Archive for November, 2006

From Sadness to Gladness

Sermon for Sunday 19th November – West Lakes Church Family Sunday.

The Bible reading is the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1

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There is a picture of people’s hands clasped up in prayer and pleading to God. The colours are sad colours…they look like the colour of the sky on a sad and gloomy day…grey and black.

When we feel sad we can pray to God about what is making us sad.

Like Hannah did when she wanted a child of her own to love…she went to the Temple, which is like a big church and she prayed.

I think Hannah teaches us something about God when she prays about her sadness. She teaches us that we don’t have to hide our feelings from God…that we can be honest about what is going on our lives. We don’t have to pretend we are OK when we aren’t feeling OK.

When we are happy we can tell God about it.

And God wants to know about the times we are feeling sad too.

Now sadness is not all bad news.

There are times when I’m sad because I didn’t do a job very well and I feel I let people down, or when I didn’t do very well in a test or when people laugh at me and make fun of me. I talk to God about those times, because I feel like the picture on the screen then.

Other things that make me sad are when I see people dying of diseases like AIDs in Mawali and lots of those people are young children. I feel sad when I hear that people have their precious things stolen and when I hear there is not enough water in the River Murray and it’s dying.

Sadness like this comes from really caring about someone or something.

Perhaps you have felt sadness like this too if someone you know has been hurt or something you care about is getting worse.

Sadness like that urges us to action.

We want to do something about it to make it better.

Often when Jesus was walking around with his disciples, he would be sad when he saw the way some people were treated badly, through no fault of their own. They were treated badly because they were blind or crippled or poor. Jesus didn’t think that was how God wanted the world to live.

So he would do something about it.

He would heal the people; he would challenge the people in power about their attitudes. He would feed the hungry.

He would tell people about God’s kingdom.

A bit like the lady in the play today – she wanted to tell people the good news about God’s blessings. But she wasn’t just all words, was she? What was in the Bible she gave away?

Twenty dollars! Enough for a good feed for 2 homeless people.

That changed sad faces to glad faces, didn’t it?

Someone who cares can help you when you are sad too. God needed that lady to share his love and to care for those 2 people in the gutter. That was how they knew God’s blessing.

That lady was willing to share her faith in God to bless and she was willing to give $20 for God to use her to help others who are sad.

That’s how the church or the people who believe in God and worship God by following Jesus Christ, works.

We all feel sad sometimes.

We all care for one another when someone is feeling sad.

When we feel sad, we can turn to one of Jesus’ friends here at Church to help us be glad again – glad to be alive. Like the little girl in the picture.

And as a friend of Jesus, we can do things about situations that make us feel sad, like the drought…conserving our water, so everyone can be glad again!

One thing that makes me feel glad after I’ve been a bit sad is to sing a song about Jesus…and that’s what we are going to do now.

But first let’s have a prayer:

Dear God,

Thanks for wanting to know when we are sad as well as when we are glad. Thanks for people who care about our feelings and who do good things for us. Amen

Where are you God?

Psalm 139 says, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” There was a man, a simple man, who lived in Blanchetown – his name was Ron. He worked all his life in a simple job, was married with 3 kids, built a shack on the river and retired there. There is a serenity about the river…a stillness and a peace, where often the presence of God may be experienced. I took Ron’s funeral today – he had a loving family and many children and grandchildren, who all loved him passionately. He was a mentor and a source of wisdom. One boy said, “he taught me how to reel the fish in!” I could imagine Ron sitting in his tinnie with his wife, soaking in the ambience of the river, being at peace with himself. God was there, but he didn’t know it…he just experienced the grace of God.

Don’t we all do that? Experience the grace of God without realising or recognising that the deep peace we feel, the sens e of being love and “all is well” comes from the One who created us, who “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139) … for the cynics, not everyone can understand this truth, but if you pray for God to reveal Godself to you, look for a sense of deep inner peace, look for a blessing from creation, for often creation reveals something of its Maker. There’s no getting away from it!!

Thanks God for Ron…help his family in their time of grief. Amen

Hannah’s barrenness

In 1 Samuel 1 we read of Hannah weeping before God because she is barren. She is ridiculed by the “other woman” she shares her husband with. Her barrenness in those days is seen as a sign of God’s disfavour. She is so overcome that she appears “drunk” to Eli, the High Priest of the Temple, as he watches her weeping and praying silently. He immediately makes assumptions about Hannah – she is drunk!!

How often do we make assumptions about people simply on their appearance or their behaviour? We need to take time to get to know someone, to develop a simple trust between each other that allows for open communication.

Even though Eli ticks off Hannah and tells her to get out and get herself together, Hannah has enough courage to say she is not what he thinks. Eli does listen. Often people don’t! They can be so consumed by their own opinions and so insecure that judgement is passed immediately. Eli recognises he has made a mistake about the woman and joins her in her suffering by praying for her and asking that her petition be heard and granted by God.

We are called to enter into the pain and suffering of each other, by being understanding of one another. By offering words of comfort and hope with the person. By praying for them.

The Scriptures say that Hannah left feeling much better. Her encounter with Eli began with misunderstanding, but because time and effort was made to share and listen and join in solidarity through empathy and prayer, Hannah was uplifted. She went home, had intercourse with her husband and became pregnant.

Not everyone has the happy outcome. There are many childless couples who long for a baby and their prayers are not answered. As their community we are invited to listen to their sharing, to join them in their suffering, to pray for them for a child, for a hope, for an acceptance and means to deal with their pain so that they may feel supported and understood and be uplifted.

Whatever your sadness and its cause, is there someone who has demonstrated they just don’t understand? Takle a moment to share what is really going on with you. God may well use you to help them listen and empathise and as a source of spiritual energy through your prayers. They may uplift you in spirit – you may encourage them in loving and caring for others. together you will make community.