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Sunday Service 2nd June

Presumptions

2/6/23

                    



Call to worship

Hymn 631: A little child the Saviour came

 

Talk for all  

Baptism of Harry Bruce Hamilton; son of Bruce and Linsey

 

Hymn 632: Our children Lord in faith and prayer 

 

Reading: Genesis 20: 1-18 Kay

Prayer                 

 

Hymn 36: God is our refuge and our strength

 

Sermon

Prayer

 

Hymn 502: Take my life, Lord, let it be

Benediction

 

 

Welcome to our meditation for 5th June.

Today we look at presumptions.

How much is our life dictated by what presumptions we have?

And how dangerous is this?

 

We will look at this after Kay leads us in our prayer and reading for today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sermon

Let me give you a presumption that I believe most people have.

That the good guys in the Bible do good things, and the bad guys in the Bible do bad things.

So if we are reading about a good guy in the Bible then they must be doing the right thing, because they are the good guys.

 

Now that presumption is very dangerous, because in the story of our life we are the good guys. In Alva primary school there is a saying written across the stairwell in huge letters so that everyone can read it, ‘You are the hero of your own story.’

We are the good guys, and if we are the good guys, then we do good things.

 

Because the alternative is that we are the bad guys, and bad guys do bad things.

And we can never admit to being the bad guy, so whatever we did, we did it for a good reason.

And that kind of reasoning justifies anything and everything.

 

That is why today’s passage is so important,

(especially to Bruce and Linsey as they start this journey of parenthood with Harry)

because it gives us two very important lessons that we always need to keep in mind.

 

The first is that to God there are no good guys and bad guys.

If you read this story as if you were an Israelite then the good guys are Abraham and Sarah,

the founder of the faith and the father of three religions.

Abraham and Sarah have to survive in a world full of pagans and evil people,

they have to do what they have to do just to stay alive.

All around them are people who can’t be trusted, whose motives are questionable,

who are trying to scam them and con them and take advantage of them.

And the bad guy is King Abimelech,

in fact all the people of Gerar with their strange ways and their strange customs are bad people.

Who knows what kind of weird things they do and the weird things they believe in?

These are not people we can trust, these are not people we can rely on.

 

That’s the reality that Abraham sees.

 

And in a way we might fall into the same trap.

We could look at Abraham and Sarah and say the same things about them that Abraham and Sarah said about Abimelech.

Abraham and Sarah were part of a group that believed in purity in all things,

that meant keeping the birth line pure, and you couldn’t get more pure than a brother and sister marrying.

But we would look at that very differently than they would.

We would look at their actions and say that it is Abraham and Sarah that can’t be trusted. Their actions and the way they treat people are awful.

If we are not careful we can easily pigeonhole Abraham and Sarah in the same way that they pigeonholed Abimelech.

 

This passage in the Bible to remind us that in God’s eyes there are not good people and bad people, there are only people who are a work in progress.

Abimelech is a work in progress, Abraham and Sarah are a work in progress.

 

And that is a far healthier way to look at ourselves, that we are a work in progress.

If we can only be the good guy then we can only do good things.

And when we do bad things, when we make mistakes;

we either have to justify them as good things or pretend that we haven’t done anything wrong.

We can never learn from our mistakes, never grow from our mistakes,

never admit to being anything but prefect.

Trust me, it is a lonely existence, keeping up that pretence before everybody, even keeping up that pretence to ourselves.

 

Knowing that we are a work in progress means that we can give ourselves a bit of a break.

What’s more it means we can give others a bit of a break as well.

Because they don’t need to try and be perfect round us, or pretend to be perfect round us, or justify the wrong they have done.

How many families fall apart because someone is trying to justify something they did that hurt someone else, and the wounded party ends up trying to justify the retaliation that they did?

 

Expand that out and you get the whole Israeli/Gaza situation.

Each justifying what they did because they are the good guys and they need to defend themselves from the bad guys.

Neither willing to admit that they are flawed.

Neither willing to admit that they need to change.

Neither willing to admit that the others could change.

 

Think about it...

If, say, we (Bruce and Linsey) can admit that we (they) are a work in progress then we (they) don’t need to pretend that we (they) are getting everything right,  

we (they) can admit that we (they) need help at times,

we (they) can then accept the help that others long to give us (them).

