Sunday Sermon by Stuart Talbot, 15 November 2020

Greetings in Jesus’ name on this Mission Sunday!

Please find the text of the sermon below.

An audio version is available.

Service

An outline of the service followed is given below.

Please note: We have resumed Sunday services at 7.30 and 9.15 in the church.

Service Outline  7.30 and 9.15

INTROIT:  O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness CP 89

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME

COLLECT: Generous God,

you endowed us with the gifts for the good of creation:

make us trustworthy in all things,

that we may share with Christ

the work of your kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and ever. Amen.

FIRST READING: Judges 4: 1-7

PSALM: 90:1-12

GRADUAL: Let all the world in every corner sing CP 497

GOSPEL: Matthew 25: 14-30

CREED: Apostles

OFFERTORY: Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father CP 453

1st EUCHARISTIC PRAYER

RECESSIONAL: Now thank we all our God CP 530.

Sermon Stuart Talbot  Mission Sunday   15 Nov 2020 “Now get up and Go into the city and you will be shown what to do” Act 9: 6 

Where have you seen those words. Yes, you’re right, right behind me in the church those are the words that are on the big stained-glass window at the East End of the church. I wonder how many of you when you used to be able to come into the church have ever been up to the front to look at them as you’ve come to the altar have you looked at that magnificent stained glass window have you even read what’s on it have you seen the detail that was put into that work of art .

It was as words that drew me to Saint Paul and to Saint Paul’s the church in the city. So, what do those words have to say to us today on mission Sunday.

Over the past two- or three-weeks during lockdown I’ve been involved in two incredibly significant conferences one was the Institute of urban ministries conference themed Do you see her  Taken from the LUKE 7 44  asking the question .Do we see her  the marginalized  and  do we see her  the Holy Spirit at work in our world and city .

The other was the national network of homelessness in South Africa and its annual conference both of these were held online .I was trying to help some homeless people and other folk get involved in the conference .At both of the conferences there was a challenge to imagine a different city, a new city, a different way of engaging.

Obviously we’ve all done that over this year 2020 which was supposed to be a year of clear vision and understanding, who we are and then all of a sudden in March, there was Covid .All of us have been looking at who we are ,and what we are, in the light of the pandemic. So, what has this taught us?

Well I looked at the gospel reading about the talents and wondered whether there wasn’t a new parable that could be written here. We all know this parable so well that we most probably don’t really want to hear it again. It also has a parallel parable in Luke’s gospel just before Jesus enters into Jerusalem Luke 19, so it seems like in both of these parables  going into the city is an important consequence of the parables so I’m going to give you a new  reading of the parable .

A new Parable

There was a big conference of bishops at you can call it wherever you want, Lambert or wherever and there were rumors of a global vaccine program that would end the grip of Covid  that has held  on our world .So the Bishop called together all the churches before she left and checked on what church facilities they had and then gave them tasks to do ,she delegated them work ,depending on what they could handle.

To the first group they had five buildings and the second group had two buildings and the third group had one building.

The first group took their five buildings and started immediately making them work five days a week so that they would have a service on Sunday and mission the rest of the time.

The second group although it was similar and smaller really got it and they also doubled their working value of their buildings.

The last group was extremely nervous of both of risk and of the Bishop, so they stopped everything they’d done they just pushed pause. They just didn’t want to do anything, they were afraid of Covid they were afraid of the Bishop, they were afraid of doing too much, they were afraid of doing too little.

Then the conference on Covid vaccine was over and the Bishop returned she was eager to see what had happened in that time so She called provincial missions conference .

The group that had five both buildings told this story about the program a mission that they had never seemed to stop their buildings were full of activities they kept having to look for extra space to work in. The Bishop was amazed “excellent work in your community, it’s amazing and you’ve worked well from now on you are our mission partners”

 The community  with two buildings were also amazed at what the 5 building guys had done but they were just as good they were bursting at the seams with activity they could also be proud of what their little had been used for and what they had had done for the world where they were.

The Bishop was pleased with them too and said to them that she was happy, and they too were mission partners.

The leadership from the one  small building were very very nervous about their presentation because they knew the Bishop was a tough person so they said that they had done nothing with their building .They kept their services going but that was all, they paid the assessment and the insurance and they told this  to the Bishop

The Bishop blew her MITRE, I mean top . She was furious if you knew that I  wanted to see the best use of your buildings ,why didn’t you at least rent it out and get some interest back at least.

So the Bishop said to the guys who had worked so hard with the five buildings  “you take over the small church work with it use it and the council members weren’t prepared to risk even the smallest to be partners in this mission, people who use their buildings well will be rewarded with burgeoning mission and a bustling community but people who don’t use their buildings well will lose their buildings ,lose their face in the community ,lose their credibility with the municipality, lose their credibility with the community and they will have to sacrifice their buildings for the other more community focused, more mission orientated ,more outward facing programs. “

 So, what does this tells us about the way that we should do mission and where we should be?

 We’ve been sent to go into the city very often the word associated with mission is going.

Jesus said go into the world, he said to  Saul /St Paul  Go into the city and  you will be told what to do , very often He says go, it is in the going that  people go together , when He says go he also seems to say don’t go alone .Much like Deborah had to encourage and stand alongside Barak in the in the Judges passage this morning ,when he was too frightened to go alone ,she said she would go with him .So I don’t think Jesus often wants us to go alone .

He wants us to go together, he wants us to go into the city together but what does he want us to do well you’ll have to wait to next week because next week’s gospel reading  is about what Jesus expects when we are in the city .Where and what we are expected to do ,where we are in serving the community ,to the best of our ability ,with what He has given us, what buildings He has given us, what talent He has given us, what skills He has given us, what people, mission partners , He has given us, so go into the city and you will be told what to do.

God will guide you, God will go with you but go with God into the city .God is already there waiting  for you.

 

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