Sermon – 27 August – David

There’s a story of a vicar and his curate getting the altar ready on a Saturday night. A tramp crashes into the back of church and the vicar sends the curate to check him out.The curate returns ‘He claims he’s Jesus, sir.’ The vicar turns and looks the tramp up and down.’Mm, I don’t think he is, but just in case we’d better look busy!’
They were certainly looking busy as Jesus crashed into the Temple in today’s Gospel. Inviting us to ponder the simultaneously heady and terrifying prospect of Jesus crashing into our place of worship, our world. What tables would he overturn? I put that question to my waking wife who said he would simplify the music setting at the 10 am Communion. If I was Jesus, that probably wouldn’t be at the top of my hit list, but even so, ‘Good game, good game!’ as the much lamented Bruce Forsyth used to say.
I guess Jesus would want us not to be so busy, too many Marthas fussing and fretting,
too few Marys with the nerve to stop and wonder. I once attended a meeting of Welsh bishops at Llandudno, North Wales’ version of Scarborough, where we discussed something late into the night that was never ever going to happen. The latest plot of Dr Who would have been more likely to take place than what we were talking about. The next morning we were at it again, and frustrated old me proposed we suspend the meeting, go out into Llandudno knocking on doors with the simple message, ‘Hello, I’m a bishop. How can I help you?’
I like to think he would be rather taken with the message in Old English on the pillar by the door ‘Pray remember the poor.’ I have visited thousands of churches, but never come across one with such a bold message. And having known you man and boy for five decades I know how marvellously you do remember the poor and that would make Jesus’ eyes shine. After all when he crashed into another place of worship the Synagogue at Capernaum, he said ‘The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives recovery of sight for the blind and let the oppressed go free.’
Never mind the bracing game of wondering who and what Jesus would take out if he crashed into our worship, because he is here already, whatever the communion setting, in the bread and wine, the broken body and the spilled blood, inviting us to go out and find him in the world, wherever bodies are broken and blood is spilled, weeping ‘If only you would know, even now the way that leads to peace.’