Open my heart that my lips may speakThy
Word so that it may be understood and hearts be opened to receive It. Amen.
Here is an
old Hasidic saying:
When a child walks down the road, a company
of angels goes before him proclaiming, “Make way for the image of the Holy
And once that was more than
true. Once upon a time, there was a child who walked down the dusty streets
of Nazareth, in Israel. His name was Jesus. The details of much of His
childhood and youth of Christ are denied us -- other than those brief
glimpses of him being presented at the temple for His circumcision, at the
wedding in Cana and learning from the rabbis at the temple in Jerusalem.
But what of the days and years when he was a babe at Mary’s breast learning
to walk and talk and working at Joseph’s side? We know so little of all
those days of growing and learning and living among us until he grew into
the full and whole Jesus that inspires us each day.
I love to imagine what it
must have been like for Him to be a carefree child with favourite dishes
that His mother prepared, with playmates and chores; with time to daydream
and being tucked into bed at night. It must have been a magic time for
Him: being loved and protected and cared for: Jesus, the one whose love
would be for all humanity, for all time.
How did those simple days
growing up in a carpenter’s home with a family around him impact on His
mission here on earth? It was only after more than thirty, virtually
unrecorded, but oh so formative years, that His great mission began and
ended only three short years later.
Yet, even in His death, His
very humanness startles me. Here was our God, subjecting Himself to this
phony court and allowing mere mortals to beat and crucify him: He was able
at any moment to strike them all down or just to fly away himself. And yet
it was His human side that was seen. The most human Christ cried that most
poignant and human cry: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is
the ultimate cry of despair that the human lips can utter.
And who among us has not felt
abandoned by God and everyone else, alone, forsaken, worthless . . .
But if it was all right for
Christ to cry out in fear and pain and suffering, well then, we can too.
Being a believer does not
mean we never suffer. It does not mean that we never have doubts. It does
not mean that every day is perfect or that we are. It does mean that we are
never unloved. We are never alone. It does mean that we are never without
help. It does mean that the man who defeated death is on our side with
great outpourings of love and with compassion.
The utter brilliance of God
is proven in Christ’s life. Having lived as one of us, having experienced
the great heart of Joseph and the mothering of Mary, the pitfalls and joys
of growing up and discovering the wonders of His Father’s world as only a
child can do, he developed that love that shines through the New Testament,
a very different sort of love for humanity than is found in the Old
Each Sunday we encounter the
many generations of our Faith in the lessons that are read. From Genesis we
learn of the beginnings, from Psalms we raise our voices in praise and
wonder and in the stories of the Gospels and Epistles we experience the very
life of Jesus and His earliest followers . . . those very human friends of
In to-day’s Gospel reading,
Matthew recorded a day in Christ’s life. Jesus had just received the most
horrible news of his friend, John the Baptist. This man, who had been sent
to herald Christ’s coming, the man who had baptized him, the man who had
just been so cruelly executed, his saintly head displayed on a platter to
satisfy the wickedness of a woman whose sin had been challenged by John.
In a very human response,
Christ sought solitude to be alone with the grief and pain He must have
felt. Undoubtedly He would have wanted to pray and remember and honour his
But his attempt to escape was
thwarted by the crowds who followed Him.
The great heart of Jesus
could not resist their needs. His compassion denied Him the respite he was
seeking and He turned away from his refuge to care for them. First, He
healed the sick, the lame and the blind. And then he spoke to the people.
He ministered to all their many needs.
And, when the day was ending
and His disciples very sensibly asked Him to send the people home so that
they would be able to get dinner, He said “No”.
Ever the provider for His
people, He insisted they remain and be fed. And what was there to feed
them? Where were supplies to be found for thousands and thousands of hungry
people: men, women and children? It must have felt like our food bank some
days, as the disciples searched for food and could find only five barley
loaves and two small fishes. It is a sign of their deep faith that they even
bothered to bring such a meager offering to Christ. Yet, after His blessing,
everyone was fed and twelve full baskets of leftovers remained.
The wonderful thing is that
nothing has changed in the intervening two thousand years. Christ is still
engaged in meeting our every need with the overflowing bounty of his
Just like you and I, Jesus
had choices to make in His life. As a child he chose to hang about the
temple, fascinated with learning of His heavenly Father instead of going
home with the others, leaving Mary and Joseph to search and worry, fearing
what might have become of Him. He chose to spare the newlyweds from the
embarrassment of having the wine run out at their wedding. He chose to calm
the sea and feed the multitude and heal the sick. He chose His disciples
from fishermen and tradesmen, from those he healed and those who served
Him. And he chose to call each one of us to Him.
Now it is our time of
choice. We can choose to be sad or to be happy. We can choose to try or to
give up. We can choose death or we can choose eternal life. We can choose
Jesus or we can turn away. Living is all about choices. It is now up to
you and what you will choose . . .
There is an old hymn that goes . . .
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me . . .
Come home, come home;
ye who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!
Sometimes I think He is
calling so softly that we just don’t hear Him. But if we listen he is there
. . . earnestly and tenderly calling us. The Home he is calling us to is
not one of stone and mortar. It is not this church building.
It is the Home each heart
longs for, where one is loved and cared for and where one can safely and
freely love in return. So, on His behalf, I want to echo that sweet call,
“Come home, come home, Jesus is calling come home!”