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notre dame montreal

 

Harvest Sermon

Harvest Festival 2017 - The Rev Dr Sam Cappleman

Harvest Time - God’s generosity and our responsibility

This is time of the year when we see empty fields that have been harvested.  As we see them we are reminded of God’s generous provision for us.  We’re also reminded to give thanks to Him for all He provides for us out of the riches of His grace.

The harvested fields serve as reminder of our responsibility to understand that, just as God has been generous to us, so we are to act responsibly and with accountability with what we have been given, and be equally generous with it, as God Himself has been.

Our Epistle reading contains what is probably and ancient Christian hymn or prayer.  It’s contained in one of Paul’s authentic epistle, probably written whilst he was in prison, in his letter to the Philippians.

The passage is sometimes known as the kenotic prayer from the Greek word ‘kenosis’, meaning emptying.

And because it’s a familiar passage it’s easy to jump over the first five verses, but these are equally important as they set the context for what Paul writes in the hymn/prayer itself.

Quite simply, Paul gives a short, succinct precis of the Christian faith.

  • Love one another
  • Put others first
  • Have the mind and self-giving attitude of Christ in all that you do

 

Put others first, look outwards rather than inwards and think less about yourselves

And if we put others first we can’t help but be generous with all that God has given us, our time, our talents and our resources

As God has been generous to us, so we are to be generous with others and act with responsibility and accountability.

Our doctrinal statements, our creeds and beliefs can only find their true fulfilment when we put our words into actions.  Empty doctrinal statements, however profound, were to Paul just that, empty.

The reality of what we believe was lived out by Christ, and, as Paul points out, that did not end in Christ’s death but in His resurrection and ascension.  And it’s because of this reality lived out, of a Christ who is alive, Paul claims the authority for his ministry under God.

In the gospel reading we hear of Jesus’ authority being questioned.  Rather than give a direct reply He lets the Chief Priests and elders work it out for themselves.  Jesus has just gone to Jerusalem and we are in the final chapter of His life.

He too speaks of the gift the Jews had been given and the responsibility those in authority have, those who are speaking to Him, to be generous with what they have been give and to share it with others.

As we know they were found wanting.  They had become more concerned about the institution and structures of their religion rather than the community and Kingdom of God.

Rather than be generous with what they had been given, a glimpse into what God is like and what His will for the world might be and sharing that with others, they looked to hold on to it and protect it for themselves.

They appears to say ‘Yes’ to what God offered to them but then did little with it.  Others, who came later, who the Jews might think had not said yes to God, did, and we know as a result of their generosity, and infections, appealing and compelling faith, the Kingdom grew.

For when we see the people of God truly living out the Kingdom, it is attractive and compelling.

Paul know that when he addressed the Philippians.  As God had been sacrificially generous with them and us in sending Jesus, so we are to be generous with what He has given us, both spiritually and materially as we live out our faith in our world.