Philip is keen for you read his sermon from Sunday. Here it is…

Luke 13.1-9  9 Eucharist BVM.  10.45 WCC SS  Lent 3 C  24 March

Setting: purple fabric everywhere…

Don’t listen to this sermon.

It’s just best that you don’t. It’s too hard.

Get out while you can …

You don’t want to hear it … SERMON  this.

Take it from me, I know … I wrote it. PAUSE …

Okay, well you asked for it.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There is a kind of innate sense of justice abroad in the world.

There are so many who fall quite easily into the idea

            that those who suffer have, in some way,

            brought it on themselves.

From AIDS/HIV, to earthquakes

even though we may not intellectually connect cause and effect_

            a kind of divine retribution …

            there can be a kind of ‘no smoke without fire’

            no suffering without some kind of justice.

People think it of themselves, too.

            ‘what have I done to deserve this?’

If you don’t do that – then you are blessed.

It was the Jesus’ time.

Jesus is presented with the reasoning of those whom Pilate has killed were more sinners than others.

No, says Jesus – you must repent.

And it’s the same as those killed when that Tower of Siloam fell.

They weren’t worse than anyone else.

There is no causative justice – repent.

Repent.

That’s the Lent mantra, after all.

Then Jesus tells a parable.

I’ve got an old rosemary plant.

It was in a pot on the patio, and not doing well.

When I was tidying up a few weeks back, almost threw it out_

            just taking up space.

But thought, no let me move it and give it another chance.

Dug a hole in a nice spot round the front

            put in some fish blood and bone … lovely compost

Some rotted pig manure …

            And I replanted it.

It’s got the summer to thrive – or …

Or …

Jesus’ parable uses a fig tree, but it’s the same idea.

            one last chance …

Now if you know my preaching,

you’ll know I don’t really do threatening sermons.

This impending wrath of God, the sword of Damocles –

And I was struggling.

It goes against the whole idea –

            God, our creator,

            weaver of original blessing

            planter of the seed of God’s image in us

            God, whose loving kindness is greater than life itself

            God – slow to anger, of great kindness,

                        mercifully welcoming back the prodigal –

Sender of Jesus, full of grace and truth …

Giver of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling kindness of heaven.

I was struggling.

But then … came midweek communion.

(I was the only one)

And the story of the rich man and Lazarus

            Lazarus, the poor man at the gate

They both die – and the rich man is in hell …

he’s begging for Lazarus to bring a drop of water.

Debbie led it as lectio divina, slow reading …

            started reading, but I didn’t get past the first sentence.

The rich man wore purple robes and fine linen …

I love purple … I love linen –

And Lent is purple … and sackcloth, denoting poverty, repentance.

Here the story is a warning to the rich who neglect the poor.

A usual trope for Jesus, how the outcast will be favoured over those who have much and refuse to care for those with nothing.

So much of the temporal order of things will be reversed in the eternal.

And I thought of my stole – my sackcloth stole

            (IKEA curtain fabric)

And I realised … that I should be wearing this.

PUT ON PURPLE ROBE

I give to the poor, buy Big Issue, bring the homeless bloke outside Waitrose a chicken wrap on my way out …

But it’s not just about that.

We are rich. We wear purple robes.

What are we rich in?

What are you rich in? __

What do your purple robes signify?

Who do you judge?

This week Jeremy gave the BVM standing committee a morning on our computer system – Google’s My Drive.

All of us were different in our ability to grasp what he was saying – from ‘incredibly slow’ all the way to ‘very slow’.

But Jeremy was so patient.

He was rich in his knowledge of Google Drive

            but was generous in his care of us.

It’s about us not judging people, and cutting them off.

Us not digging up the rosemary or fig.

But investing ourseles in doing what we can to encourage growth.

What are you rich in? What does your purple robe signify?

And how are you with those who are poor in those things?

Are you rich in forgiveness – able to forgive, yet frustrated at those who are slower to do that? Maybe to forgive you?

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? If you can do it, why can’t they?

Oh, I can’t be bothered any more … if they can’t bring themselves to move on …

Don’t give up, dig around it, apply the manure, seek growth.

Are you rich in seeing what needs to be done, and doing it? Just getting on with it, whilst so many don’t – do they not see what needs doing? Are they blind or just lazy?

Thank God for your riches … it’s hard, though.

– Are you rich in empathy – Those disagreements, those annoying situations, when you find it in yourself to understand others’ positions, but they just don’t get yours?

Don’t give up, you are blessed with emotional intelligence, what a gift – help those who are not.

– Are you rich in generosity, hospitality? Always looking for ways to be open to others, to accommodate views, find ways to help, to look for the positive, or hopeful?

Yet you get dismayed that others keep closed, and don’t seem to want to engage or seek the common good.

Don’t give up, dig deep, allow God to nourish the situation …

And are you rich in your conviction of the right way? The thing that needs to be done, the plan that needs to be made? Yet others don’t seem to get it – or can’t see your position?

Where’s that spade … where’s the bucket …

Do you look out at the poor at your gate and see the lazy, the pathetic, the pessimist, the moaner, the stubborn, the selfish …

Your riches mean that you can give hope, and not give up.

You have it in you to give the benefit of the doubt.

Because that is what God is doing with you.

? Give time to others as you would have God give time to you.

It’s so hard. I don’t want to hear this.

It upsets my world where I am right, I am the sole judge …

I can feel better because they … he, she … just doesn’t get it.

We fail, we are human.

SHED But Jesus shows us the way. And it’s a hard way.

In his hope of us, to start new growth …

He is the grace of God helps us to shed our purple robes

            and to put on the sackcloth.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit …

            it’s up to you, you who are rich

Repent, and be rich in blessings. 

SAY COLLECT AGAIN