|Pen and Ink Reflections||
“Follow me” - that is the challenge of today’s gospel. We need to understand what it means for us to hear those words for ourselves. Jesus was of course a most astute judge of personality and in this passage he actually provides an example of each of the main ways in which human beings can be drawn away from the commitment to follow. Each of us has, at the level of our ego, a key defence mechanism, adopted in early childhood that keeps us safe. It is not a bad thing. It gets us through our day. But in terms of the invitation to follow, to go more deeply, to become more fully alive, that defence mechanism can stand in our way. We see it at work in the conversations Jesus has in our reading today with three would-be followers.
First of all, may we say thankyou for this opportunity of sharing with you. It is actually unusual for us to preach together – and rest assured this does not mean a sermon of twice the usual length! – but we felt it was appropriate to do so in the light of our reading from Galatians today, which includes that amazing declaration of Saint Paul that, among other human differences, ‘there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.’ A good deal of our ministry, individually and together, has been seeking to share this central reality of our Faith, that ‘in Christ’ all things are made whole and flourish to their full potential. In a world so sadly divided by competition, by racism, sexism and ‘isms’ of all kinds, this is such vital ‘good news’ we have to share as Christians, beginning with the journey of wholeness we can find ourselves in Christ. In a few minutes, we want to share just three ways in which this is taking place in Toowoomba. Before we share something of Toowoomba however, let us look at our Gospel story today. For you have certainly found your visiting preachers a rip-roaring tale haven’t you?!
Come as you are; that’s how I love you;
Come as you are, trust me again.
Nothing can change the love that I bear you;
all will be well, just come as you are.
- the words of our opening song today express the heart of our God and our Faith: that love is what truly matters, for this is the heart of God, and true Faith; not law, or conventional morality, nor who we are, or what we have, nor who or what we know, nor what we have done, or not done, nor what race, face, space, colour, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, politics, taste in music, ability to sing and dance, food allergies, beauty, quirks, height, width, shoe size, dress size, hat size, nor anything else we may have. Honestly! It really does not matter to God: the God of Jesus, the God of inexhaustible and unconditional love. Just ‘Come as you are; that’s how I love you.’ Do we believe that? Do we really believe that? For it makes all the difference, to us and to others, whether we really do. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that the very future of our church and our world depends on whether we do. Will we shape our lives, our church and world on this amazing grace of God’s hospitality? Or will we settle for loving ourselves and others in ways which do not reflect God’s love for us and for all of God’s Creation?...