They can grow and change and adapt.

 

(And what is more they don’t need to put any pressure on Harry to be the perfect child.

Harry can grow up knowing that he is a work in progress,

that he doesn’t need to be the first one to take his first step,

or the first in his year group to say his first words,

or the first in his nursery to give up his dummy.

He can just grow and learn at his own pace.)

 

 

So the first lesson is easy.

We shouldn’t see ourselves as the good guys, and certainly shouldn’t try to be the bad guys,

we need to see ourselves as a work on progress, and work towards the progress God is leading us towards.

 

The second lesson is just as important.

Everything that Abraham and Sarah did was based from a heart of fear.

They feared the land they were in so they moved to another land, then the feared the people in that land.

 

Their fear led them to make poor choices and make unjustified assumptions about people who were different from themselves.

Abraham started by assuming the worst of King Abimelech, believing without any reason that he would kill him to get at his wife.

In the process he didn’t care what happened to his wife.

Most of you know my wife Roseanna.

Let’s imagine I am in a foreign land and this group of men appears, imagine I think they are going to attack us so in instant I just hand Roseanna over to them.

‘Take her,’ I say, ‘She’s not that important to me.’

And then the group of men say, ‘What are you on about, we are just going to the bar to watch the football.’

Hands up all of those that think I would be safe from Roseanna’s wrath?

 

What Sarah and Abraham did in fear would have repercussions on their family and the trust between them.

 

Abraham acted in arrogance that he knew how godless and untrustworthy these foreigners were, where in reality he just showed his own stupidity and lack of morals.

 

Now it is our turn to make some choices. There are so many things in the world to be afraid of, it is easy to become afraid and to act out of fear.

But the truth is that the choices we make in fear are never great choices.

 

We always have a choice,

there are times we might think we don’t have a choice,

but in this we always do,

we always have a choice whether we act out of fear or out of love.

 

When we act out of fear we seek to protect ourselves, when we act out of love we leave ourselves open to opportunities.

But that can be hard.

 

 

Every parent knows that at some point our children grow and seek to become more independent.

When as parents we act out of fear then we stop then doing things, don’t let them leave the house, restrict who they go with and where they can be.

 

Recently in the family whats app we were talking about Jessica going to the local shops for the first time without parents there.

If her parents acted out of fear then the first time Jessica did that would be when she was 27....and even then with a chaperone.

But allowing her to do that now means that she has to grow, start doing risk assessments about when it is safe to do things and not, all useful skills to have when she is older and the things she is doing more risky.

 

Not that they were completely reckless as parents, they had a tracking device on her and watched her on they phone every step of the way.

And as the rest of the family slagged them off about it we all started to admit what we did the first time we let our children out alone to walk to school for the first time. Like following behind and ducking behind cars when they turned round.

 

We may struggle to get rid of our fears, that is part of being a work in progress, but we can still make our choices in love rather than  completely acting in fear.

 

There are so many people here today that have so many choices to make in the future.

Make sure those choices are made in love rather than fear.

And when you make mistakes, which you will, remember you’re a work in progress, learn from the mistake, grow from the mistake, know that God forgives you, and then move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us pray

Heavenly Father

We know that relationships are challenging, and the longer we are in them the more challenging they can seem to be.

And if relationships can be difficult to understand, then often the truth can be even more complex.

Often we find Truth difficult to discern.

Too often we don’t have the full context of what has happened.

Too often we assume incorrectly motives and reasons for things happening.

Too often we decide in error and too soon what we think the truth is, an we are reluctant to change our mind and admit that we were wrong.

 

#and this becomes even more important when we are making decisions about our future and the future of relationships that we care about.

 

We long for Your truth.

Your truth that isn’t deflected by our misconceptions

or coloured by our wishes,

or tainted by our misplaced assumptions, or false desires.

 

Help us to hear your longing for our relationships

with our families,

with our co-workers and friends,

with our fellow Christians.

 

Open our hearts to forgiveness,

forgiveness of ourselves, so that we can move on from our mistakes,

and forgiveness for others, so that our relationships can grow and flourish.

 

So may our life move forward, setting for us a straight course; navigating all our interactions with others

without arrogance, but and with integrity.

This we ask in Jesus name

Amen.

 

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