Reflection – 28 August 2022

Here’s my service from yesterday

Call to worship – based on James chapter 2


Come to hear the Word.

Come to do the Word.

Come to experience Comfort.

Come to experience Challenge.

Come to find Cost.

Come to find Joy.

Come to find Humanity.

Come to find Community.

Come to find Church.

Come to find God.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our first hymn this morning is one you can sing along to – the words will be on the screen

I Am a New Creation,
No more in Condemnation,
Here in the Grace of God, I stand.

My Heart is Overflowing,
My Love just keeps on Growing,
Here in the Grace of God, I stand.

And I will Praise You, Lord,
Yes, I will Praise You, Lord,
And I will Sing of all that You have done.

A Joy that knows no limit,
A Lightness in My Spirit
Here in the Grace of God, I stand.

Repeat 3x

Quiz – answers at the end

What is the Central Criminal Court in London better known as? 
Who wrote the books featuring Horace Rumpole Q.C.? 
Who played Rumpole on Television? 
Who played the lawyer Robert T. Ironside on TV? 
What sign of the Zodiac is represented by scales? 
What’s the name of the UK’s highest court? 
Who starred in the 1995 film Judge Dredd? 
Which American TV series starred William Shatner as Denny Crane and James Spader as Alan Shore? 
Who played Perry Mason in the original television series? 
What is the name of the current Home Secretary? 

This morning’s quiz was all about the law. Questions about lawyers and judges and courts.

But today it’s not really the law I want us to think about but something related – justice – which isn’t quite the same thing

Justice is important to God. In one of my favourite passages of the Old Testament in the book of Amos we hear God saying this:

Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

What is justice though? What comes to mind when we hear the word justice? Have a think before reading on.

Let’s think a little bit more about justice based on some clips from a film.

!2 Angry Men is one of my all time favourite films. I think we had it at film club a few years ago.

If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend to you.

If you want to see the film clips (it will help) you can find the full movie at

https://archive.org/details/12AngryMen1957

By way of introduction, it’s all about a murder trial – and nearly all the action takes place in a jury room. 12 men who have to decide on the guilt or innocence of a young man. Let’s watch the first clip.

Clip 1 10:22-13:20

Time for a bit of discussion work. Just one question – are we sometimes too quick to judge people? Can you think of any examples of times when you have done this? Have a think before reading on.

We’ll have our first Bible reading before the next clip

James 2:1-13

1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?

8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.

12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.

Clip 2 21:50-22:45  

Here are the questions for this one – what prejudices do we have?

Do we make sweeping statements about groups of people that we’d be ashamed of if we knew they could hear it?

Some of my thoughts:

Muslims likely to be terrorists?

Poor people spend too much money on smoking and ‘flat screen TVs’

Here’s the third and final clip

Clip 3 1:17:00-1:19:35

This clip reminds me of a Bible story. Can you guess which one?

John 8:1-11

1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

In the film we have a situation at the start where nearly everyone is prepared to see an accused person die. That’s what the law says. 11 out of 12 votes for guilty. Just one man is prepared to stand up to the group, to slow them down, to make them think again. By this last clip the mood has changed, nearly everyone has changed their mind. One person is continuing to spout hatred and prejudice – but everyone else turns and walks away.

I won’t tell you how the film ends.

Here’s the question though:

What should we do, as Christians, if we hear people trying to stir people up with hateful comments?

Some options:

Join in? Walk away? Something else?

I want us to share in a prayer now.

It’s a prayer of St Patrick that came up at Bible Book Club in the week.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

Just a few closing comments from me.

Justice is a great thing to strive for – but it doesn’t come easily.

It won’t just happen by praying for it. The only way for there to be justice in the world is for people to do something to help bring it about.

And, being realistic, it’s never going to be perfect.

But it’s up to us as Christians to work for justice, for fairness, so that everyone can have the best life they can.

So let’s go away from here committed to do all we can:

  • Let’s not jump to having negative thoughts about people
  • Let’s deal with our prejudices, recognise that we all have them, and try hard to overcome them
  • Let’s not put up with other people’s hate filled words. If we’re not brave enough to take issue with it at least let’s turn our backs on it and not indulge it or make light of it.

Because it’s through what Christians do that people might see Christ.

As St Patricks prayer says

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

Amen

Our final hymn is called God of Justice

God of Justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Came to serve and not be served

And Jesus, You have called us
Freely we’ve received now freely we will give

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

Fill us up, send us out

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in every way
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us what You require
Freely we’ve received now freely we will give

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord

Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord

Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord

Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out
Fill us up, send us out Lord

To act justly, loving mercy
We must go, we must go
To the broken and the hurting
We must go, we must go

We must go, live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

Fill us up, send us out

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all now

and for evermore.

Amen.

Quiz Answers

What is the Central Criminal Court in London better known as?The Old Bailey
Who wrote the books featuring Horace Rumpole Q.C.?John Mortimer
Who played Rumpole on Television?Leo McKern
Who played the lawyer Robert T. Ironside on TV?Raymond Burr
What sign of the Zodiac is represented by scales?Libra
What’s the name of the UK’s highest court?The Supreme Court
Who starred in the 1995 film Judge Dredd?Sylvester Stallone
Which American TV series starred William Shatner as Denny Crane and James Spader as Alan Shore?Boston Legal
Who played Perry Mason in the original television series?Raymond Burr
What is the name of the current Home Secretary?Priti Patel

One thought on “Reflection – 28 August 2022

  1. True! This sermon truly conveys the authentic message of God. My baptism took place at https://lhhouston.church/ministries/baptism/, and I still well recall it. Since I felt God’s presence there, it was one of my favorite memories. He’s helped me take back control of my life. I also want to express my gratitude to the members of our church for helping me on my spiritual journey.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.