Hitting upwards #HT200

Transform

Holy Trinity Church Huddersfield, Sunday 26 May 2019

HTChurch Old

I love my church.

Today was the fourth service  in the series of five on the subject Marks of Mission which we are having before the churches mission week that we are having to mark 200 years as a church. The previous ones were Tell, Teach and Tend, this week was Transform. I strongly expect the last one next week to also start with T.

Before I talk about yesterday’s service, I’d like to mention a couple of things from earlier in the week:

Tuesday evening we had a history walk in the area around the church. The image I have used is the oldest known photograph of the church building.

On Friday I read in a discussion on the website Ship of Fools that you should never insult anyone below the rank of colonel. It was connected to the idea of speaking truth to power and that you must only ever hit upwards in disputes. You should never hit down, that is abuse. I found that significant because Vicar Mike’s sermon also mentioned speaking truth to power. More of that later in this blog.

Last week we said goodbye to four of the students who have been worshipping with us for the last few years. Today we welcomed one of them back. We have offered one a position working with our student ministry, with our youth and children’s work and some other stuff.

I had been praying for them during the week. I felt that God had a message to pass on which had to be done before the service. We arrived five minutes before the start and there he was, standing in the centre near the doors. What I had to say confirmed what others had been saying to him during the week.

Another goodbye. Curate Steve and his family are moving on. The training period has ended and they will be moving to Loughborough area at the end of the summer. I’m sure Steve will be as great a blessing there as he has been to us here in Huddersfield.

The negative thing from the service, we arrived too late to get our usual seats near the front, so we were sat in the middle so I had to stand when the rest of the congregation stood to get sight of the screens. I would have prepared to have been seated for the duration, I had been awake in the night from pain from my disability so being treated as the ecclesiastical yo-yo was not what I wanted. Still I love my church.

The sermon on Transform, was about Confronting injustice in all its forms.

It was based on a passage in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus curses a fig tree, drives the traders from the Temple then the next day find the fig tree is withered away to its roots. It is in Mark 11:12-25. Is Jesus having a bad day?

No, we were told. When Mark sandwiches two things together like this the two incidents make one point. What Jesus was doing was deliberate and led to him being crucified.

What Jesus was doing was not about making the Temple clean or being anti trading, though there is some of both in there. Jesus announces God’s judgement on the Temple, a building meant to be a house of prayer for all nations. The Temple was supposed to be a beacon to draw people in.

Instead of being a place to draw all in the Temple had become a den of robbers. The den is not where the robbery takes place it is where the theives hide. Instead of drawing people in the Temple had become a religious ghetto, a place for Jews alone and under a tight rein. The religious status quo was preserved at the Temple.

The prophet Amos said:

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Amos 5:21-24

The temple had become the source of injustice.

The fig tree is used by the prophets to refer to the state of Israel. The leaders of the Jewish religion should have born fruit but had rejected Jesus.

It is by their fruit you will know followers of Jesus.

Jesus does not want us to be separated from the world. We have not to follow the world’s ways but show God’s love and justice to the world. It will show if we do two things.

  1. Treat people with equity.
  2. Live a life in right relationships its other people. Live in relationship fairly. If we act with justice it shows Jesus has done something in us.

Father of fatherless, widow, refugee. People who have no power. A voice to the voiceless, church is called to do that.

One small voice can make a difference.  Natalia Dmytruk was such a person. A sign language interpreter in the Ukrainian state-run TV channel UT1, On November 24 2004 she refused to interpret the news that opposition leader Victor Yushchenko had been badly defeated in that country’s election, instead signing “It’s all lies,” and encouraging the deaf community to text the news out, which they did, journalists got involved. As a result the election was rerun and Yushchenko was elected.

We can speak truth to power.

Justice is in the heart of God. Speak out against injustice and change people’s lives.

These blogs on Holy Trinity are getting longer. It would be easier if I belonged to a church where things were the same every week. But that would be boring. We have problems, like most churches, with how to accept people with disabilities and other things. But we are moving forward on this.

I love my church.


Details of Holy Trinity’s mission week, Shine, can be found on the church’s website and under the hashtag #HT200 on social media.

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