Saturday, 7 September 2013

SERMON FOR Sunday 1st September 2013 Young People's Camping Weekend

LEFT OUT – Jesus doesn’t leave anyone out and neither should we.
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ Luke 14: 12-14
Make sure a selection of people have been given invitations.
Look what I have! I received an invitation to a party. It is going to be a really great party. Listen to this, ‘You are invited to a party at St. Michael’s Church hall on Friday 6th September at 6.30pm.  There will be games and fun for all ad plenty of delicious food.’
Did you receive one of these invitations? You didn’t? I wonder why you were left out? How does it make you feel to know that you were left out of what promises to be a great party? Are your feelings hurt? Do you wonder why I got an invitation and you didn’t? it isn’t a very good feeling to be left out, is it?
Do you ever leave someone out when you are having a party or doing something special? So you only invite your very best friends? Do you perhaps leave out the child who doesn’t have much money and wears old clothes? Or maybe you leave out the child who is physically handicapped and has to get around in a wheelchair. Maybe you leave out the child who isn’t very smart and the others kids make fun of him. Maybe you leave out the child whose skin is a different colour. Maybe you don’t invite a child because others do not like them and you don’t want to be singled out for inviting them. Maybe there is someone at work who is annoying and no-one gets on with them. Maybe no one invite them for a drink after work.  Or maybe you don’t think it is the right thing to give someone begging on the streets anything!  How do you think those children/adults feel when they are left out?
You probably know how they feel – most people at one time or another will have been ‘left out’ of something, somewhere in their life time.   So knowing what it feels like, why do we leave people out or walk on by a person who is in need?
Jesus commands to love as he has loved. How did Jesus love? He loved until it cost him. He loved all the way to the cross and death. That is love. If he had stopped loving before Calvary then it would not have been love at all. It would have been only for what he could get out of it. But love, in the sense that Jesus means, is loving even when it means undergoing suffering for the sake of the other. That is real love, loving for the good of the other. Like hugging a tramp or extending a hand of friendship to the family in your road who every Friday night has one or the other child brought home by the police and who are notorious for drinking  and being anti-social at all hours. That is precisely how Jesus explains his love in the next line of the Gospel you chose. Jesus said,
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Again and again we give God all sorts of reasons to turn his back on us but he keep on loving us because he made a covenant with us, not a contract. You can use all sorts of legal means to wiggle your way out of a contract but a covenant is irrevocable. That is precisely the love of God we see for us in his covenant with us. And he expects us to do the same to others we meet on our journey in life.Don’t let anyone you meet miss out on being made welcome in God’s kingdom here on earth.
Today Jesus is saying that when we are having a party, we shouldn’t just invite our best friends or the most popular kids in school. In fact, he said that we should be sure to invite the very ones that we might leave out – the poor, the crippled, the homeless, the drunk, and those who are less fortunate than we are. He said that if we only do good things for whose who can do good things for us that we already have our reward, but if we do good things for those who cannot do good things for us in return, that we will receive out reward in heaven. Would you rather be rewarded now, or in heaven? If you want to be rewarded in heaven, be careful who you invite to your next party.
Dear Father, help us to be loving and caring toward those who may not have as much as we have, or are different from us in some way. Help us to include them in the special things that we do. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Oh, by the way, you know this invitation I told you about? It isn’t a real invitation. I just made it up to help us to understand how it feels to be left out. It feels pretty good to know your haven’t been left out, doesn’t it.
  1. What are the things that stop you from reaching out to those in need? (for instance – man begging in the street – you walk on by because he probably on drugs or drink – if I give him money – he will spend it on that).
  2. Sometimes events of the past stay with us in later life. Being left out or teased because of some problem or illness. (Alison Teague had very severe eczema all over her body – people would call her scabby and never invited her to events and often singled out other who spoke with her). Such scars can prevent us from coming forward or being the friend to another – someone once said (can’t remember who) ‘that scars are reminders of where we have been and not where we are going’. Maybe there are scars that that needs Jesus’ healing touch. Pray for each other that Jesus will heal and enable you to reach out and touch others in a way that lead them to Jesus and His kingdom.

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