SERMON NOTES FREEDOM SUNDAY JULY 29TH Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1-15, 2 Kings 4:42-44, Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21

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1 SERMON NOTES FREEDOM SUNDAY JULY 29TH 2018 Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1-15, 2 Kings 4:42-44, Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21 Focussed on Ephesians 3:14-21 Desmond Tutu spoke at a national youth conference in the late 80 s. Confusing many people, he spoke for the first 3 nights on the holiness of God. He told of the purity of God, the love of God, the heart and desires of God. And then on the 4th night he bought it home! On the 4th night he launched off the image of Holiness of God and said, As we see this nature of God can you see how injustice flies in the face of the holy nature of God and is so abhorrent to this Holy God? The call of God to us is to live out this justice of God and be light in the world. It was an unforgettable series. It was an insight into the heart of God. On the last night Desmond called people to make a faith response to this holy, just, loving God, who knows us and calls us to be joined to God that we might know God and be a part of God s plan; to bring the Reign of God on earth as in heaven. Young people responded to this call, older people responded, ministers and leaders responded. It was an amazing night of conversion, hope, and revelation. 1

2 When we realise who God is, what God is like and the invitation and relationship God calls us to have; we reorient ourselves to our true north, our reference point and the deep yearning of the meaning of life which is to give ourselves to this God and God s will and ways. Theologian N.T. Wright says that the book of Ephesians is one of the most radical books in the Bible. He concludes that: Ephesians divides very easily into chapters 1 3 and 4 6. For convenience, the two sections could be titled Ephesians and the Mission of God and Ephesians and the Church of God. It is structured with a similar flow to Desmond Tutu s talks. It gives us 6 chapters that give insight into the plan of God to set us free from from the effects of the corruption, injustices and mindsets that enslave us. God blesses those joined with Christ and choses us to be holy, wise, and understanding of God s plan through grace and faith because of God s amazing love. This new life calls us into an inclusive family and community, where we are no longer Jew and gentile, male and female, free or slave. We are being shaped into a church where the Kingdom of God, Reign of God, God s understanding of life, is to become a reality. The mystery of God to the rulers and authorities is to be made known through the church, as the church incarnates it or, fleshes it out. We can know God and God s ways. We also can make these known, through the Holy Spirit bringing us to understand what Jesus has done so that the world may know God s ways. 2

3 Paul prays: That you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3) It is so easy to underestimate the capacity God gives us when we can have this fullness of God to understand what is happening around us. St Augustine wrote a famous book called The City of God. In it he paints a picture of two cities a City of Man and a City of God. He describes the City of Man as that realm of thinking that places its trust in power, political systems and false religion. A lust for power that devalues people and uses whatever it can, to get its riches and dominate others. The City of God he describes is populated by people who crave and put their hope in the virtues and values of Jesus Christ. The city which is the heavenly New Jerusalem that will occur when Jesus returns. In other words; get ready, and start living God s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. A key story and imagination of the Bible is the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The story and imagination is enacted in the rituals and festivals that the nation was called to celebrate; not just because of what happened in history but also for what was going to happen when the Messiah came again. Always in the meantime the people of God were called to live out this freedom and bless others with this freedom in preparation for what was going to happen. 3

4 We have more slaves in the world now than at any point of recorded history: Conservatively it is estimated to be over 40.3 million people It is not just in sexual slavery, but it permeates the manufacturing, farming and fishing industries around the world. In Australia s global neighbourhood of the Indo-Asian region we have an estimated 70% of all the slaves in the world these are our key trading partners Migrant workers are the new emerging reality in the region. Often corrupt labour agents charge exorbitant fees for the mostly poverty-stricken people trying to find a way out of the poverty cycle in which they are caught Overseas students trying to get a better education can find themselves incapable of covering their costs and get tricked and trapped into low or nopaying jobs or sexual servitude Refugees fleeing from war, danger or threats, fall into slavery and slaverylike abuse Girls as young as 10 or older males and females are tricked and coerced into forced marriage Children given by or taken from their families, are put into orphanages which play on the goodwill and generosity of donors or tourists to make money for the orphanage owners Children (under 18 and as young as 4) are captured and tricked into becoming child soldiers and never have a healthy childhood, get maimed and injured or killed and or sexually abused Peopled are tricked into false medical operations only to find a kidney has been harvested Prisoners in some countries are used for organ harvesting and often even killed for their organs to be sold to people needing organ transplants This is the City of Man, not the City of God! 4

