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Homilies from Nola Crewe
31st July 2005

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 One.” 

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 Testament. 

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 Christ. 

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 lost friend.

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 blessings.

 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!”


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