“Why should we share?” a sermon for Harvest

Have a look under your seats. Is there anything there?

Some people have a small packet of sweets, some have a bigger packet, and some have no sweets.

What could the people who have sweets do with them? [Ask for suggestions, which are certain to include “share them”.]

One of the things you could do with your sweets, if you have some, is share them. We all know that sharing is a good thing to do. But why? What’s so good about sharing? Why should we share? [Ask for suggestions.]

We don’t share just because it shows what good, nice people we are. We don’t share just because we hope other people will share with us. There are other, bigger reasons for sharing.

In today’s first reading we heard “you glorify God… by the generosity of your sharing.”

We share because it is part of what God’s kingdom is like. Sharing is part of not only the generosity but also the justice of God’s kingdom.

But maybe you’re thinking “hang on, these are my sweets, I don’t want to share them”! Perhaps it’s easier to see like this: suppose instead of lots of little bags of sweets, we have one big bag, which doesn’t belong to anyone in particular, but is all of ours? What should we do with the sweets then?

It’s obvious that we should share them between us.

That’s much closer to how it is with the gifts God gives us. Our food, our water, our planet, our very life is a gift from God which is given to everyone, for everyone, for the common good. Like with the big bag of sweets, there is no “mine” and “yours” – only “ours”. And it is up to us to act in a way that shows that.

The way God gives to us is not like everyone having a little packet of sweets, which we can choose to share, or not share. It’s like everyone having one big bag of sweets to share. And if the sharing has gone wrong, and some people have loads of sweets while others have none, then it’s up to us to sort that out.

The nature of belonging in God’s kingdom is to be equally concerned for our neighbour as ourselves – in which case it makes no sense to say “yours” or “mine” but only “ours”

So when we give at Harvest, and other times, we are not just being generous with what is ours, but doing our bit to restore justice in what is God’s. There are all sorts of reasons why some people in the world have more and some have less, but that inequality is not the way God’s kingdom should be.

God doesn’t make distinctions – rich or poor, deserving or undeserving, or anything else. All are equal heirs to the kingdom of God, and should have an equal share in God’s gifts.

This justice and equality is part of what we celebrate in Communion – all are equal sharers at Christ’s table.

At Harvest, we thank God for all the gifts of creation, and commit to playing our part in sharing those gifts more equally. Our sharing reflects both the generosity and the justice of God’s kingdom, and so brings glory to God.

Amen.

 

Advertisements

Celebrating baptism with a Teddy Bears’ Picnic

At All Saints, we give a Baptism Bear to each person who is baptised here. Many thanks to Simon Cutmore for this idea – you can read more about it on his blog. These are lovely hand-knitted bears which are given to children (and adults!) to remind them of their baptism.

But this is something we’ve only started doing recently, so there are lots of children who have been baptised at All Saints before that point and therefore don’t have a Baptism Bear. We have been looking for ways to reconnect with our baptism families, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

We sent invitations to every child who has been baptised here in the last 5 years, inviting them to come to a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and to bring their families, godparents, and a bear. And what a great response we had! 27 children and 31 adults attended the picnic, and we gave out Baptism Bears to 19 children who were baptised here.

We provided a simple picnic (indoors!) and played some fun games – musical bumps, pin-the-nose-on-the-bear, hide-and-seek, balloon games, etc. We also parachuted bears from the balcony (sadly no photos of that!) which caused a great deal of excitement!

20170923_131446.jpg

And in among all the fun and laughter and catching up with people we haven’t seen for a while, we renewed the promises made at our baptism. This was a very brief and informal piece of liturgy – we responded to the 4 questions in the baptism liturgy with a loud “I do”, watched as the paschal candle was lit, were liberally sprinkled with holy water, and ended with the Lords Prayer (with actions).

20170923_133724

20170923_133739

The children who hadn’t previously received a Baptism Bear were presented with one. We also read a bear-themed picture book about love (“The Best Present” by Jane Bingham and Rosalind Beardshaw), briefly linked that to God’s love, and talked a little bit about baptism.

20170923_134513.jpg

The whole event was very relaxed and informal, and seemed to be enjoyed by children of all ages, and the adults too. We had several conversations with people who would like to start coming to church more regularly, and some who are planning to bring a younger child for baptism.

We will follow up the event with an email to thank people for coming, share photos, and inform them about events coming up for children at All Saints, as well as our regular children’s groups.

“You are called” – a sermon on vocation for back-to-school Sunday

Our first reading – “love one another” – reiterates Jesus’ central teaching. Love really is all you need.

“Love one another”.

That is very easy to say and very difficult to do.

So, how do we love one another?

Two weeks ago, a few of us were at Greenbelt. We heard and saw and experienced a huge range of exciting, challenging, interesting stuff. Some of it might even be life-changing. I want to share with you today something I picked up.

The organisation Inclusive Church was asking everyone to think about vocation. They had some question cards to get people thinking, which we’ll explore together this morning.

Those of you who study Latin might know that the word vocation comes from “vocare” – to call. Our vocation is what God calls us to.

Vocation is an often misunderstood term. In church, we too often talk about “vocation” only in terms of priesthood and other recognised, authorised, official ministries.

At school we might hear “vocation” being used to refer to particular jobs, like being a teacher or a doctor. It’s part of the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” conversation.

All of this is to misunderstand the nature of vocation, what it is to be called by God.

We all have a vocation. We are all called by God. From the youngest to the oldest, from the most confident to the least. God is calling you.

Some vocations are the work of a lifetime. Some of those are jobs – being a vicar, or a teacher, or a carer, or a gardener.

Other vocations are less about what we do than who we are and how we live. Some people have a lifelong calling to be a good listener, or to encourage others, or to organise things. Those are all vocations which I know people in this church have, and often we are not as good as we should be at recognising and valuing the way all these and many other vocations contribute to our life together.

Not all vocations last a lifetime. There are some things God calls us to for a particular time, or at a particular stage of life. A particular task or way of living for that time. Perhaps some of you will be taking on more responsibilities at school or work, or discovering something you didn’t know you could do. That could be part of your vocation for now.

This time of year, as we start the new school year, is a great time to think about our vocation. What is it that God is calling you to, now?

The questions that Inclusive Church asked people at Greenbelt were:

What gives you life?

Where would you like to go?

What do you need to let go of?

Where do you see God in the world?

What are you passionate about?

The cards with these questions will be available for you to discuss over coffee after church. But for now I’d like us to concentrate on that last question.

[Discuss with neighbour – feedback.]

Vocation isn’t something you do when you grow up, or something you might do at some point in the future, or something that “isn’t for people like us”. Vocation is what God is calling you to, right here, right now.

God calls all sorts of people, to all sorts of things, and often the most unlikely people to the most unlikely things. So keep an open mind about what God might be calling you, and others, to.

God calls us all, in all sorts of ways, to love one another. The vocations we have are – as the theme of this year’s Greenbelt says – “for the common good”.

You are called. Called by God. Called for the common good. Called to love one another.

But a call is nothing without a response. I wonder how you will respond to God’s call? Over to you!