Pew Sermon – 22nd January

Hello again everyone

The short grey rainy January days continue, but interspersed with some glorious sunshine, so much a metaphor for our times. We journey on in faith, in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that as surely as God plants the seeds of change in this world, spring will surely come. Sometimes our job is not to change the world, but to stand fast in what we believe, and hope, and pray. Not in desperation, but in wonder and thanks to a God who cares for us, and answers prayer.

I was at Cranleigh last Sunday, speaking on Isaiah 49 v1-7. At least I thought I was! The St Nicolas Cranleigh order of service had the right passage printed out (thank goodness) but with the wrong heading – Isaiah 60 v1-6! Right passage, wrong heading. Gross mess-up in the church office? Or does God speak to us even through such small things? 

Because both the passage, and the Gospel (John 2 – did Tim preach on that at Dunsfold? I will have to ask him) speak of names changes, which, at a stretch, you might loosely compare to this accidental ‘title of the passage’ change:

The passage speaks of our calling in God, and even of possibly a new name for us, in God:

The Lord called me before I was born,
    while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. Isaiah Ch 49 v2
The calling is in the first three verses: we are chosen by God from conception: tiny unborn embryos, floating about inside our Mothers, before we were even born. Before we even knew it, before we even came to be born, God chose us, and named us. 

Interesting thought! Perhaps we have a  secret, spiritual name, possibly in addition to our birth name – because we are named and chosen and loved by God before we or our parents even knew it!

Lots of name changes in the Bible, by the way – birthnames swapped for spiritual names – Simon Peter in our Gospel passage just for starters. Called and re-named by Jesus. 

The evil Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul the apostle of light.

Abram becomes Abraham, Father of nations, and so on. 

Calling gives us a new identity and a new name in Christ.

How do you see yourself as a Christian? Called, renamed, chosen, or a bit of an also ran?

And how indeed do I see myself also?

What do we see when we look at ourselves in the spiritual mirror of God’s Living Word?

If you are introvert, and most preachers are, you may not like what you see. You might even get depressed, and avoid looking at all costs.

If you are extrovert, you may gloss over your blemishes and character faults, and not pick up on them, and keep on repeating them.

May I suggest that both reactions are un-Biblical and unhelpful.

We need to see who we really are in Christ to solve those problems of negative self-perception.

We are called, we are chosen, we are equipped, we are commissioned by God for good works and great adventures. It’s all in that passage. Do read it if you get a chance, it’s only seven verses!

Seeing ourselves as God sees us, and not as others see us, and not even as we see ourselves, will be exposing and difficult at times. 

But great joy, and freedom – and even glory – awaits those of us who can fight through the barriers of self-doubt, the barriers of our own weakness, the barriers of our own seeming ineffectiveness, and battle through, to the glory God has in store for each of us, on the other side.


Have a really good week everyone, and keep in touch if you can.