Sunday worship on 20th September

A recording of Sunday worship at All Saints, with Revd Vanessa Lawrence, and team, in person and online.

And so may I speak in the name of God who is creator redeemer and sustainer Amen.

So is it just me or is the world feeling pretty miserable at the moment?
Who feels like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders?

Not only do we have a global pandemic reaching its second wave, there are some frightening governments in power across the world, an economic crisis that’s spiralling out of control, and an environmental catastrophe that’s playing out in front of us it’s certainly not doing much for my
levels of hope.

It’s very hard to feel hopeful with the weight of the world on your shoulders and the newspapers full of anxiety and crisis. When the pandemic started many of us I’m sure had a rush of adrenaline that
carried us through and certainly working in a hospital the energy levels were tangible. This played out into society with an outpouring of community spirit, everyone supporting each other, Now however the slightly tired and tatty looking thank you NHS Banners that remain flapping in the autumn air look perhaps as dispirited as we might feel.

Hope. Where is the hope in our gospel reading today that Joe read. Hopes are dashed – they’re raised – and they’re confounded beyond all expectation – such a kaleidoscope of hopes that are turned upside down. The workers who have worked for just an hour might hope for very little and yet receive much. Seeing this those who have worked all day make judgments, raise their expectations according to those judgments and their hopes are dashed. I want to think for a moment about those workers who are hired just before the end of the day. What have they been doing all day? Why are they hanging around waiting to be hired? The reality is that labour left in the market square at that time of day were likely to be the ones that nobody else wanted to hire: perhaps the elderly, perhaps the disabled, perhaps the infirm. Those perceived to be people who would be unable to work hard and be productive for the landowners. They would not have been chosen for work, and so they sit hoping for someone to come and hire them so that they and their families may be able to eat that day, and as day grew on their hopes were waning. Knowledge of another hungry night ahead growing with their hunger. Yet beyond all their hopes and expectations the landowner gives them a day’s pay for an hour’s work. Although in the eyes of society they have contributed little the landowner valued them and their contribution equally.

It’s a beautiful illustration of God’s love grace and overflowing abundance for every single one of us regardless of how much we are able to contribute regardless of how little hope we might have. I don’t know how God communicates with you but with me it’s generally a series of subtle
and sometimes not so subtle nudges. Last weekend I was sat in my
car in a car park in Romsey feeling pretty overwhelmed by life. I was wondering whether to get out of the car to go and do my errands or whether to just give up go home and have a bit of a cry, and as I sat there I had an out of the blue text from a friend asking me how I was, and this brief, connection lifted my spirits enough for me to stir myself get out of the car and go and do my errands. This I would class as a subtle God nudge.

On the way back to the car i noticed the Big Issue seller (and) bought a copy without really thinking about it and then noticed the front cover and
this is the not so subtle… God nudge, The front cover just blew me
away and I’ve got a copy of it here. It’s a picture of um done by Charlie
MacKesy and it says ‘sometimes all you hear about is the hate but there’s more kindness in this world than you could possibly imagine’. This Big issue is being um guest edited by Rutger Bregman and the the strap line is ‘cynicism is out hope is in’

Charlie MacKesy is one of my most favourite public figures at the moment
and not just because he draws pictures that include horses. His words themselves are always completely to the point and draw us into a deeper reality, a more hopeful reality. This exclusive image that Charlie MacKesy has drawn is drawn for an edition of the Big Issue that has Rutger Bregman
as its Guest Editor. Bregman is a Dutch historian and author and his basic premise echoing (that of) Charlie MacKesy is that deep down human beings have a deep longing for connection and friendship and that the majority of human beings are decent people trying to do their best in the
world.

In contrast to my less than hopeful introduction to this sermon Bregman and MacKesy have a more hopeful and more positive view of the future. For Rutger Bregman the recent protests, the peaceful protests that we have seen around the world, are demonstrating hope, igniting hope
and fuelling change. Protest stems from the hope of change. We wouldn’t protest if we didn’t think things could be different. Total cynics are not generally found on protest marches. Bregman points to the climate change
work of Greta Thunberg and the sad death of George Floyd, saying in response it’s hard not to feel hope. This might sound surprising but he goes on to explain how many brutal police killings have occurred and yet this one sparked a protest that united millions of people across the globe
in Black Lives Matter protests. How long have we debated climate change and yet Greta Thunberg one sixteen-year-old girl kick-starts the biggest climate change movement the world has ever seen. So maybe just maybe the world is changing for the better.

So hope compassion kindness and change. All of these are out there in abundance in a world awash with God’s grace. We here are agents of that hope and change. This pandemic may well be destructive and destabilising; anxiety provoking for every one of us, but we are people who radiate God’s love, who connect with our communities ,who provide hope as we reach out to others. Whether that’s in zoom conversations,
behind a mask at a two meter distance in the Co-Op, or lobbying our MP, engaging on social media or simply by performing good hand hygiene.

Cynicism is out and hope is in there is more kindness in the world than you could possibly imagine. Amen

Editorial declarations:

  • 6 January 2021: A video of this sermon, and the Post featured image were removed following a GDPR request. The sermon was transcribed and lightly edited for readability.

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