Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6: 24-35
I remember a few USA elections ago watching on T.V. a reporter talking of the voting sentiment as they filmed in the Republican heartland and it seemed that at least every second house had a sign out the front supporting George Bush.
It was so different to what we experience in Australia to where if our Prime Minister visited Dubbo he might just as likely get a “G’day Tony, how’s things” or even a “I know the face but can’t seem to place it.” I think that’s great but last Sunday after taking my mum to Canberra to catch a bus home to South Australia we visited Parliament house. It was the first time I had been to see it since I was sixteen and even though no parliament was sitting that day and it was very quiet, it gave me an appreciation of how big a deal and special is the stuff that goes on in that building and felt a sense of its reverence not unlike the first time I visited an empty MCG in Melbourne. An awareness hard to explain as not so much from their dynamic structures, but just a strange and moving feeling that I don’t think I will ever forget. A sentiment I’ve heard people say for themselves upon visiting the vastness of the Grand Canyon or the majesty of one of the great cathedrals of Europe.
The same feeling I had when after a lifetime in the wilderness I was invited and attended against my wishes a small church in a small country town to where upon sitting down my tear ducts opened without control as I knew in every fibre of my body that I was finally home and I wonder just how many times in the back roads of our country in our small houses of worship has someone stumbled through those doors not looking to find home, only to find that home has found them.
To come together as one not in a structure of bricks and mortar, but in a place to receive the gifts of God. To receive His body and blood in Holy Communion, to be reminded of His forgiveness and love that He showers upon those who do His works. To come together as one in the body of Christ be it here in Dubbo/Gilgandra or in St. Pauls Cathedral in London or Rome, be we in suit and tie or tracksuit and sneakers and bow before our Saviour, do His works and receive His gifts. His works not of great missionary work or great acts of hospitality and charity that we receive Him. But the work as told to us in today’s Gospel by Christ himself who when asked of “what must we do to be doing the works of God answers “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent.”
The work of God that is no work other than receive Him as our Lord and Saviour. No work other than receive His forgiveness and no work other than as one in Christ go as free people. Free that in love we can with each other and all those God places before us not need to hide and protect ourselves through pride, arrogance or intolerance, but free to be modest, soft hearted, accepting and understanding.
Shock rock musician Alice Cooper, son of a pastor, grandson of a pastor, and nephew of a pastor, born again Christian and once described as the “most evil rock singer in the world” remarked that prior to his abstinence of alcohol some 24 years ago he was drinking upwards of a bottle of spirits a day not out of habit, but as medicine to survive to get to the next day. An illness he remarked of which he was not cured, but healed.
A healing like I have experienced in a remote country town where the sentiment between black and white was frosty both ways. Emotions that often led to confrontation that being so long in place wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow from either side, never mind the thought of any need to change the mechanics of such a situation. Ingeniously or naively in such a climate, a person had the idea to start and Australian rules football team to compete in the neighbouring league some 400 or 500 Kilometres away and what once started as one team of two teams was transformed through training, playing alongside each other and from sitting with each other for a minimum of eight hours every Saturday on the bus together saw not only the reported town crime statistics drop by half. But black and white not sharing altercations at the pub, but sharing drinks and stories. See not abuse in the street, but a hand waving in acknowledgement and see not denial or rebuttal of the other identity but a proudness to introduce them as friends.
A situation of mistrust, suspicion and outpouring of anger that was not cured by either sides demand for change, but a situation cured by understanding and friendship that then saw no need for the other to change.
As one in Christ, we too are freed from such side shows as one upmanship and bringing others down that we may rise. Free from those outpouring of emotions that we clothe ourselves in to bring safety such as rage, greed, pride, and envy, but free to be who we are. As one in Christ that freedom is not so much “this is who I am, accept it or get stuffed.” But rather a “that is who you are and I accept you because I don’t give a stuff.”
The law of God is good as it contains the chaos in our world and shows us our sin. But the law of God does not cure our sins just as we cannot cure each other of those that the Lord places before us. The law does not cure, but accuses. The gospel of our Lord and saviour answered those accusations with His death on the cross and healed our mortal wounds with those pierced through His perishable and earthly body.
His wounds still on display in His resurrected body that he brought before those who denied Him and allowed His fearful apostles to see and Thomas to touch, not that He bring judgment upon them from what they had done, but that He bring healing upon them through what He had done that they be released and unbridled from their ghosts. To not be cured of what they were, but be healed because of who they were. The same people as before, the same background as before, the same past deeds as before and still the same loved ones of Christ as before. And yet never as before when standing in that small room did they see, know and understand the truth of the freedom of being as one in the love Jesus Christ their Saviour.
In Christ we have been set free to know that never shall we need hide from self, others or God again: and set free that all others shall never need hide themselves from us in fear of ridicule or judgement, but like we know the truth of a Saviour in whose stead we stand before God the Father, not as that of rotting flesh and blood clothed in garments of sin, but stand as one without blemish clothed in the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ: their Saviour, our Saviour OUR SAVIOUR. Amen.