Welcome to everyone worshipping with us today at St Matt's. This is our second Seniors Sunday and unfortunately again we are unable to have the organ as originally planned. I am very sorry about this but we have been thwarted again by unforeseen circumstances. Andy was to have played but must take paid employment where and when he can (this time in Athens!) so he has again supplied us with pre-prepared music and lyrics. It was pretty good last time so no doubt we will worship well this time too! And in the end, it's where are hearts are focussed not how our music sounds . . .
This week in Ireland chronicled a staggering shift in the traditional understanding of marriage. Maybe this will mark the major paradigm shift that changed human history forever. Let me just reiterate that there is nothing in scripture that affirms any other form of marriage than that between a man and a woman.
In this space I want to make two comments in brief response. First and by far the most important issue is that God loves everyone and makes the invitation, through Jesus' death on the cross as payment for all our sins, for everyone to belong to His family. As ambassadors for Christ, we must therefore also make that invitation possible, welcoming and heard. Any conviction of sin and subsequent transformation is the job of the Holy Spirit - not ours. We are all called in the life of discipleship to "deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus", and the challenges, (of what we must "die to"), will be different for each of us. If we could find a way to walk alongside any and every variety of Jesus followers without condemnation, then we would indeed be Good News to our companions on "The Way".
Secondly, we are actually living amidst compromised values all the time. The truth is we already live amongst people with massively different understandings of marriage and many other things. We must learn how to be salt and light without becoming "wowsers" or just plain irrelevant. I must admit that one of my initial feelings was to be dismayed that here was another issue in which I may soon be in the minority over, if I'm not already! I felt alienated, but once I could identify that was how I was feeling, I was reminded of the following scripture from the Apostle Peter.
1 Peter 2:11-15 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (12) Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (13) Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, (14) or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (15) For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish.
The answer for us lies in doing good, and keep doing good. Let our good works, and our control of our own sinful desires be the way that light shines in the darkness.
God bless, Ian.