Sermon: 12th January 2020

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Conflicted Cousins

Conflicted Cousins

Sermon SASK 12 January 2020             Readings: Isaiah 42.1-9 and Matt 3.13-17

We are going to think about conflict today and consider there are two sides to it – a positive and a negative side.

The musical concept of harmony helps me… 

Wally Armbruster says. “If everybody’s singing the same note that is not harmony.   That, baby, is monotony.

Harmony happens when people sing different notes … and even some which sound (at first) discordant suddenly start to sound great … once your ear gets used to the idea.”  

Helping everyone understand the real differences between ideas such as conflict and fight, harmony and monotony, can offer rich insights into our personal, family, congregational and global life.

I have to be honest, as the bible is upfront early in its first book Genesis.

 Here Cain and Abel appear as protagonists in a representative story telling a deep truth.

The truth is that conflict happens between siblings in families – they are brothers! It happens between neighbours, it happens at work when someone is commended or promoted unfairly.  It happens between farmers who tend the soil and those who husband livestock. It happens in fishing when people ignore boundaries, it happens in politics when representatives begin to put their clan, tribe, family or religion first!  Conflict can be helpful and creative and worthwhile. However, it is as old as time and the first story is from Genesis 4 and it ends in the worst possible outcome – a death….

Adam (which means humankind) and Eve (which means life) have two sons and they do not agree… This is what Lakshmi read,

“Abel became a shepherd, but Cain was a farmer. After some time Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the LordThen Abel brought the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best parts of it as an offering. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering… Cain became furious, and he scowled in anger. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why that scowl on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling;[b] but because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it.”

Lets come out of the story Note here that Cain has made bad choice some mistake or error of judgement, not fully expressed in the text. Now don’t we all make mistakes and the best thing is to stop and put your hand up and say, “Mea Culpa.” “I have made a mistake, I am to blame. Please forgive me, lets talk about it, sort it out and start again.” That is good practice and while it takes some time for trust to be rebuilt, we have learned a lesson for life. However we can try Cain’s approach. Lets see what he says and does.  

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out in the fields.”[c] When they were out in the fields, Cain turned on his brother and killed him.

The Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

( Cain has com founded his error he has broken God’s law by committing murder and he tries to bluff and cover his tracks. You cannot deceive the Creator!)

The Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

He answered, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The church is a human institution represented very honestly by the Bible

There is another way presented by the cousins who are – Jesus and John the Baptist.

13 At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to make him change his mind. “I ought to be baptized by you,” John said, “and yet you have come to me!”

15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.” So John agreed.

Matthew 11  When John the Baptist heard in prison about the things that Christ was doing, he sent some of his disciples to him. “Tell us,” they asked Jesus, “are you the one John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?”

What can these cousins do?  –

  1. They face the issue? 

Face the issues talk about them, raise awareness , invite everyone to contribute, give some tools ( Iain Goring’s visit) Congregation – KS

End with invitation – Vision and Issues

In his brief book on living with diversity, pastor and author Stephen Kliewer is correct in noting that “a church cannot just sit back and hope that [a safe environment] will develop naturally. The church leadership must consciously take the lead in the shaping of the atmosphere, developing a dynamic that will support the presence of diverse elements within the church.”

Bigger picture:

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and lighting on him. 17 Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.”

Jesus said,

“You have to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves!” Amen

Kirk Session Covenant to be read by the senior elder Graham de Kretser

A Covenant of Leadership for St Andrew’s Scots Kirk, Colombo  (A First draft)

“ … The Lord has told us what is good.

What he requires of us is this:

to do what is just,

to show constant love,

and to live in humble fellowship with our God.”

                                                                                                                  Micah 6.8

Our Promises to God

  • We promise to pray, alone and together, to thank God and to ask for God’s help in our lives and in our work for our church, and we promise to listen to God’s answer to us.

Our Promises to Our Church Family

  • We promise to demonstrate our leadership and commitment by our example.
  • We promise to support our ministers and staff, so their efforts can be most productive.
  • We promise to work together for what is best for our church as a WHOLE.

Our Promises to Each Other on the Kirk Session

  • We promise to respect and care for each other.
  • We promise to treat our time on the Session as an opportunity to make an important gift to our church.
  • We promise to listen with an open, non-judgmental mind to the words and ideas of others in our church and on the Session.
  • We promise to work towards expressing ourselves openly, honestly and clearly, recognising differences of opinion.
  • We promise to support the final decision of the Session, whether it reflects our view or not.

Our Commitment to the Congregation

  • We promise to seek and consider the opinions of our members regarding our direction and vision at least once each year.
  • We will seek to enable the congregation to grow in faith through our worship and service locally and by creating a harmonious fellowship. Worship, education, service, belonging and outreach.
  • We will follow up on complaints of poor behaviour from our leaders or members.
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