Matthew 28:16-20 (this morning’s lectionary reading) got me thinking about worship – giving God worth. I’ve also been thinking about weddings again – I booked one in last night, and there’s this big wedding in London at the end of the week 🙂 So I wondered, how will God’s worth be shared through the Royal Wedding – and can we part of that?
Here’s my (short) sermon for this morning:
“When the disciples saw Jesus, they worshipped him; but some doubted.” (Matt 28:17)
I always remember to think about worship, the worship of God through the person of the resurrected of Jesus, as ‘giving God worth’. That way I’m reminded that worship is not just something that we do in church, in prayer or in song. As Christians we should be giving God worth with the whole of our lives, and recognising and proclaiming God’s worth where-ever we see it.
And we do that, despite or at least with, whatever doubts we may have, just as these remaining eleven disciples did. In this passage the worship of Jesus is mentioned before the doubts of the disciples. On that mountaintop, meeting with Jesus in obedience to his request, the disciples were in the presence of their one true God. God is fully revealed to them in, and as, Jesus himself. Jesus is the ruler of the world, as the result of the resurrection, completing the meaning of his birth as the Messiah. (with thanks to Tom Wright’s ‘Matthew for Everyone’ for the theology!)
We may struggle to get our heads round the idea of God as the three persons of the Trinity; the disciples as Jews were struggling at this stage with the revelation of a twofold divinity of God.
We may doubt sometimes that we are really seeing, or experiencing Jesus in our lives; the disciples, had watched, or run-away from, his crucifixion and knew for a certainty that he’d died and been buried in a tomb.
We may certainly doubt our ability or worthiness to stand in the presence of Jesus, but…Jesus is our risen Lord – and he has invited us to be in his presence, to recognise him wherever he might be revealed, and then to baptise, to teach and to be obedient whilst remembering that he is always with us.
There is something important about putting ourselves mentally and physically, in a place where we can recognise Jesus and see the worth and worship that others offer him, whatever the situation; high place, or low. It requires us to be obedient, not to the whims and fancies of the world, but to look carefully at that world so that we can see Jesus revealed as our Lord and God, quite often through the lives of others.
It is sometimes difficult for us to recognise God’s worth close up to ourselves, in what we do, or in what our church does. It’s easier when it’s set at a little distance from us, but in such a way that we can’t avoid it – like the risen Lord on a mountaintop!
You’ve probably noticed there’s a wedding at the end of the week – a rather big one. There is plenty of hype: media outlets clamouring for the first or best interview for their programme. Even the Christian media and comment systems on the internet, have been questioning this, that and the other detail of the wedding. This has included the motivation for Kate’s recent Confirmation. Rather than doubting her sincerity or motivation (without knowing what it really was), shouldn’t we celebrate that she wished to re-affirm for herself the baptismal vows others had taken, and that it formed part of their preparation to get married?! If a couple are taking God’s place in their personal lives and marriage that seriously, surely that’s a good thing?
Wouldn’t it be good to acknowledge the precedence being given to God by William and Katherine at their wedding? It’s not like God is the uninvited guest – they are getting married in his presence, so it’s his mountaintop they’re climbing to – he’s the host! In this single event, God, through Jesus, will surely be proclaimed and worshipped as the creator of the world, full of grace and truth. As well as the setting at Westminster Abbey, Jesus will be revealed in the liturgy and music, the symbolism and the vows that William and Kate will make. Among the pomp and circumstance, the two billion people who watch the wedding will also be in a position to recognise Jesus.
As Christians it is our responsibility, on the mountain top of razzmatazz that will be the Royal Wedding, to emphasise God’s role, and Jesus’ worth in it. I’m sure that since he’s preaching at the wedding Bishop Richard Chartres (Bishop of London) will make a significant nod in God’s direction. But as Jesus’ disciples shouldn’t we should also be ready to make the most of the opportunity to do the same. What we say in conversation with our friends and neighbours, could (though I hesitate to suggest it) make more difference to the faith of a nation (and the world) than what a bishop says – because our words won’t get manipulated by the media!
We might have doubts about the fuss being made about a wedding, and we don’t really know about the degree of Will and Kate’s faith and trust in God – it is not our business to. We might even have doubts about the security of our own faith or ability to witness to it. But, whatever we think of the rest of the hype, which many of us will wish to ignore, if we watch the ceremony closely, shouldn’t we look out for the positive things it says about the person of Jesus – and then talk about these, rather than simply moaning about whatever disastrous coverage the media give us, or passing comment on a dress?
In this Easter Week, let us not dumb-down the resurrection of Jesus, by editing his presence out of the Royal Wedding, or ignore him by ignoring the opportunities to share the gospel that the wedding presents us with. We have been commissioned by Jesus to make real in the world the authority he already has, to make disciples of all nations, so let’s recognise it when we have the chance and give it worth wherever we see it.