Love Thy Neighbour – Sermon Text

STEWARDSHIP Will you pray with me.. Almighty God thank you for inviting people like us to share in your mission. You gave Paul a vision of a world won for Christ so please show us here in our church how we can play our part in making that vision a reality. Amen. This month’s vision is stewardship so I looked up the meaning of it. Christians use the word stewardship so often that we tend to assume everyone knows what it means and we rarely stop to explain it. Stewardship does not just mean giving generous gifts from our possessions. Stewardship means we recognise God owns it all. We have been entrusted with the goods of this earth, yet we own nothing. How can we give what we do not own? Instead we must make those resources we do not need available to others. It is easier to talk about the different facets of stewardship, which includes.. time, talents, trust, tithing, ,thankfulness, tradition and the earth. Tonight I am talking about our earth, all who live on it and the big item that is sweeping the earth at the moment. Immigration. Jesus himself is the ultimate immigrant, coming from heaven to point the way back to God and God’s ways. The infant Jesus and his family experienced life as refugees, forced to flee the wrath of King Herod until the threat had passed. He knew what it was to be an outsider, and a refugee, to face the challenges of assimulation or integration, the pain of loss, ostracism and rejection. If Jesus was here this evening with us he might say as is written in Matthew 7: 12,…So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. To those of us who know our parables he might tell the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 verse 25 and carry out the work as our Wendy does by writing to those who need support in desperate times. To us he might refer to the Great Commandment to love God and love your neighbour. And ask how you’re going in this challenge to love…really love-people who are quite different from us. Immigrants appear throughout the Bible, Abraham left his homeland for the land God would show him, promising to bless him and all other people through him. Joseph was a victim of human trafficking, sold as a slave. Naomi was forced to flee her homeland because of famine, and Ruth returned with her when God provided food again. Mary and Joseph brought their baby Jesus, across several borders to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous intentions. Why cannot people remember that everybody is created in God’s image and that includes immigrants travelling across borders, and countries for many reasons. Because of natural disasters, threats of violence, human trafficking. We have all read about Syria,Africa and countries making life so miserable for their LGBT communities. Being murdered and tortured just for being who they are. Would’nt you flee those countries when your life is at stake.? How can we reach out to them with a world on the move? How can we welcome them to a freedom that we ourselves are so lucky to experience here?. God tells the people of Israel, time and time again to…welcome the stranger for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Hospitality, particularly to the stranger, is a theme in both the Old and New Testaments, and it is central to the theme of Jesus’s ministry. The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia, meaning “love of the other” The treatment of immigrants in our midst is a relevant application for quite a number of biblical themes:- stewardship, grace, biblical justice, evangelism, fellowship, unity, hospitality, the role of government, reconciliation and power. In the States where Trump is causing so much carnage it wasn’t always like that. When Obama was president he invited our church representatives, yes MCC to sit with others to discuss unity with all parties. How things have changed It is important that all churches who have a passion for justice should stand up against any culture or system which overlooks injustice especially when it refers to the weaker members of society. Yet such injustice goes further: it denies the very roots of the creation story as affirming each person as made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect. We start by following the bible with Hebrews 13 1-3 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters” Then together we can address issues that are within our abilities to help those needing us Amen

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