Bishop’s sermon

5 FEBRUARY 2017

St Simon the Fisherman

Readings:- Is 58. 1-12; Ps. 112. 1-9;1Cor 2 . 1-16; Mtt. 5.13-20;

Prayer: Lord as we listen to your word this morning , stir up our hearts, motivate us anew with the things of God so that we be salt to the earth and light to the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Friends in Christ,

It is understood in our congregations that religious rites and ceremonies are a normal,and proper expression of faith. But these practices, according to Prophet Isaiah as expressed in the first reading, however, may become a convenient, inexpensive and empty substitute for more significant expressions of faith. There is indeed a need for us as it was for the people of Israel to assess the way we practise our faith and whether it bears fruits and glory to God. We have then to redefine the way we worship in terms grasping the inner meaning and requirements of these ceremonies.  It should  meet the advice that Prophet Micah offers us:

                He has showed you, O Man, what is good.

                And what does the Lord require of you?

                 To act justly and to love mercy

                  And to walk humbly with God”.

It therefore demands on us to be filled with a spirit that allows us to be compassionate and just. In the second reading from the Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians, we are called to be wise: meaning that we should be taught by the Holy Spirit and let the Cross of Christ inspire us. It implies that we should give ourselves to The Lord and to others through the will of God.

The Word of God read to us this morning challenges the way we live as Christians in this part of the world where we encounter people of other religious persuasions. It is in the midst of diversity that we are to shine as light to the world and give a meaning to our existence as salt gives taste to our food.

How are we then to respond to the  challenge that we face and how do we correct our behaviour if it is to honour the God we worship and the Name of the Lord which is above all names: Jesus.?

In ancient times, salt was regarded as good but in this modern age, because of widespread health problems relating to high blood pressure we try to eat it in reduced quantity. But Salt is indeed good as it preserves food and keeps it from spoiling. Salt was traded in caravans just as people traded gold and precious stones.  Today in the Gospel, Jesus says, that we his disciples, are the salt of the earth.(Mtt. 5.13) This is important to the world, since we bear in us abundance of  life that Jesus won for all mankind by his death and resurrection.

He also says that we are” light to the world” v14). Christ who has had a powerful impact on human civilisation remains a shining beacon for all people of all times. No world leader or founder of any religion has had this powerful impact as Jesus had. He has shared His light with us his disciples and asks us to be what what we are: the light of the world.

We are told to be salt to our world preserving it from spoiling because of greed, injustice, lust, preserving it from decaying because of dishonesty, disloyalty and disrespect. The recent decrees signed by The US President, Donald Trump in the past two weeks has been denounced because of disrespect towards refugees by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal church in these terms:

” We are concerned by the plight of refugees. The refugee settlement work is a ministry that we Anglican Christians in the US cherish as it is God’s work. We show to the world the face of God through the care and compassion in that work. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the US as they need our assistance. The position adopted by our new President does not reflect who we are as a nation or as a people of God.”

We are thus called to be salt in the world transforming it through Christian values such as sharing and decency. We are also called to be the light of the world, illuminating our homes and communities with truth, justice and peace guiding the world on the pathway Christ treaded on. Can we imagine the responsibility which is ours? We are not to show the light but we have to be the light. Can we for a minute assess the way we are at home, at work and in the community we live? Are we salt that preserves the values of the Gospel which are love, forgiveness, humility, generosity and graciousness. Are we the light that overcome darkness that creeps into our lives because of the prejudice and the  false perceptions we cultivate in our hearts  against others?

Let us listen to what Desmond a Tutu mentions in his book, “Crying in the wilderness” ” We are servants of the God who reigns and cares. He wants us to be the alternative society: where there is harshness and insensitivity, we must be compassionate and caring;

When people are statistics, we must show they count as being of immense value to God; where there is greediness and selfishness, we must be a sharing community now.”

Our being salt and light to the world must be our response to the particular needs of our time and the prevailing world events cries for works of justice more than anything else. We need to be the salt that preserves the world from getting more and more corrupt because of injustices and behaviours that harm others. Many round the world are hungry, homeless. What about our locality?Are people living in this area able to find opportunities that will enable them to live a decent life? Can we after five years as a community of faith in this locality be sensitive to the appeal of God as expressed through Prophet Isaiah, ” Share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless and clothe the naked”

One of our motivations to avail ourselves of the opportunity to build the church building in Bambous is one of giving a wider meaning to our presence in this part of our diocese. Yesterday, the different stakeholders of our diocese met at regional level so that we can take our church to be more and more a Welcoming, teaching and caring church. So, my appeal as your bishop this morning is to encourage all of you to listen to what God requires of you. It is our obligation to fight for those whose Human dignity is denied, who stand before the rest of humanity without protection, power and hope. In this region, social evils are present, are we waiting that they knock our own doors so that we react? It is our duty as salt and light of the world to establish a world order in which exploitation is replaced by equal sharing in the blessings of creation, a sharing which is based on the commandment of Jesus:

          “This is my command : that you love one another as I have loved you.”

As we serve the world as its salt and bear testimony to Christ, light of the world, we are called to make sacrifices and meet opposition. But if we are only doing God’s work , we should not loose courage and should rely on the power of the spirit.

And in his first epistle to the Corinthians( 2.5)read to us this morning, Paul wrote ” my speech, and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but of God’s power.” These words would certainly help us, I pray, to think afresh of our commitment to be salt and light to the world. Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing: we are sailing boats without wind, dry branches spread on the grounds. We cannot afford the luxury of letting God down because of our own interests. Do not be surprised: He has chosen you, he has chosen me, he has chosen us to be the light get of the world and salt to the earth. He is entrusting to each of us here a responsibility because he knows our potentials, our gifts and our love for Christ. So, let us honour the trust that God has put in us.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, help us as salt to the earth and light to the world to build the kingdom by serving others and thus honouring your Name which is above all Names. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Amen