St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Third Sunday after Trinity, 2014

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 “Madeleine, the sheep and Jesus...”
I speak in the name of Jesus the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
 
During the early part of May back in 2007, Shannon and I had the wonderful opportunity to upgrade our living arrangements to a slightly bigger apartment in Parklands. It was a special time for me as I was just settling into a new teaching position at Reddam House and I was adjusting fairly well to being single again.
 
At the same time of my move and unpacking into Cherry Lane, a family of two doctors and their children were taking a well-deserved break from their pressurised routine in London. The family had flown to Portugal and were enjoying the facilities of a well-known tourist destination, namely Praia da Luz, a resort in the Algarve region of Portugal. Here, a young girl was on holiday with her twin siblings, her parents, as well as a group of family friends and their children. Nothing abnormal about that... so far...
 
On the evening of the 3rd of May, 2007, the two parents left their children asleep in the ground floor apartment while they went out to dine in a restaurant fifty metres away. The dutiful parents kept on checking on their three children throughout the evening until they noticed during a routine check at ten pm, that their little girl was missing...
 
And so started a world-wide search that continues to this very day.
 
In today’s Gospel reading we are reminded of the wonderful parable of the lost sheep. What a brilliant story that continually reminds us all of the unconditional love that God has for us all.
 
This parable explains how a shepherd, symbolic of Christ, refuses to leave one lost sheep behind. This message has enormous impact on us as Christians who are lost in our journey of faith. 
What this message implies is that:
 No matter how lost we are in our journey of faith, 
No matter how far we have strayed from our communion with God
No matter how much we have sinned in our lives
No matter how little we have gone to church
No matter how little we have got onto our knees and prayed
No matter how little we have read our Bible
God loves us...
And He will always continue to seek for us, search for us, and look for us until we are one again with Him.
 
I recently had the opportunity to read an uplifting book, entitled Some Day I’ll Find You, an autobiography written by HR Williams. Williams was a Fellow and Lecturer in Theology at Trinity College, Cambridge. Later on in life he became a member of the Anglican Order of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield. He is widely regarded as an original theological thinker, who has made Christianity clear for many, as well as a preacher and counsellor of great influence.
 
What really stood out for me in his book, like all great spiritual leaders I have come to realise, is that Williams really struggled with God, hence the title of his book, Someday I’ll find you. He never claimed to have arrived in terms of his personal spirituality and remained transparent and open about his struggle.
 
This is well encapsulated in Chapter 15 where Williams discusses his understanding of himself. He describes himself as consisting of a number of “me’s”
 
The first me would be the me that we put on for the sake of other people.
The second me is the me that we put on for our own benefit.
The third me is the me that we lock away out of sight in a dark cupboard because we are too afraid to look at it.
The final me, is far more infinite, this is where God and fullness dwell, where the fullest self God dwells, the final me...
You see, what Williams was trying to say here is that God accepted him as he was, even though in so many of his me’s he remained lost to God, yet somehow God still met Williams in his life in a profound and distinct manner that he could not deny. 
Williams concludes by suggesting that for the other me’s to become part of the final me in God, the other me’s will have to die to what they have been in order to be raised up as living and active expressions of the final me.
 
This is a very profound statement that implies that many of us may have parts of our lives, ourselves, our personalities, our actions that are in fact, lost to God. Yet God, in His wisdom  and infinite love, does NOT give up on his lost sheep, but instead continues to hold the light of love, forgiveness and hope so that we may once again be complete in Him, and ultimately ourselves... and the fulfilment of the final me in God.
 
You may be still be thinking about the little girl who went missing back in 2007.
Her name is Madeleine McCann.
The reason that I included her in my sermon today, apart from the necessity of praying for her and her family, is that we can draw a parallel between how God will never give up on us as His sheep and how Madeleine’s parents will never give up in their search for their beautiful daughter until the truth is brought to fruition. You and I may well pray for Madeleine and be genuinely concerned for her well-being, but we soon carry on with the business of our lives and the thought of Madeleine is filed into the back of our minds until we are reminded of her plight once again. This is NOT so for Madeleine’s parents who think of their daughter every waking moment of their days and most probably, sleeping moments, as well. God, like the shepherd who will never sleep until all of His sheep are safe and sound, will never sleep until all of His people are safe in His care. 
 
God loves and cares for you and me, in spite of our failings and shortfalls.
I pray every day for Madeleine.
I also pray every day for you.
I also pray every day that all of our me’s may eventually become one me in Christ.
Are you aware of all of the me’s in your life?
Is there part of your life that is perhaps lost to Christ and needs to be found?
 
May God bless you in this week ahead as you focus on the various me’s in your life so that they become one in Him.
Amen.
 
 

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