Not peace, but a sword
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 29 July 2018
My wife and I arrived at church damp. The long hot dry spell of weather had come to an end and there was a bit of a downpour. To top that off the 15-minute walk to church was into the wind. After lth last almost three months of hot dry weather I found it quite nice to get soaked: Not everyone at church shared that opinion. On the way home the rain was less severe and behind us. so not too bad.
Between the bouts of dampness, there was a church service. Not everything went smoothly, Vicar Mike was away, more than once people started speaking with their microphones switched off, and at the end of the service the screens with the hymn words on them went blank and retracted. (I found out from Chris, who was working the laptop with the lyrics after the service, that one of our children had walked up to the wall socket and switched the power to the projectors off.
We took all of this in our stride and none of it deterred us from worshipping God. Our God is greater than our technology.
During the after-service coffee, I spoke to one of our congregation who was in our youth group when I was a youth leader, she has been chronically ill for some time and is awaiting the outcome of a CT scan from the hospital. Since I have been a youth leader she has grown up, marries and has grown up children of her own, but the responsibility to pray for your youth is not something that can ever be given up.
None of the above says what the service was like. It was led in a contemporary style, we only have one morning service instead of two during the school summer holidays, so whether the music is contemporary or traditional is something we find out on the day.
The sermon, the second of the Hard Sayings of Jesus that are filling the holiday weeks was on the tenth chapter of Matthew:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
Matthew 10:34-36 ESV
The context of this is this part of Matthew’s Gospel is evangelism. The metaphor of bringing a sword rather than peace, followed by non-metaphorical examples of people being rejected by families because of their faith in God.
This persecution happened. It started almost immediately on there being a Church right up to the Emporer Constantine taking up the Christian cause in 312AD. But persecution did not end there, Today there are more Christians being persecuted than ever before. Countries mentioned in the sermon, and in the top ten worst, are North Kores, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Even is the West the are some who will write Christianity off as being irrelevant or ridicule believers, making it harder to stand up and be counted as a Christian.
Going through the service backwards, as I am doing here, we heard in the prayers of places where there is persecution.
Let us pray for the persecuted church.