5 When we have this fullness of God to understand what is happening around us we get to see through the counter-cultural eyes; we get to hear with the countercultural ears; we get to think with counter-cultural creative imaginations what is happening in this injustice of slavery that is permeating the City of Man around us. However, with the same Holy Spirit, the same teachings of Jesus, the same heart of God, we are called to see that there is another way and we innovate the actions that can bring Gospel (good news) into these realities for these people. It is causing us to work towards, playing our part in bringing this Kingdom of God into reality. People of faith have always been a part of confronting slavery and bringing it to an end. William Wilberforce and John Wesley in England, the Disciples of Christ and the Quakers in the USA. It has been done before by the inspiration of God through God s people and it is time to do it again. John Wesley realised the implications of this Kingdom of God as did William Wilberforce. They did not just act on slavery alone but all the conditions and mindsets that cause slavery. In John Wesley s Chapel in Bristol in the UK hangs his principles that create a Political Manifesto: Reduce the gap between the rich and the poor Seek to ensure full employment Introduce measures to help the poorest, including a living wage Offer the best possible education Empower individuals to feel they can make a difference Promote tolerance Promote equal treatment for women 5

6 Create a society based on values and not on profits and consumerism END ALL FORMS OF SLAVERY Avoid engaging in wars Avoid narrow self-interest and promote a world view [for the common good] Care for animals with whom we share our planet Human slavery is the fastest growing illegal trade in the world. It is the second biggest illegal trade second only to the drug trade and has passed the illegal arms trade. It is estimated to earn slave traders around US$150 billion per year. Awareness is starting to be raised. Change is starting to happen. The UK, France, California and Holland have passed a Modern Slavery Act, and Australia had a proposed Act tabled in Parliament at the end of June with the hope that it will be passed by the end of the year. Hong Kong also has one tabled and there are around 4 other countries looking at one. There is slavery in Australia but it is small even 1 person is too many - but our greatest contact is in the goods we import from overseas. We can have a massive effect by asking companies and stores if they know where their goods are produced traceability and if they are making known where and which factories, farms and fishing places these are transparency. A great question is to ask: WWJB What would Jesus Buy? In the Genesis creation story, we see the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters and creating. It is this same creative Spirit who fills us and is; the power at work within us and is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. 6

7 A STOP THE TRAFFIK Office in the UK received a call from a lady with a cultured upperclass accent. I am ringing to complain she said as your chocolate campaign has taken over the life of my eight year-old grand-daughter. She seems to be spending her life trying to find ways to make sure only certified chocolate is available and telling people about modern slavery. She has got her school to only sell certified chocolate products in the canteen and every class is looking at modern slavery. Not only that, all the families at the school have been informed about slavery and what is happening. It has spilled out to the neighbourhood around and the local shops are now pressured into only selling certified chocolates. All of our extended family would not dare buy anything but certified chocolate! It has taken over our lives. I was ringing to tell you, you might like to listen to the House of Lords next week as my maiden speech there is going to be on slavery in cocoa growing and the chocolate industry. This is what an 8-year-old can do. Imaging what you could do! As we live this wonderful call in this reading from Ephesians 3. Paul goes on in chapters 3-6 to help us apply this to our lifestyles, relationships, and use the resources to build our capacity through the resources God gives - (chapter 6). As we do this and be this Church may we celebrate together and: to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Download more resources at stopthetraffik.com.au/freedom-days 7

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