The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

6th in OT C 2019

It is said of St. Francis of Assisi that he regularly stood on his head in order that he might see the world as it really is.  And what did he see?  He saw that the world was a tenuous place.  He saw that the world existed simply and solely because the Father wills it to be.  He saw that the world was held together by a thread, that could snap at any time. St. Francis of Assisi was a Christian visionary of the most profound kind.  Why? Because St. Francis of Assisi saw the world as it really is.

The first reading today speaks of the priority of the believer: believe in God, put your trust in God and not in man. Yet, is that what we truly do? The second reading today speaks of the apparently unbelievable: Christ in fact has been raised from the dead. The gospel reading today speaks today of what we tend to think of as weak: ‘How happy are the poor … happy you who are hungry … Happy you who weep!’  The world is turned upside down, just as St. Francis saw it standing on his head and so seeing the world for what it truly is; dependant for its very existence upon a loving God.  And we, do we stand on our heads also?

In the Acts of the Apostles is a report of how the pagans amongst whom the early Christians lived viewed them; they were astonished by these followers of Christ and said how they loved one another.  Next Saturday is the memoria of St. Polycarp who was a disciple of St. John the Beloved disciple of Jesus who in his eighties was martyred for his faith, saying to his accusers, ‘Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong’ and ‘How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?’ And there are countless others examples that we could examine of Christians who have truly stood on their heads and have seen that all that is is indeed a gift from God and relies upon God for its continuing existence.  And, this is the point, all of these Christians have been people whom non-Christians regard as foolish, foolish for they have lived their Christian lives according to love of God as expressed in the Good News of Jesus.  As the Apostle Paul writes in the first Letter to the Corinthians, ‘The foolishness of God is wiser than men.’  So the question returns; and we, do we stand on our heads also?  Meaning of course, do we live our lives as those who love one another or can we say, ‘How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?

The Christian life is weird if we look at it with worldly eyes: being hated for the sake of Jesus; being denounced as a criminal because we follow Him; being poor; being hungry; weeping.  We truly do not want any of those things to be our lot, yet that is what we signed up when we became Christians.  Not to be secure; not to be admired; not to be famous; not to be rich; not to be shielded from harm. In other words, when we became Christians we agreed to be like Christ, and once the crowd had turned on Him they killed Him.  That is what we signed up for!

Fr David Fisher

So it is that when we hear this passages of the Gospels being read, the Beatitudes, we should reflect that for the Church to be truly authentic she must be vulnerable, as was her Lord, prepared to live, as the prayer of St. Ignatius says, ‘without counting the cost.’ And that means as an institution, as a local parish church church and as individual Christians.  And it will not be easy, and it will demand a lot from her.  Yet, let us all never forget that we have been given a lot in the first place.

Our Christian life is one where we are called to be Christlike in all we do.  It is not easy; it never has been.  But those early Christians who loved one another and St. Polycarp and all the other Christians martyrs as well as all who have sought to live their lives in holiness have had one thing in common which has been the means by which they have been enabled to live Christian lives; the presence of Christ in the sacraments of the Church which fulfil Christ’s promise to the Church on the Mount of the Ascension, ‘And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’  He has given to us, we must take Him at His word and so live as those who see the world for what it truly is, even if, like St. Francis we must stand on our head.



Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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