Sermon: Healthy Family – Suffering and Sacrifice

Talk by Ian Jennings at our 10.30am service on Sunday, 16th February 2020.

This sermon is based on Matthew 16.24-26  and Romans 8. 18-25.

Here are the notes from the front page of our news sheet:

Healthy Family: This Will Hurt!
By Ian Jennings

When I was sixteen I had a serious car accident. It was the days before compulsory seat belts and I was in the front the passenger seat. I was projected through the wind screen and so suffered a feather fracture of the skull and many lacerations of the scalp. I was rushed to hospital and the surgeon said, ‘I’m going to stitch your scalp back on but I don’t plan to use any anaesthetic – if you can stand the pain it will aid the healing process. But it will hurt!’ He was right – it did! But he was also right in that my scalp did heal quickly.

The experience of discipleship will hurt at times. Jesus said to his disciples, ‘in this world you will have trouble.’ It is unavoidable if we walk the path of true discipleship there will be times when it will hurt. Jesus went on to say, ‘But cheer up because I have overcome the world.’ There will be healing – ultimate and eternal. But as we live out our calling as disciples of Jesus we will experience and suffering and sacrifice. That is part of the deal.

For some the sacrifice is huge and the suffering intense. Sheila Cassidy was arrested and tortured when serving as a missionary in Chile. She went on to be the Director of a Hospice. She wrote a book called Sharing the Darkness. She writes, ‘Right at the heart of the mystery of suffering is the grace that sustains us all, carers and cared for alike. It comes as freely and as surely as the sunrise, piercing the blackness of grief and despair, restoring once again the hope of things unseen.’

Jesus said, ‘if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ Sacrifice is part of the adventure of discipleship. It may take many forms but it will involve moving out of our comfort zones and embracing new challenges. ‘Lord what would you have me to do today,’ is a good place to begin in our morning prayers. We may well be surprised by the opportunities that open up to us as a result. It may hurt as we step out of our comfort zones but it will also bring healing – to us and to others.

And ultimately, as St Paul says, ‘The suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.’

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