Time was when you’d often meet a man walking down the High Street wearing an ‘A’ board and proclaiming loudly ‘Repent for the end of the world is nigh!’ I guess even those from that variety of faith have worked out it’s not the best way to bring the modern man or woman to repentance.
So today’s Gospel strikes a counter cultural message. Jesus offers us a ‘hard saying’ when he proclaims ‘Unless you repent, you will all perish’. However, rather than focussing just on the ‘perish’ we may do well to reflect on the ‘all’. The point Jesus was making is that we are all sinners – even the best of us… Even Mother Teresa talked movingly about her own sense of personal sinfulness. The danger faced by people of faith (maybe like the man with the ‘A’ board) is being too quick to point out the sins of others without addressing the ways in which we personally fall short of what God invites us to be.
So the story that follows of an unproductive fig tree is pertinent. Not least the implication that before we give up on it we might want to try and help it bear fruit with a little digging and manuring. Now… we know that we make manure out of all that icky stuff which we throw on the compost to let it decompose and rot down. It’s not a bad metaphor for our personal sinfulness… We need to take our icky stuff and offer it to God in repentance and then see what God can make of it – and us.
God the great composter… now there’s a striking metaphor.
At the main service at Birdham (9.30am) Jonathan Swindells’ sermon will be “Muck it up” and it is so good that he will use it for the Children’s Service at 11.00 at West Wittering.. At West Wittering (9.30am) Annette Stickley’s sermon theme will be “Blacksmith and the Horseshoe” and Jim Mould’s sermon at Itchenor (11.00) will be “Repent or Perish!”
For those of you wishing to join Evensong at West Wittering Sarah Manouch’s sermon will be ‘The Book of Homilies appointed to be read in church’ and Jim Mould’s theme at Itchenor for Church@6 will be “The Way, the Truth and the Life”
We continue to pray for:
Maurice Stokes, Michael Terry, Josie, Georgina, Edward, Ros & Brian O’Brien, Peter Russell and Charlotte.
and those who have recently died and their loved ones.
Eric Pritchard, Albert Slaughter, David Weir and Derek Horton.
The Ministry Team are only too happy to talk through aspects of their Sermon. If you know of anyone who needs our prayers or would appreciate a visit, please let the Rector or the Parish Administrator know.
The readings for Sunday are:
Isaiah 55. 1-9
1 Corinthians 10. 1-13
Luke 13. 1-9
Ephesians 5. 1-14
Luke 11. 14-28
Genesis 28. 10-19a
John 1. 35-end
Collect for Third Sunday of Lent
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen