As part of my current drive to be less dependent on written notes, this was a largely unscripted sermon which used the following Powerpoint presentation as a basis:-
There were just a few sections that I did script out more fully, though even these I adapted at the time of delivery:-
There are other ways of being
Lost – there is the lostness that comes from simply not knowing the God who made us and to we must give an account
Enslaved – there is the moral slavery that comes when we find ourselves trapped in repeated patterns of unhealthy thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviours and we can find no means of escape
Damaged – there is the damage that comes from a guilty conscience that eats away at us and stunts our spiritual and emotional growth
Storm-tossed – There is the anxiety of feeling that everything has got on top of us and we can see no rhyme nor reason in it
The human condition. We believe in the essential dignity of every human being, because created in the image of God. But we also recognise that because of rebellion against God we lost, enslaved, sin-sick, and storm-tossed. Everyman.
Where is this pointing to?
Prayer? – This psalm encourages us, when in trouble, to cry out to God and he will hear and answer our prayers. This is the case even if our troubles are of our own making, provided we approach God penitently.
Social outreach? – God cares for the homeless, the enslaved, the damaged, and those in peril on land and sea, and so should we.
Evangelistic outreach? – let’s tell the world that in Christ the lost are found, the enslaved set free, the damaged find healing, and the storm-tossed are rescued.
But the psalm itself points us in a different direction. Yet not different, because it underpins these others. What is it that underlies and motivates our social and evangelistic efforts? Thanksgiving.
We are the lost who have been found and brought home. We are the slaves who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. We are the damaged who have found healing. We are the storm-tossed who have peace with God and the peace of God.
It is out of glad and thankful hearts that we will find strength to serve God’s purposes in our generation.
If at this time you are distressed about the mess that the Church of England has got itself into [this was an allusion to a recent vote about women bishops]
If you long to see more of God’s love and power at work here amongst us
If you feel you’ve lost your way, trapped by your own habits and circumstances, battered, bruised, storm-tossed.
Then take heart from what God has done before. And know that God can do it again.