Published on 19 Sep 2012
Holy Cross with Baptisms – September 16, 2012
Archdeacon Ellen Clark-King with Dr. Jack Forbes
Christ Church Cathedral
Click Here to listen to an audio mp3 of the sermon
Today we are inviting you into a new project of international aid. One you could call our small way of raising up a bronze snake in the wilderness. It is to be part of the worldwide effort to bring mosquito nets to Africa in order to defeat malaria – one of the biggest killers on the African continent.
Having seen the aggression of mosquitoes and the effectiveness of a net Dr Jack Forbes, co-chair of Parish Council and an expert on childhood diseases will say a little more about why this is such a valuable project.
There’s a phrase that people often use when they want to get out of giving to any but the most local good causes – ‘charity begins at home’. Now I agree that this is completely true – charity does and should always begin at home. But that, of course, begs the questions – where is home? And this is where my definition would differ from those who use the phrase to limit their giving. For Christians home is not just the few square meters where I live with my family, not even my neighbourhood or city or country. As it said in our gospel reading – God loved the world – the whole thing, all of it, all of us creatures – and calls us, in our so much more limited way, to do the same.
So home for us at Christ Church Cathedral doesn’t just include Vancouver and the lower mainland. It reaches as far as Mozambique and Tanzania and Burundi. Places where only a few of us will ever have been but whose needs are just as much our concern as those of our more immediate neighbours. We’ve chosen Spread the Nets as a way of meeting those needs. Firstly, and most importantly, because it has been shown to work. Secondly because with a donation of just $10 buying a net it means that nearly all of us, kids as well as adults, could buy at least one net to keep one family safe. Thirdly because it’s run through PWRDF so it’s a way of supporting the aid effort of the whole Canadian Anglican Church.
This is part of our way in this community of living into being people of the cross – people who follow a God of self-giving love. In Christ on the cross we see a God who gave godself to a violent death in order to free us from violence and injustice and to bring us to a place of healing, forgiveness and peace. In following this God we too are called to give to the world – to stand with the vulnerable and the oppressed – those who carry the cross within our world today. We are called to reach out with hands of love to our neighbours in the greatest need wherever they may be.
The fire of God’s passionate love burns most fiercely on the cross – we need to let it spark an answering passion in our own hearts so that it can continue to offer healing warmth to the world.
I want to share a story. It’s one I told seven years ago so some of you with very good sermon listening skills and long-term memories may remember it. But it will be new for most of the kids here today. It comes from a book by Tony de Mello called ‘The Song of the Bird’.
“A man walking through the forest saw a badly injured fox and wondered how it survived. Then he saw a tiger come with a deer in its mouth. The tiger ate her fill and left the rest for the fox.
The next day too God sent the tiger to feed the fox. The man marveled at God’s greatness and thought, ‘I too shall lie in a corner trusting God to give me all I need.’
He did this for a month, and was almost at death’s door when he heard a mighty – and somewhat irritated – Voice from heaven that said, “Oh you foolish man! Imitate the tiger not the fox.’
Tony Mello continues: On the street I saw a naked child, hungry and shivering in the cold. I became angry and said to God, ‘Why do you allow this? Why don’t you do something?’
God did not reply. That night God said, quite suddenly, ‘I certainly did do something. I made you.’”
God made us. And if you want Spread the Nets to be part of your way of following our self-giving, healing God then just put a donation in an envelope and write Spread the Nets on it. Or contact Kathy in the office to make an on-going donation. It’s time to reach out to our neighbours in Africa and spread God’s love along with those nets.
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