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 2020

So as I watch Ski Sunday and as the winter training season gets under way I have two questions of myself: how can I win the Tour de France and how can I become an Olympic Bob Sleigh Champion?

I doubt if you, like me, harbour such dreams, however idiotic they may be.  You see, I get on my bike and turn the pedals and I begin to wonder; could I have ever been good enough to have won the Yellow Jersey? Or again, since the days of Nash and Dixon, that is 1964 if I remember correctly, could I ever have been a member of an Olympic Bob Sleigh championship team?  The idle dreams, perhaps, of idle moments. 

In OT times many a pious Hebrew might have had a similar idle moment: how do I make myself a good Jew?  For me, if I still had the time I could begin to train and who knows, that Yellow Jersey or Gold Medal might, just become mine.  To be a good Jew in OT times would probably have meant a life time of study, devotion, reading of scripture, discussion; in a word training, training in the Law, so that the pious Hebrew might be a good Jew, the sort of individual that God wanted them to be.  An individual who indeed did not kill, but also was not angry with his brother; one who did indeed leave the offering before the altar so that he might be reconciled with his estranged brother first; one who did not swear an oath by any vain thing, but whose yes meant yes and whose no meant no.  The Hebrews, being the chosen ones of God had had set before them high ideals which needed much training. But above all they followed the injunction contained in the final sentence of our first reading: they were never godless for they understood that God had not given anyone permission to sin.  Sin is where we deliberately set ourselves apart from God.  So the mindset of the good Jew was therefore contained in the response to the psalm: 'They are happy who follow God's law', and they did. But if they didn't, the Law was there with its injunctions to legislate them back to the way of The Lord.  The Law of Israel was good; it was after all given them by God, so it must be.  But it was only ever provisional. One day, the Day of The Lord, it must and would be superseded, because on the Day of The Lord, God Himself would fulfil the Law, would complete it.

In the Gospel reading we see Jesus teaching the apostles and the close disciples the secrets of the Kingdom of God and He says to them that the Law and the prophets would not be abolished by Him but would rather be completed by Him.  What did He mean? 

Jesus was teaching the apostles and the close disciples that He had come to make the once and for all sacrifice of His life as the pure offering of the Lamb to God Most High, and that in this once and for all sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of all humankind, the Law and the prophets would be completed, would be fulfilled. Thus it is that at the end of the crucifixion as recorded by St. John Jesus

Fr David Fisher

says, 'It is accomplished' and He gave up His spirit.  It is accomplished, that is the purpose of the Law and the prophets is achieved. And now the Law and the prophets can pass away, for the means by which humankind is made one with God Most High is Jesus and Him alone.  So it is that St. Paul writes, 'These', that is the mysteries of the death and resurrection of Jesus, 'These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God'.  The depths of God are His great love for His Creation, for us, which now in Jesus is made one with Him.

Now we live in Jesus and living in Jesus we live His life.  We don't have to follow a training routine, rather we have to live a life, the life of Jesus.  I will never wear the Yellow Jersey or ever have an Olympic Gold Medal, but I will have, indeed already have, a new life, the life of Jesus.  And when I fail, as I do and will, I don't get that life back by Law, by following training rules, rather, I look into the face of Jesus and see that He wills that I have my being in Him, and so I am transformed, perhaps for a moment only, but in that moment everything makes sense.  And what is for me is for all Christians.  And so, as we come to receive our Holy Communion this morning, we are not training ourselves in Law, rather we are responding in Christian love to the love of God shown us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It truly is that in Holy Communion, that simple act of walking from our place to the altar and there with our hands or on our tongue making a throne for Jesus we are looking into the face of Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament.  We walk to Him who first walked towards us, and He lets us all know for all eternity, even if we make it for only a moment, His true life which He gives us freely.  And then He send us out from this place with these words resounding in our ears, ‘Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life’. ‘Your life made like mine, by me, because I met you on the Way and you turned to me and said, My Lord and My God!’

So as Christians we don’t need to train ourselves, no sweating away and building up strength and agility, no, rather we simply have to open ourselves up to God in Jesus, turn to Him and say, sometimes fearfully, sometimes cockily, sometimes in a tried way, but always longingly, My Lord and My God! And He will be there to give us Himself, His life.


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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