God first created the perfect habitat and then God created humankind to dwell in it, we were never meant to live apart from creation, we were always meant to be dependent on creation.
The Season of Creation is another opportunity for us to think about how we live as human beings. It is another opportunity for us as Christians to have a fuller understanding of the gospel and that all important verse John 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that He sent His son (in Greek), God so loved the Kosmos ,God so loved all of the created order, that He sent His son. May this be an opportunity for us to think about our understanding of
What it means to be connected to the community of faith?
What it means to be connected to each other?
What it means to be connected to God?
What it means for us to be connected to God’s creation?
May this time that we spend apart, the time that we are locked up with our loved ones be an opportunity for us to have a greater yearning to care for what God has created and to commit ourselves afresh to protecting what God has created and in particular what God has created for us, to sustain us, and as we think about returning to worship in weeks to come, as we consider the great joy of being able to worship with one another again and be reunited with those we haven’t seen for months, may we also think about our responsibility towards caring for God’s creation and how emanating from our time away from all that we have known and all that we’ve become accustomed to, our time also away from that may call us to a greater love and the greatest care for God’s creation.
God’s creation has been wronged and what are we going to do about it?
During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426