From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s
22nd in OT B 2018
I don’t know if your follow the sport of cycling but whether you do or not something pretty amazing happened last Sunday. Simon Yates from Bury one the Vuelta d’Espagna. Now, at the risk of boring you, The Vuelta is one of the three Grand Tour cycling road races in the world. The other two are the Giro d’Italia and the Tour the de France. When Simon Yates completed the Vuelta he added his name to those of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas as Britons who are champions of the three greatest cycling road races. Yes, all three titles are currently held by Britons; quite amazing and quite unprecedented.
These three champions are joined together, not just by their passports but in their desire to compete, to prove to themselves that on that day at that place they had done all they could to turn in the best performance that they were capable of. They had trained, they had gone without, they had hurt, and now they were performing to the uttermost. A truly outstanding group of athletes.
In the second lesson read this morning, St. James is writing of what we might call, if you will allow the analogy, Christian athletes, those who, on that day in that place, “bear fruit in holiness”. Listen to some of what he wrote: “whereas the wisdom that comes from above is essentially something pure” or “it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good”. St. James is reminding us of the fruits of holiness in our lives as Christians individually and corporately. So let us go through what appears to be the training process of Christian athletes.
We begin in our baptism, the time when we are taken to the font and made one with Christ and the Church in the waters of baptism. It continues in our faithful participation in the Work of God in prayer, worship, reflection, confession. It will have been re-affirmed in our confirmation and first holy communion leading to our regular communion Sunday by Sunday. All this aided by regular reading of scripture and spiritual writings. A long list, without doubt, but a list for those serious in their intent to be Christian athletes. And it is here that the analogy breaks down, for from this list I have deliberately omitted one detail and it is this; whilst we may strive, as did those cyclists, God in Jesus has already done it for us!
St. James was writing to Christians to say not that, ‘these things are what you have to do to show your allegiance to Christ’, but rather, ‘when you give your life to Christ, these things flow from that giving’.
I am quite convinced that Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and now Simon Yates all ride simply for the joy of doing so; they love their sport. I am also convinced that each and every one of us loves our Lord Jesus, and that we are here simply for the joy of being here. So if British cyclists love their sport as we love Christ and practise and train to show that love, should not we in our turn practise and train, should we not in fact so co-operate with the Grace of God that we show in our lives the “fruits of holiness”; not Grand Tours but golden lives, lives
shot through with love, kindness, service, actions, words, thoughts of God, that we shine out in that bit of the world that we inhabit as those who rejoice in the name of Christian, to the glory of God and to the service of humanity.
St. James is quite clear in what he writes to us: if you give your lives to Christ, if you call yourself Christian, then gifts of grace will flow through your lives out into the world for the glory of God and for the service of humanity.
So let us rejoice in the name of Christ. Let us simply show how our lives have been changed, are being changed, by the Grace of God, so that in this place there is no “jealousy or ambition”, no “dishonesty and wicked things”, but rather, “peace”, “compassion”, “doing good”, “no particularity or hypocrisy”.
Father, for your Holy Church:
Keep her faithful to the example of Christ, that she may always live in love and joy of You.
Father, for your troubled world:
May women & men of goodwill work for the reconciliation of all who would fight and kill
Father, for our life together in this place:
May we be known as those who live lives filled with your Grace and show the fruits of holiness.
Father, for those who suffer illness and loneliness:
May they be healed and comforted by our service of you in them. Amongst the sick we pray for ..... & amongst the housebound for ....
Father, for those who have died:
May all who have died come to true life in heaven. For .... who have recently died and .... whose years’ mind falls this week.
Father, hear the prayers of our hearts.
Father, for our aid:
Be pleased to hear the intercession of the saints in glory for us especially St. Martin of Tours our patron and our Holy Mother Mary who with the archangel we greet and say: Hail Mary ....
A PRAYER FOR OUR PARISH
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.