The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

St. Martin's Church Street

Salisbury

Wiltshire

SP1 2HY

01722 503123

saintmartins.salisbury@gmail.com

Church of England Salisbury Diocesan Forward in Faith The Society
 
Sarum St. Martin

you are here: sarum st martin's: priest in charge

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

Lent 5 2020

Fortunately, I have never smoked cigarettes, apart from one summer when I tried them and came very quickly to dislike the burning taste and the smell of a lit cigarette.   Similarly, I really do hate the clinging smell of cigarette smoke on my clothes and in my hair.  So all in all I really am very glad that in that summer when I tried to smoke cigarettes I did not have the persistence to continue, which of course means that I have never had to give up smoking cigarettes, which I am told by friends who do smoke is a very, very difficult thing to achieve.  Many, if not most smokers do seem to want to stop.  After all, they have seen the medical evidence of the life-threatening effects of smoking.  They too may have got fed up with their clothes smelling like an ash tray.  Yet, they find it very, very hard to stop.  In their rational minds they understand that they should stop, but they don’t.  Lent reminds us that sin clings to us, rather like cigarette smoke, and only Christ can remove that clinging sins

Sin is a disease; sin is like smoking.  For as long as we continue in sin, so long as our symptoms remain, we are quite happy to delude ourselves into thinking that all is ok.  We could, like the smoker viewing all of the medical evidence, even the gruesome pictures of the affected parts of their bodies, still say to ourselves, as the smoker does, I don’t need to change, because I am alright.  Every smoker knows someone who smoked sixty a day and lived to 99!  Like the smoker the sinner refuses to face the truth of the situation, smoking will kill; sinning will kill the soul!  So why does the smoker not stop smoking? Presumably because the smoker enjoys it too much to do anything real about it.  The sinner also presumably enjoys the sin too much to want to do anything about it.  And it may even be that the sinner fears to give up sin, fears the self-knowledge that needs to be faced when the sinner gives up sinning, for self-knowledge involves knowledge of God, and the sinner cannot face the knowledge of God unless he is prepared to renounce everything in himself which stands against God, and that may be almost the whole of his existing self.  In this sense for the sinner it is true as the Old Testament frequently attests, that, ‘no man can see God and live’; that is, in the light of God’s presence that compound of sins and follies which he thinks of and prizes as ‘himself’ must wither and die.  It is obvious that the attraction of sin to the sinner cannot be denied by the very person who obstinately clings to the sin.  The remedy must come therefore from without, for it cannot come from within such is our reluctance.  Some other person must inject into the sinner thoughts and motives by which that reluctance to change can be broken down; and that other person can only be Christ.

So far in the sermons of Lent I have spoken about our incorporation into Christ; He is part of us as confessing Christians.  In this final Lenten sermon I want us to see Christ as also external to us, for it is Christ who is the other person who will inject into the sinner thoughts and motives by  which the sinners’ reluctance to change can be broken down.

Fr David Fisher

God desires to draw us to Himself.  This conception of God ‘drawing’ us to Him is found in both the Old and New Testaments; ‘I have drawn them with bands of love’, says God through the prophet Hosea.  ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to me’, says the incarnate Christ.  By what does He draw?  By His beauty.  And where does that beauty lie?  Not in physical form or feature, not in the words that He speaks taken simply as words, but rather in the mighty acts of His birth, life, passion and resurrection.  It is the immensity of God who creates actually taking upon Himself the flesh of the created one, actually living as a man in obscurity, slandered, persecuted, put to death on a false charge with every circumstance of pain and disgrace, that draws us to Him. It is also the unconquerable patience of He who endures all this, and after it all is with us more powerfully and more intimately even than before.  He sent His messengers and we killed them.  He came Himself  and we killed Him.  There is nothing more that we can do.  Yet, He returns from the dead, glorious and strong and wholly undiscouraged; the voice which we thought we had silenced fills the world and pierces the soul.  This immeasurable humility and patience, this ability to receive the full impact of hatred and indifference and to go on undeterred, this is the way in which God draws us to Himself.

Next Sunday does Holy Week begin in the Palm Procession in which we enter the Holy City of Jerusalem.  By the end of that week will the death and resurrection of the Christ be achieved.  And in and through that death and resurrection will Jesus, the incarnate God whom we strive to follow, effect for us in despite of us, our salvation.  We will truly celebrate the immensity of the God who creates actually taking upon Himself the flesh of the created one, and actually living as a man in obscurity, slandered, persecuted, put to death on a false charge with every circumstance of pain and disgrace. We will celebrate the unconquerable patience of He who endures all this, and after it all is with us more powerfully and more intimately even than before. And so, as Lent draws to its conclusion and Our Lord walks out from the desert and into the city, let these few Lenten days left make us face the reality of our need for Christ within us giving life, and Christ without us showing that life.  Let us stop deluding ourselves as so many smokers, so many sinners do, and love the Lord and respond to Him, that we may truly know and enjoy the Glory of God.

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.

© Sarum St Martin's Church 2012 - 2020

Designed by Sarum Web Design