Sermon 25th September


Readings; John 6, 35-40, 2 Corinthians 4, 16-5,4

We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

To be in ministry in such times as have just passed has been incredibly humbling, especially being in ministry here in Sark where the significance of being a crown dependency is very real.

I have been particularly struck by the selection of services that have been offered to be used during the time of mourning, services which the Queen was deeply involved with, in the choices of hymns, readings and indeed, for her funeral, music. They reflect her deep faith, something she was not afraid to speak of boldly, both in addresses to the nation and at other times too. Her regular attendance at the churches local to her palaces is well known, where she was, as much as she could be, simply another member of the congregation.

Much has been said about our late queen in the last couple of weeks, and endless programmes have looked at multiple areas of her life- indeed, to some extent we perhaps had a little of a queen overload as each channel tried to outdo the other to gain ratings.

But amongst all those programmes, her steadfast loyalty and duty to her people, her desire to serve has been seen to be uppermost, even through some of the most difficult family times and times of national crisis during her reign.

And the reason for that, the driving force behind that was wonderfully summed up by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he reminded us all that she swore allegiance to God before swearing allegiance to anyone or anything else.

And that is an example that perhaps we can learn from and strive to live up to.

When God is first in your life, first in your sense of duty, first in your thoughts as to how you live and work out your life, then a sense of service is almost inevitable. We can start, perhaps with the simple commandment to love God first, then love others as yourself, the outcome of which, of course, means you tend to want to serve, to give, in order to love. But implicit in faith is also that desire to emulate Christ, as he encouraged his disciples and encourages us, to do as he did, love as he did, serve as he did- always focused on his Father God- not my will, but yours, he said facing the most awful death for our sakes. We do not bear the name Christians for nothing, the whole word implies not just being followers of Christ, but trying to live like him.

But the reality is that we live in a difficult world, with difficult people and often seemingly insurmountable problems. And so often it is easier to skirt around those people or issues, as if passing them by on the other side of the street will make them go away to allow us to continue living our comfortable lives without awkward interruptions. Avoiding those people who are not “like us”, or don’t behave like us, or mix with the “wrong” people or even, dare I say, go to the “wrong” church, or no church at all. Avoiding those issues which might benefit others but would mean changing something familiar or habitual in our lives, a selfishness which we might conveniently ignore, is not beneficial to others, or actually might cause them harm in some way.

Or avoiding those relationships which are difficult or challenging, because it’s easier to avoid them than to have to spend time forming or building relationships with people we either don’t like or would rather not be with.

And I can hear some of you say in your minds, “but why should I, why should it be me who makes the effort, why should I disturb my comfortable life for no benefit?”

Why indeed, in human terms? But we claim to be Christians, and that title means something. It means we come to serve, as Christ did, as our late Queen demonstrated.

In all the hard times she faced, whether family of country, those words we heard from Paul, which she chose to be read, “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal”, those words showed how she could look beyond the issues, the problems, even beyond her death toward something unattainable in this life, but which we have been promised in eternity.

The problems we face in this world are temporary, the love and hop God offers through Christ are permanent, and although we do not see them yet, God gives us insight and guidance through the power of the Holy Spirit to recognise that the context of our daily lives has an impact on our eternal lives.

And so, as our late Queen showed us, the context of our daily lives must be service, always putting others before ourselves always fulfilling our duty to God.

And if we all did that, the world, and those parts of it we know would surely be a better place. And our prayer thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven would be that much closer.