Ambassador

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Sunday 2nd July 2017 – St Michael, Heckfield

Jeremiah 28.5-9; Matthew 10.40-42

I wonder how many of us have enjoyed dressing up as children?

Perhaps we won’t admit to it! Ballet dancer? Or enjoyed Superman Costumes of our Children? Ours were always in capes!  Perhaps your profession requires you to dress in uniform? Army? Peter? Tesco? Police? Scouting?                        

All of them tell others who you represent. People perhaps adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Have you ever jumped with nerves at the man in the yellow jacket with the parking meter?

 

Mark is robed today

He has his stole straight down, which indicates that he is now a priest in the Church of England. Yesterday he made promises, and he has been prayed for by our Bishops in Winchester Cathedral.

The role of a priest, there are so many aspects: – he represents us to God in prayer

– and God to us in the way he lives. A priest is to be a piece of transparent glass through which we can see a glimpse of the glory of God. Someone who will draw others to find God.

But we are all called to be priests – and I come to that later

 

Today’s readings speak of those who represent God

Firstly, Jeremiah – such a challenging man. A prophet – with words from God – to call people to true faith. He has to challenge another person who claims to be God’s mouthpiece but who is not true. Jeremiah says that if the words of the prophet do not come true, then they would be seen as a false prophet – and seriously denounced because they lead people astray! What they say does not happen. A false lead.

 

Have you ever bought a “magic gadget”?

I am thinking of the person who sets themselves up to sell you something on the street corner – the magic gadget – you are persuaded – spend the last bit of cash in the pocket – and get home – it breaks on first use! And nowhere to go back to return it.

Jeremiah says that this false prophet is no use. Jeremiah says that this false prophet is preaching peace, but instead of peace there is danger to come! The false words will lead people down the wrong way.

 

Matthew 10.

Jesus is speaking, a wonderful 3 verses that I will read again. He is speaking to twelve disciples. V40:

“He who receives you, receives me” [Jesus declares the disciples to be his representatives].

“He who receives me, receives the one who sent me” [he who receives Jesus, receives God the Father]. So Jesus declares himself to represent God. This implies his God-nature! Hidden in the words.

 

Ambassadors

The disciples are also now authorised and empowered to be the representatives, the ambassadors, of Jesus in the world. “This was a way of speaking that the people of Jesus’ day knew really well. To receive a person’s envoy or messenger was the same as to receive that person. To pay respect to an ambassador, was to pay respect to the king who had sent him.  To welcome with love the messenger of a friend, was the same as to welcome the friend.”

In the Eastern culture – it is still the same today. I remember arriving in scary Cairo, on a yellow taxi from the airport – taxi that seemed to have rusted away on the floor – and involved a bump with another car as the driver went madly around the roads. I did get to the Cathedral and Guest House safely. Visiting a CMS mission partner. And soon after arriving we went across to the Bishop’s house at 10pm. And Bishop Mouneer’s wife opened the door, and welcomed us in. She sent out at that late hour for some fizzy pop, and we sat in her sitting room and chatted about Guildford, ministry, UK, and Egypt. Not a hint of frustration at the hour, or inconvenience or unexpectedness. Nancy lived the principle of welcome of a Christian friend from the UK. We were so grateful.

 

Rewards

Jesus is commending anyone who welcomes a brother or sister in Christ because they represent him in some way. If the person is a prophet – an official Spokesman for God - and they are welcomed, the welcomer will receive a reward from God. If the person is righteous man - possibly travelling ministers – church planters – missionaries who are not prophets?

Anyone who welcomes these – will receive the same reward from God that these people receive. If a cup of cold water is given to one of these little ones – means not children – but ordinary Christians – people who follow Jesus in their everyday lives – if a cup of water is given to them because they are a Christian – then the giver will receive a reward

 

  • “There is God, out of whose love the whole process of salvation began
  • There is Jesus, who brought that message to men and women
  • There are the human messengers, the prophets who speak, the good people who are examples, the disciples who learn, who in turn all pass on the good news which they have themselves received
  • There are the believers, who welcome God’s messengers, and God’s message and therefore find life for their souls”

 

So there is something very lovely for everyone here today

We celebrate Mark’s ordination, and pray for him to be a good ambassador for Christ, every moment of every day. The task involves discerning the false teaching from the good. It is a big ask, and only possible with Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit, and the discipline of life from following in Jesus’ footsteps. We cannot all preach and proclaim God’s word. But we can all represent Christ in the world. And those who give God’s messenger the simple gift from their generous hospitality, will receive no less a reward than that prophet. Those who support the prophets and priests often work hard behind the scenes. I want to say thank you especially to Rosie and team for today’s refreshments.

 

The great beauty of this Gospel reading is its stress on simple things

“The church and Christ will always need the great orators, shining saints, teachers. But the church and Christ will also always need those in whose homes there is hospitality and in whose hands there is all the service which makes a home. In whose hearts is the caring which is Christian love. All service ranks the same with God.”

 

Marion de Quidt, 2nd July 2017. St Michael, Heckfield.

(With thanks to the commentary of William Barclay)