3 before Advent

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Sermon: 

In discussion with some friends about the state of the world, we began a discussion on what we see, hear and read in the news. It quickly became apparent that each of us had different ideas about what ‘Good News’ means; depending on our religious or political stance and what was important for us in life. This conversation came back to me as I read today’s gospel or ‘good news’ reading. After hearing that John the Baptist has been arrested, Jesus doesn’t hide away in fear, instead he journeys to Galilee to proclaim the good news of the gospel. But what is that good news?

The good news is this, that through the ministry of Jesus, it is evident that each one of us is loved by God and that if we turn and face God and ask for God’s forgiveness then we are forgiven.

God provides us with all we need to live in terms of his creation and an abundance of food and water. He provides healing and wholeness and guides us to save those who are oppressed, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, naked or sick. These are not material things but based on relationship and community and living out the commandment of loving your neighbour as yourself. Jesus doesn’t just preach these ideas; he lives them out with compassion and understanding and he knows that for this to work it needs others to join him and share the responsibility of proclaiming the good news. That is why he calls his disciples; Simon, Andrew, James, and John to leave behind their trade of fishing and their families and to follow him to learn how to live and share the good news.

This was not a new concept peculiar to the New Testament. The good news of God is evident throughout the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament.

In our reading form Jonah, God is calling Jonah personally to do the work of proclaiming the good news. Now you might say that being called to Nineveh to tell the citizens that in 40 days they would be overthrown and the way of life they were enjoying would be gone, was not good news! But we need only look at the outcome to see that this truly is Good News as God forgives the people as they turn back to him and repent. Jonah, on the other hand does not see this outcome as good news. I wonder why that is? Jonah is angry that he has followed God and done what God asked of him but now he has not delivered on that proclamation. Instead, God has forgiven them and there do not seem to have been any consequences; no terrible conquest of the city, fighting or innumerable deaths. Jonah is disappointed and angry at God perhaps because he feels foolish at making a proclamation that has not come true.  But the truth is there have been consequences. The King has realised they are heading in the wrong direction and has led the people of Nineveh to mass repentance which God, through his grace, accepts. What Jonah seems to forget is that he has been a reluctant messenger for God. Initially he ran in the other direction and ended in the belly of a fish. Despite his disobedience when he cried out in prayer to God, God forgave him, and he was saved from his plight in the fish’s gut. God did not give up on Jonah and indeed Jonah was a recipient of the good news himself.

The bible is full of these stories of good news and on closer inspection, so is the world around us. Despite all the hunger and violence, the natural disasters and the suffering reported in the news, there are glimpses of God’s good news. To name but a few: the aid agencies and charities who reach out to those in need. The work of churches to reach the lonely and isolated in the community and supporting people through life events of marriage, baptism and death. The work in families to support each other through good times and hard times. The presence of Christ is apparent if we take time to look.

Questions:

  • I wonder what Good News means to you personally?
  • What good news do you see in the world around you today.


Page last updated: 1st November 2021 9:47 AM
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