Sermon preached at a Taunton Churches Together Sunday Service on 15/11/2020.
On the evening of November 5th, my wife, pregnant daughter and her husband, and our 4 year old daughter, were in the garden having a fire-pit bonfire.
We had German sausages cooking; marshmallows warming. Sparklers, and one or two thimbles of beer. We were having a great time.
When suddenly: my daughter’s waters broke (nearly extinguishing the bonfire)! Our younger daughter Laura, said to our older daughter: “I sometimes have accidents too Abi!”
Five hours later, she gave birth to twins.
And their names gave rise to what I want to share today: Alfred & Evangelina
Alfred the first King of the Anglo-Saxons – Kingship.
Evangelina – from the New Testament word evangel – Good News/Gospel.
Kingship and Gospel – not bad eh?
And so I want to affirm what is always true.
Especially at a time when our churches are empty again;
And the whole world seems ‘not quite right’;
Namely, that despite all that is going on;
The fears, the coming future troubles, the worry we all have for our family;
We who belong to Christ today can always say:
Jesus Christ is Still King and his Gospel is Still True.
Even now: God speaks – moves – heals – saves!
An Archbishop said it best: “Jesus is alive and he’s at large in the world!”
The King is alive, and he’s not left the building! (1 Cor. 3:9 says “We are God’s building”). The King is alive, and he invites/commands us to proclaim his Good News/Gospel/Evangel.
Now recall Colossians and Hebrews.
COLOSSIANS 1:15 Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The word ‘image’ is where we get icon from. It means mirror-image, exact likeness (Ultra HD). In other words – You look at Jesus and you’re looking at God: “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).
Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being.” The word used here is ‘character’. So if you see Jesus, that’s what God is like. And what is God like? Look at Jesus. And God is Love! (1 Jn 4:8).
So what about us?
To follow Christ is to become more and more like him. To be transformed into the image of the likeness of the Son of God. A Christian is ‘icon-ed’ into the character of Christ.
Flannery O’Conner tells of a little girl who loves to visit the nuns at the convent. But every time the nuns hugged her, the crucifix on the nun’s belt got pressed into the child’s face. In this way, the gesture of love always leaves a mark.
The gesture of God’s love for us is crucifix-shaped: “God shows his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8)
The marks of God’s love should be all over us, leaving the marks of: Transformation-Redemption-Healing.
When I was a boy and hugged my grandmother, the only thing I got: Two red cheeks and near asphyxiation. But Love always leaves its mark.
When we hug God in prayer, courageous discipleship and heroic faith – God leaves His mark. Sometimes the mark is painful as we are icon-ed into the image of Christ; But it is always: transformative, restorative, redemptive and always worth it.
In this way, we live our lives being imprinted by God and so…
… The Kingship of Jesus and His glorious Good News is proclaimed thru our lives. And the world is changed.
My world changed last week with the arrival of Alfred and Evangelina. Kingship and Good News.
Without Jesus, we’d be like a people ‘attacking a cliff with a piece of straw’ (Martin Luther); That would be fruitless, pointless and worthless.
But with this King Jesus, we proclaim his Gospel, for that is the power of God for salvation.
‘Because Jesus Christ is Still King and His Gospel is Still True.’
And the icons of Christ said:
*This sermon was preached at a Taunton Churches Together Sunday Service on 15/11/2020