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Sermon from the Vicarage

RayKhanEph 1.3-14 Spiritual Blessings in Christ

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.

With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as Gods own people, to the praise of his glory.

 

 

 

 

Holmes and Watson were discussing what they wanted for Christmas.

I would like a Yellow Door for Christmas, Watson

Why on earth do you want a yellow door, Holmes?
Lemon-entry my dear Watson

These days we have Amazon wish lists, and not so subtle hints that help us to choose the right present for that person. It often comes down to instinctive luck, I can remember buying a friend of mine who was a director of a banking software company a childs dart gun. He played with it for hours!

My wife Caroline, is different, she has a pressie drawer. And during the year she will spot a gift just right for family or friend. She takes a lot more care and preparation when it comes to presents.

Our reading from Ephesians lists the many gifts or blessings that we receive from Jesus. Paul starts by saying that in Jesus we have EVERY Spiritual Blessing. We have here a generous God. Paul lists some particular gifts that God gives to us.

We have been chosen by God, adopted into his family as Gods child, forgiven of our sins, enlightened regarding Gods plan for the ages, given an eternal inheritance, and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are about belonging to God, being a child, knowing God and experiencing God. Amazing gifts and we should be thankful for them.

But the real treasure is not the gifts, but the giver. How many of you would yearn to be in the company of a loved one and would exchange all gifts just to be back with them.

I want to focus this morning on the giver, for God is the real treasure, the prize, our love and our joy.

What is your picture of God?

We have many.

Richard Dawkins rejects God, because his picture of God, is of an angry, spiteful, violent God. A god who is used to justify the many evils that humanity has done.

One of the more interesting pictures of God is in the films Bruce Almighty and Evans Almighty. God is played by Morgan Freeman and comes across as being benevolent, kind and a bit quirky (because of the people he choses). But even more it is a picture of a God who is our friend as well as God.

Our reading paints a picture of God, by the things that He does.

The first we have is that God moves first. Too often we assume that we have to be the right kind of person or do the right things before we can approach God. But in this reading we see God who makes the first move towards us

he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. There is Paul who talks of Gods plan  for the fullness of time of being destined.  Some people think of destiny or fate as choosing your path. Here it is God who gives us a destiny, who calls us before the beginning of time.

If God makes the ultimate first move to you, He shows his love by giving us Jesus. Our destiny is to be rescued and it is Jesus who rescues us. In our reading Paul uses the phrase in Christ 3 times; In Him 5 times. He mentions Through Jesus Christ, The Beloved and through his blood. Paul points to Jesus and to the Cross as the means by which we are rescued, saved. God makes the first move and gives us the greatest gift, Jesus in order that we might be saved, rescued.

I look at my past with some shame and with regrets. I know where I have come from, the brokenness, the struggle and yet God called me to be here with you. I stand before you as your priest, not because I am holy, or wise. Not because I went to study theology in Oxford or because a Bishop laid hands on me. I stand before you as your priest, because of what Jesus has done.

God took me an inner city lad, from a broken family, with a just about education and a need to know love. He called that lad with his love, God reached out his hands scarred by nails and rescued me. It is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus who did this. That was the start of a new adventure in life for me and God has planned before the beginning of time for you to join in that adventure.

And the purpose of the adventure is to reveal the glory of God. Paul talks of the praise of his glorious grace of the praise of his glory. Praise is the language of heaven, it is also the rhythm and groove of creation. The whole of creation sings Gods praise. Why?

Because of who he is and what he has done.

God has given us all EVERY blessing in Jesus, but it is the giver who remains the source of all love and of all good things.

David and Michal (mrs bouquet)

So this week, when you are tempted to moan, and you will be tempted. Stop and give praise to the God who makes the first move to you, who rescues you and calls you to join in the songs of heaven.