Sermon: Comfort and Love

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Preached on 11th February 2007
by Reverend Keith Harbour

1.      WE ARE COPY CATS!  Speeding down the motorway.  Fashion. Coughing in the picture house.  COPY CATS.

2.      If you could be someone else, who would you like to be?  Sports Personality. Pop star. Politician. It tells us something about ourselves. Do you have a Role Model, someone you copy your life on?

3.      What do you want most of all - (a) Health, (b) Wisdom, (c) Wealth, (d) Popularity? Have a show of hands. 

What did the Leper want most of all? 

What did the hungry 5,000 want most of all? 

What did the lame, the deaf , the blind want most of all.

I think the Leper was the only man Jesus told to ‘Go to church'. But he healed him first, no bargain.  When the 5,000 were hungry he didn't feed just the churchgoers, or just the nice people, he fed them all, he knew what they wanted and he fed them.  Some might have been bad people, cheats, liars, murderers, Jesus still fed them.

4.      In Jesus God became one of us, like you and me.  He understands who we are, what makes us tick, what things we really want,.  Jesus knows what makes us laugh and what makes us cry.

5.      People were afraid of Lepers, they avoided them, afraid they would catch the disease. ‘Leviticus' says they are unclean and must keep shouting out. Can you imagine how it must have felt to be a Leper?   Shouting out all the time:- "Unclean!  Unclean! Unclean!"

When Jesus touched the Leper, he was doing something very special.  He was saying to the Leper (and to the people who were watching) I am prepared to catch the disease, I will be a Leper. Lepers are not unclean! God loves them, just as much as he loves anyone else.

6.      A ROBERT wanted a puppy.  Mam and Dad couldn't afford a puppy together with all the food etc.  Who would take the puppy out for exercise and clean up any mess?  But ROBERT was determined, he wanted a puppy, Mam and Dad promised if he could afford one and looked after it, he could have one.   ROBERT went to the  Pet Shop, a big cage of tiny puppies.  He asked how much they cost and said he'd be back in a week or two to buy one.  "You'd better not be long, they sell very quickly." "The one I want will still be there!" 

ROBERT went to work, washed windows, did gardening, helped with a ‘Paper Round', made enough money to buy the puppy, and some food and a  lead.  Back to the shop, 2 puppies were left, he paid his money, went to pick up the Puppy he'd longed for. "Don't pick that one, he's lame, the other will make a much better pet to run and play with!" "This is the one I really want and I'm taking him." 

The assistant shrugged her shoulders.  Then she noticed ROBERT limp out of the shop, and saw, attached to one very large shoe, a metal calliper.   She knew, she understood, why ROBERT  wanted that puppy.

7.        ROBERT reckoned he knew how that puppy felt and he knew that despite it's handicap it was very special and he wanted to be with the puppy and let the puppy know he had an understanding friend.

8.      That, for me, is a JESUS STORY,  Jesus knew how the Leper felt and to prove it he touched him.  He knew the Leper was special, and he wanted to help him.  He made him better. And He told him to go to church so that a Priest would verify that the cure was permanent, not just on the surface, but a deep and a lasting cure.

9.      In 2 Corinthians chapter 1, we learn that God gives us something, ‘Comfort'.  I like to think it's a bit like Perfume, we catch it, and others will notice it, and catch it too -  COMFORT.

ESSENTIAL OIL, touch it, breathe it, put it in the bath, rub it into your skin, it rubs ONTO you, and soaks INTO you, and becomes part of you.  Not Holy Water or Incense, just a very simple example of how the comfort of God is very sweet, very strong, it becomes part of us and is very easily passed on.

10.    Another word Christians use is like the COMFORT St. Paul talks of in 2 Corinthians.  LOVE, a very special gift that God gives, deep in our hearts, more precious than any essential oil, that can be washed off and will fade away. LOVE goes much deeper.  LOVE separates us from the world of greed and selfishness and shows we belong to God, for ever.

LOVE makes us become a bit like ROBERT .  

We're not crippled, but we begin to understand people who are, like Jesus did.  We're not hungry and starving, but we begin to understand people who are, like Jesus did.  We may not be filled with grief, or loneliness, or pain, but we begin to understand something of how horrible it is for those people who are, like Jesus did.

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