Pew Sermon for Sunday 3rd October

Hello again everyone. 

On Sunday, I took a non-church friend to hear Justin Welby at Dorking – and very good it was, too. Justin is a very fine speaker indeed, and also comes over as a thoroughly wise and decent person. The words of Jesus ‘do not fear’ were just one vitally important part of his message to us at this time of uncertainty. The example of Job was another.

On the way there, and on the way back, we passed many petrol stations, each with a long queue of cars queueing up. One sign said ‘sorry – only super diesel left’. Another said £30 per customer only’. Panic buyers? Or  wise virgins filling up their four-wheeled lamps, ready for the week ahead? I think that rather depends on your point of view! But if it was panic buying – and I think we all know it was! – then not only does everyone lose, but the underlying issue remains unresolved – fear – the very think Jesus tells us NOT to do! Time again.

In times of change and uncertainty, it is tempting to draft back into old fearful habits, regardless that our Christian faith teaches us otherwise; teaches us in fact that God is faithful, and reliable, and that we have nothing to fear – not when it comes to the big things in life – and indeed beyond life.

I secretly wonder inf the media does not feed off this communal sense of fear and uncertainty. Perhaps there is some unwritten crowd behaviour contract between those who produce and report the news, and those of us who consume it, that bad news sells! And if you consume enough of that, it’s not just petrol we are currently ‘running out of’. It’s cheap gas, it’s energy suppliers, it’s lorry drivers, it’s care workers (try getting a home care package in place at present! It’s impossible!) – shortages cause fear. 

And fear is often deep seated because we don’t like the unknown. I have owned an electric car for two years. The number of people who have applauded me for a green choice have been almost zero. The number of people who have expressed concern, and even challenged me over the short mileage range (without a recharge) have been many. EV cars remain a niche market, and agreed, short range is inconvenient on long journeys.

Yes. Inconvenient. But hardly impossible! Fear of the New runs deep inside us all. A fear, incidentally, I don’t currently share, as I glide smoothly past those petrol station queues, praying with all my heart – and somewhat ineffectively – against the sin of smugness.

(The car, by the way, drives like a bat out of hell! I would never go back to petrol!)

In life, there’s currently plenty to be fearful about – Afghanistan near the top of the list, along with UK economy concerns touched on above. And of course, many are ill and in pain.

The Old Testament character Job lost everything – not just petrol, not just cheap gas – everything – family, friends, money, possessions, health. Still, he does not fear or despair. Still he trusts God.

Let’s find out how he does it – next Sunday. See you then!