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Sermon for Sunday, 22nd November 2009 (Christ the King/Sunday before Advent) — 14 Comments

  1. I appreciate the sentiments addressed in this piece. I always seem to quibble, but I only ask in order to receive clarification. I quote “I suspect most of us, including myself, would be uncomfortable with the description of such events, they don’t sit easily in our modern rational minds”, referring to the phenomena as reported by Matthew (obviously the tabloid scribe).
    You do not refer to the resurrection, perhaps because it dose not fit neatly into the message of your sermon. Or perhaps………….modern rational minds?

  2. It’s Matthew’s description of the tombs opening and people walking into the city that would be problematic for some members of my congregation (which has some very learned people). I don’t feel comfortable with many things, that doesn’t mean I would suggest they were not true, but it does mean that I recognize that I cannot present the faith as a series of propositions. There was an American-funded evangelical church in the village when I first came to the parish which closed down because it simply failed to attract people with its brand of certainty.

    The Resurrection is not part of Sunday’s Gospel, but I would hold very firmly to a traditional, conservative understanding for radical reasons: without the Resurrection, I believe, there is no justice for the poor, and from what I understand of sub-atomic physics, such extraordinary things are possible that the Resurrection is easily believable.

  3. Thank you Ian. I find your reply far more interesting than the original piece! I find Preacher Man’s reply also intriguing. From our little note I do take on board that you believe your stance ” I recognize that I cannot present the faith as a series of propositions”. I wonder how many of your parishioners agree with you? Strong, simple faith is the unquestioning base for many a believer.
    This is the second time this week that someone has presented me with sub-atomic physics! The first was in conversation with a gentleman who believes in ‘a power greater than ourselves’ – he is a member of AA. He used the sub-atomics point to try to explain the inexplicable. As if, by quoting real scientists, people who deal with the ‘real’ world, I would be swayed to believe, or at least accept, that parallel worlds do exist, or that “extraordinary things are possible that the Resurrection”. I am sorry, but I cannot accept the analogy.
    Just because I, as a simple human being, cannot hope to ever understand sub-atomic physics, does not mean that I do not believe the existence of such things. Or the opposite!!!
    Scientists are not theologians.
    I must say you are sounding more and more anglican to me! That’s a compliment.

  4. Oh dear, I haven’t done any theology since completing my MA two years ago and my brain is complaining at having to get out of bed.

    The Church of Ireland is not a ‘propositional’ church. Our Articles of Faith are very scant compared to the lengthy statements elsewhere. My parishioners would recoil at being told that something was so simply because it was so – they would associate such thought with the days of McQuaid. Unquestioning faith is not really faith at all, because unless it has been questioned it has never been tested.

    Quantum physics is probably not a good defence of the Resurrection, but there are physicists if have no problem with the idea of God and I think some of them would make rather good theologians. I was at the grave of Erwin Schroedinger back in January when a physics graduate, who was in the churchyard, came over to talk about the anthropomorphic principle – I hadn’t heard of it before.

    You dodge the issue of justice for the poor – if there is no Resurrection, then I believe the world to be a fundamentally unjust place.

    I’m afraid traditional Anglicans are becoming rare – we are being driven into extinction by our warring wings.

  5. It’s late so forgive the quick reply – I’ll follow up later. I did not think I dodged the issue of justice for the poor. I just did not address it!. I accept that you believe “if there is no Resurrection, then I believe the world to be a fundamentally unjust place”. I’m afraid I don’t get or accept such a proposition, if I may use such a word !
    Warring wings within the Anglican tradition would make a very interesting topic, but that may just be fanning the flames. Oh to mix a metaphor.

  6. I have to go to the North for a wedding, so shall ponder these things.

    I met a man called Emmanuel in the summer. His wife and five of his six children were killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. With no resurrection, is that to be their lot?

  7. Came across this web page looking for an answer as to what this Sunday means…found the exchange of comments
    at the end of the sermon very interesting.
    My father was a Baptist Minister, Brighton in the U.K.
    and I am an artist living in South Africa.
    …………..we are all held in a holding pattern of habits, till we have brief periods of determination and
    inspiration…perhaps to change ‘things’ ..that’s what this Sunday..Christ the King..is celebrating..
    a precursor to change – that might be my answer

  8. Unfortunately, I don’t see much inclination towards change amongst those who lead his followers.

  9. I’ve been thinking about your Emmanuel. You ask what is to be their lot, I assume you mean Emmanuel and his child. Common decency and fellow human feeling leave me with nothing but pain for their plight. How can he carry on? He has two choices – there are only ever two choices. Suicide or carry on. Please do not think me heartless – not enough space to properly argue the point. Why commit suicide? It seems a pointless and selfish act. Why carry on? It is nature’s way. Survive. Keep our genes, dna, molecules our very being, going.
    Unjust world? Of course it is. We must keep faith with our ‘humanity’. Most organised religions recoginse this. Putting ones faith in the resurrection maybe a way to reconcile this ‘unjust’ world with hope for the future. If Emmanuel is happy with that, then who am I to argue the toss with him? What are the odds that the ‘next life’ will be as unjust as this one? What is a just world?

  10. I was thinking about those killed – if you have been hacked to death as a child, then is that your entire life?

    Ted Hughes embodies your thoughts about having to carry on in one of the poems from ‘Crow’, I can’t remember its title at the moment.

    A just world, for me, is one which fulfils at least some of the visions of the prophet Isaiah.

  11. As far as I can see or judge, yes, that would be one’s entire life.
    You may not be surprised to note that Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite poets. Interesting that you mention Ted Hughes!
    I promise to re-visit Isaiah.
    May we draw a veil over this topic pro tem? I feel sure it will crop up again……soon…:)

  12. Aye – my brain is not accustomed to such exertions. I’m more the church boiler and hall keys sort of clergyman!

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