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Preacher: Rt Revd Richard Frith, former Bishop of Hereford.
Title of sermon: Accession Day 2022
Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8, 1 Cor 15: 1-11, Luke 5: 1-11
Date/time/service: Sunday 6th January 2022 – 11am Choral Eucharist
There’s one word that kept coming back to me after I looked at today’s readings.
An OT reading with a vision of God.
An epistle reading with the basis of our Christian faith.
A Gospel reading with Jesus calling his disciples to follow him.
Readings set ages in advance, that come round every three years – but used today, two years on from the start of an extraordinary time for all of us.
That one word for today is Confidence. Confidence.
There are many signs of a lack of confidence, not least, as far as I can tell, in the Church. The disappointing reality is that we do tend to show just the same human weakness, insecurity, lack of confidence and consequent tendency to point our fingers at others as everyone else.
By confidence, I don’t mean wishful thinking or false bravado, where the more lacking in confidence we are, the less we listen and the more loudly we shout. Rather, taking a dictionary definition of it as “the belief that we can have faith in or rely on someone or something” – in Christian terms, confidence in our faith and how it can sustain and motivate us: that it is good news.
So, in our OT reading we have a confident vision of God. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple…”
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
That’s where we start. It is horribly easy to ignore God – for the Church to be just another organisation. Isaiah’s vision gives a sense of wonder, a vision of God present not only in heaven but also very much on earth; a vision of God leading to worship that can provide perspective and engender hope; and the ministry that flows from it.
It is that confident vision of God that enables Isaiah to hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” and to respond, “Here am I, send me!”
Then in our Epistle reading we have from St. Paul a confident statement of faith, thought to be the oldest of all testimonies to Jesus’ resurrection: St. Paul handing on the faith as he has received it.
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