simple white fading png image

notre dame montreal


Sermon for Ordinary 15

Sermon for Ordinary 29 Trinity 18 Year C

The Reverend Canon Charles Royden

Early Mornings
If you read the biographies of great Christians quite frequently you will read of how they get up very early and spend long periods in prayer or bible study. There seems to be something saintly about the early morning. It just doesn’t work if you say that you stay up late at night. I don’t know why, perhaps there is the thought that at night alcohol might be involved. Staying up late is frowned upon

Aristotle wrote, in his Economics, that
“Rising before daylight is … to be commended; it is a healthy habit.” 

Benjamin Franklin, of course, framed the same sentiment in catchier terms:
“Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Lose an hour in the morning, said 19th-century philosopher Richard Whately,
‘and you will be all day hunting for it.’
So we get all these stories of the super humans who exhibit this wonderful
Condoleeza Rice was said to get up at 4.30am and then go the gym

With the rise of the call to greater and great human productivity, more recently, there has been a push for ever earlier work starts, conference calls, and yes even the once unthinkable

‘breakfast meetings’,

Well some of us are owls and some of us are larks. I am most certainly not a lark, I don’t like mornings at all. I love that snooze button on my Iphone alarm. I would like to say I am an owl, I used to be an owl but I now find that a bit difficult too. Corinne is a Lark she always gets up bright and breezy and she also manages to work quite late as well.  But of course you're not supposed to be up late working and so I will let you into a secret which Corinne has taught me. When you work and you send off your emails instead of sending them you can schedule when the computer sends them for early in the morning. So you can be writing stuff at midnight and then it goes off next morning at 4.30am and you can say, just off to the gym.

This is for those who are not the great giant, the ones who might be tempted to give up the ones who feel discouraged.

Watchman Nee the great Chinese Evangelist and Christian teacher advocated early morning waking and quoted  Proverbs 26:14 says,

"As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed."   

That is the equivalent of pressing the snooze button. He also writes that if you have difficulty you should ‘instruct your servant or someone else to wake you up in the morning’.  Ah well if I had a servant to put the kettle on and butter my croissant that might be a better waking up experience all round. Martin Luther the great reformer apparently got up every morning at 4am, even earlier that Condoleeza Rice.

Ok so these super Christians put me to great shame and I might be discouraged. Except for the fact that the passage today is about the persistent widow. You might think by listening to the parable that this that it is an encouragement to get up early every morning and spend hours in prayer bothering Jesus and asking him for things - but it is not.

The parable is prefaced with these words

‘Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.’    

This parable is not about persistence in prayer or badgering God until he gives in like one of those dreadful parents in Tesco’s who give in when their children scream so loudly that buying a bag of sweets is preferable to causing a public disturbance.

There are two things which are brought out of the parable of importance.

Firstly the caring nature of God. Jesus says that the uncaring judges is the exact opposite of what God is like. God is not like the uncaring judge who is uncaring and thinks only of his own position. God is patient and want to help his people. When you speak to God start from that position, God is on your side. You do not have to convince God to want to help you, you are his child and therefore it is a given that you are loved and heard. 

Secondly your humanity and frailty. Jesus uses the illustration of the unjust judge to show that God is the opposite. He uses the illustration of the widow to show what we are like.

Let me explain

 Widows at the time of Jesus were easily spotted, they had to dress in black and were veiled.  The expression is used in the Book of Judith of wearing ‘Widows Weeds.’  Since girls married in their early teens , widows were numerous and sometimes not very old at all. Widows were left with no means of support. If her husband died and left an estate she did not inherit it, (although provision could be made for her upkeep). If she remained in her husbands family she had an inferior, almost servile  position.

If she returned to her own family then the money exchanged at the wedding had to be given back.

Widows were so victimised that they were often sold as slaves for debt. 

Widows were

· vulnerable,

· they were fearful of the future,

· they were subject to forces beyond their control.

When Jesus tells this parable he Is speaking to people who felt like that widow. Jesus knows that  knows that there most of us are not super human Christians. He tells the parable for normal folks like you and me who press the snooze button because we get tired because we do not have servants.

Jesus wants his ordinary disciples to know that

·           at times when we feel like we have run out of rope God is with us and we should not give             up. 

· Jesus wants to give reassurance that God has given up on you, your prayers are not falling on God’s deaf ears because you do not get what you ask for.

· God wants you to be in touch in prayer knowing that the things we all desire, like world peace and an end to disease and suffering will one day be known - butt hat will be in the future of God’s kingdom.

Don’t give up, hold fast the faith, sometimes it might feel that evil has the upper hand, there may be times when we are utterly discouraged, but hold on because God is good, he is on your side and he will bring about that day when all will be well.