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Sex, Deceit and Murder - Good News? July 29th

I don’t know about you, but today I would like to hear some good news. When I connect my computer to the Internet, the first thing it shows is the Sydney Morning Herald website. And every time, the page is full of rapes and murder, wars and famines, deceit and corruption. I’m tired of it. So I might like to watch a movie. And it’s the same thing. Movies full of all the horrible things that humans can do to each other. I just don’t want to know. What about television? Don’t ask! Even the news should be for Restricted viewing only.

So, as a Christian, I turn to the words of Scripture, I look for good news in the Bible. And what do I see? The great king David, anointed by God as king over God’s chosen people, the ancestor of Jesus Christ our Lord. And how many of the Ten Commandments does he break in one short passage? Covetousness; because he wanted Uriah’s wife for himself. Adultery; because they had sex together. False witness; because he behaved deceitfully towards Uriah and towards Joab, who was Uriah’s commanding officer. Murder; because David arranged for Uriah to be killed by the Ammonites. Where’s the good news in all that?

Leaving aside the other readings for today, let’s turn to page of our service booklet. There you will see the words;

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This is the mystery and the power and the good news of our faith.

Firstly, Christ has died. There are many reasons why this is good news for us. One reason is that Christ’s death on the cross shows that God stands with us in our suffering. All those rapes and murders, wars and famines, deceit and corruption – God is right here with us, suffering as we do. God is not somewhere far away above the sky; God is not safely seated on a throne in Heaven, God is right here among us, bearing our suffering, carrying on the shoulders of Christ our burden of sin. Isn’t that Good News? When we’re going through Hell, when we’re ill, or in pain, or depressed, God is right beside us, saying, “Here I am, my dear child. I know what you are going through. Let me walk with you and carry your suffering with you. Although you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be here beside you, with rod and staff to comfort and support you.” This is good news, surely! Nobody in the whole world is left alone. God is always there with them. Not everybody knows this, and even those who do know may forget, from time to time, but the truth remains. When we say, “Christ has died” we know that God is with us every step of the way, from before the beginning of time, to the end of eternity. The word “atonement” can mean, “at one ment”. God is at one with us in every possible way.

The next thing we say or sing is, “Christ is risen”. This is good news because it tells us about the new life everyone can have in Christ. We call this process, Grace. We live by God’s grace, God’s gift. This is what St Paul says about it. “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who fills all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit ‑ not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – so that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Measure the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God!”

This is what the feeding of the five thousand is all about. It’s not about loaves and fishes, but about Christ who is the bread of life, who feeds us in such a way that we’re never hungry.

And finally, Christ will come again. We call this Hope. Christian hope is the knowledge that God will make all things new. Creation will be brought to its final perfection by God working in the world and in us. St Paul has this to say, “God can do anything, you know ‑ far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! God does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, God’s Holy Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Another way to say it is that God has opened the door to the future and God invites us to start the journey. Whoever wrote the letter to the Hebrews said, “We have complete freedom to go into the most holy place by means of the death of Jesus. He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain, through his own body. So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith.”

Here is more good news. Jesus has broken down the barrier between us and God. We can walk straight up to God, into this wonderful future God has prepared for us. Some people call it Heaven, some people call it a new creation, some call it a New Jerusalem (which we desperately need – the old Jerusalem is looking rather battered at the moment). It doesn’t matter what you call it, all we know is that it is wonderful and that it is the hands of God. Christ will come again, yes, and Jesus Christ is the centre of God’s future for us.

Christians are people who have answered God’s invitation and set out on the journey. And Christians are the people who have the responsibility of inviting others to come along. Some people call the inviting of other people, evangelism, but that word has been misused. It is a Greek word and it means, messenger of good news. Surely we would like to be messengers of good news to the world?

So let’s rejoice that Christ’s death has opened a path for us, and that his rising again has given us grace, strength and love. Let us thank God that we have a future – Christ will come again.

And as for poor old king David who broke five commandments at once, what became of him?

Well, David and Bathsheba’s first baby died, but they had another son, called Solomon, who built the temple in Jerusalem and was famous for his wisdom. And Solomon was Jesus’ ancestor. God has done an amazing thing here, from the descendents of a man who broke five of the ten commandments at once, David, has come Jesus, the saviour of the world.

Now if God has done such wonderful things with David, can you imagine what God might do with us? Of course not! Paul says that the power within us is able to far more than all we can ask or imagine.

Isn’t that good news?

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