Preached on Sunday, 06.11.16 By the Reverend Dr. David Sinclair In what tense do you live? Our readings this morning offer us a choice of tenses, all of which can grab our attention – even perhaps our loyalty. Haggai, whose words (it must be said) do not often detain us, speaks of the past: … More God is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive
How keen are you on law? Let me put that another way: are you a ‘letter of the law’ person, or are you a ‘spirit of the law’ person? Or: how often do you read the small print of a contract? Do you see regulations and rules as enabling or as debilitating? Do they smooth the way, or do they get in the way? Do you think of codes of conduct, or legal stipulations, as ‘necessary safeguards’ or as ‘unnecessary red tape’. Are you a stickler for the rules, or a bender of the boundaries? And how are you when it comes to the idea of the law requiring to be interpreted? Would you see that as a recognition that principles have to be applied, but that the application will be influenced by the context? Or would you take the view that if a law requires to be interpreted, it must be a badly drafted law? … More I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people
The church does not live in exile in a strange and hostile land. The church lives and breathes to give thanks to God for the divine love which is for all people, whether or not they feel the need to give thanks themselves, whether or not they feel the need even occasionally to go to church to do it. Jeremiah speaks to us when he writes to those in Babylon: settle down, join in the life of the world, put down roots, make your place and your home with those by whom God has surrounded you. Work for their welfare, not just your own; give thanks for their blessings, not just your own; think of healing as communal, not only individual. You are all in this together, because God has put you here together. So don’t think of yourselves as ‘different’ or ‘special’ or ‘especially loved’; praise the God who loves you all, cares for you all, and the one who works through you for the welfare of all the city, so that through you the city of God may yet be built and revealed in all God’s glory. … More Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile
Our biblical readings may not have obvious harvest references in them, but we can have a look; we can look for clues about how we approach and understand harvests. Look first at the reading from Lamentations; look there, and you find the talk is of patience – of waiting for the Lord to produce the harvest. It is therefore about trust. Harvests are all about trust. Producing a harvest involves work and skill and dedication – but above all it needs patience and trust. You need to wait, and let the harvest grow – dig, pick, crop too early, and all will be lost. In other words, if you run out of trust and start poking around, there will be no harvest at all. … More We have done only what we ought to have done!
But it’s worth thinking a bit more about this idea of living under siege; it’s worth remembering that cities have endured this piece of terrifying, dehumanising inhumanity throughout the history of what we like to call humanity. Think of Troy according to Homer, think of Stirling before Bannockburn, think of Vienna, think of Paris and its Commune, think of Leningrad, think in recent years of Homs, or of Fallujah, or – as we speak – of Aleppo. … More City under Siege