10. September 2017

The Harvest of the Soul – The Vision of God’s People

Series:
Service Type:

Minister: Revd Dr. Ian Tutton | Series: Harvest

‘I make all things new’ (Rev 21, 1a)
‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Prov 29, 18)
A lot of midnight oil has been burned in an attempt to understand the exact nature of the soul. You may be relieved to know that in preparation for today I have burned none. To me, in this context the ‘soul’ is that which while it is deep within us is the means by which we can go beyond ourselves. It is the impetus behind any vision we might have, the potential for which is prescribed by the faith we have in God in the light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The ’Soul’ for me is our ‘dream machine’ – not for nothing did Joel equate Visions and dreams – ‘Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions’. (Joel 2, 28). This was how Peter understood the vital work of the Holy Spirit when preaching @ Pentecost. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish is one of the most challenging verses in the whole of Scripture. And this challenge is laid firmly at the door of the Church, at our door.
This last week saw the publication of the latest UK Social Attitudes Survey, the headline from which was the statistic that for the first time less than 50% of the population claimed to be religious (any religion) with 35% identifying themselves as Christian. 71% of young people between 18 – 24 said they had no religion. And we should be very concerned: Daniel Finkelstein, writing in The Times last week wondered aloud what might take the place of religion as part of a nation’s psyche and all he could come up with was a resurgence of nationalism – the Cross of Jesus usurped by the Cross of St George – the enthroning of gods made in our own image that we might worship idols of our own making and very soon the spectres of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism emerge from the shadows: fanciful perhaps?
The truth is, anyone and everyone is crying out for visionary leadership, for a willingness to look beyond the here and now, to peer into the distance, to engage the far horizon, to dare to dream of what may lay beyond it, of that which is rising up to meet us. For us as Christians we have within our intellectual, our emotional, our spiritual grasp a vision unlike anything that has been seen throughout the whole of human history; a vision of the glory of God set forth in the person of the crucified, risen, exalted Christ. The problem is, we are too afraid to open our eyes to the truth that is the Gospel; for this same Jesus has laid down for a blueprint by which we might envision a world turned upside down, a world transformed to such an extent that it would be barely recognisable from the world we presently inhabit, a world so radically different it would be to all intent and purpose set within a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. It is our duty, and now more than ever, to offer to the world a vision that is ‘The Kingdom of God’, to evidence the reality of ‘God’s Kingly rule’ in our own lives and in the life of the Church. It is our duty…
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” (Woodrow Wilson).
But of itself a vision is nothing – a mere day dream, pie in the sky – unless it is earthed in reality…
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” (Jack Welch).
And so, as Christians we are called to confront the world with a vision of Christianity, albeit counter – intuitive, albeit  counter – cultural, one that speaks directly to the heart of the human condition, be that individually or collectively, a vision of Christianity that dares  to confront Racism, sexism, Homophobia – hatred of any kind – that dares to confront Materialism, Hedonism, self-gratification – excess of any kind – that dares to confront war and the rumour of war, terrorism,  individual acts of violence – hurt of any kind – that dares to confront the exploitation, misappropriation and desecration of the earth’s resources – selfishness of any kind…and this vision we have…simply this: that we would ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’… So, I have a dream today – words uttered by Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on 28th August 1963 – what would that dream be today, 10th September 2017…

That in the classrooms of our schools and colleges, sons and daughters of rich and poor alike will share together in realising their ambitions…
That all presently treated unjustly, oppressed by those for whom they work will no longer be enslaved, but be properly and fairly rewarded for their contribution to the nation’s wealth…
That children of today will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by colour, age, language, gender, or sexuality but simply by the content of their character…
That all people of every faith shall have freedom to worship their God wherever in the world they live; that no one shall be persecuted because they dare to believe differently from others…
That all people will one day be inspired by a loving heart & a forgiving spirit…At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father…
That one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

The Harvest of the Soul – The Vision of God’s People

‘I make all things new’ (Rev 21, 1a)
‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Prov 29, 18)

A lot of midnight oil has been burned in an attempt to understand the exact nature of the soul. You may be relieved to know that in preparation for today I have burned none. To me, in this context the ‘soul’ is that which while it is deep within us is the means by which we can go beyond ourselves. It is the impetus behind any vision we might have, the potential for which is prescribed by the faith we have in God in the light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The ’Soul’ for me is our ‘dream machine’ – not for nothing did Joel equate Visions and dreams – ‘Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions’. (Joel 2, 28). This was how Peter understood the vital work of the Holy Spirit when preaching @ Pentecost. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish is one of the most challenging verses in the whole of Scripture. And this challenge is laid firmly at the door of the Church, at our door.

This last week saw the publication of the latest UK Social Attitudes Survey, the headline from which was the statistic that for the first time less than 50% of the population claimed to be religious (any religion) with 35% identifying themselves as Christian. 71% of young people between 18 – 24 said they had no religion. And we should be very concerned: Daniel Finkelstein, writing in The Times last week wondered aloud what might take the place of religion as part of a nation’s psyche and all he could come up with was a resurgence of nationalism – the Cross of Jesus usurped by the Cross of St George – the enthroning of gods made in our own image that we might worship idols of our own making and very soon the spectres of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism emerge from the shadows: fanciful perhaps?
The truth is, anyone and everyone is crying out for visionary leadership, for a willingness to look beyond the here and now, to peer into the distance, to engage the far horizon, to dare to dream of what may lay beyond it, of that which is rising up to meet us. For us as Christians we have within our intellectual, our emotional, our spiritual grasp a vision unlike anything that has been seen throughout the whole of human history; a vision of the glory of God set forth in the person of the crucified, risen, exalted Christ. The problem is, we are too afraid to open our eyes to the truth that is the Gospel; for this same Jesus has laid down for a blueprint by which we might envision a world turned upside down, a world transformed to such an extent that it would be barely recognisable from the world we presently inhabit, a world so radically different it would be to all intent and purpose set within a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. It is our duty, and now more than ever, to offer to the world a vision that is ‘The Kingdom of God’, to evidence the reality of ‘God’s Kingly rule’ in our own lives and in the life of the Church. It is our duty

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” (Woodrow Wilson).

But of itself a vision is nothing – a mere day dream, pie in the sky – unless it is earthed in reality

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” (Jack Welch).

And so, as Christians we are called to confront the world with a vision of Christianity, albeit counter – intuitive, albeit  counter – cultural, one that speaks directly to the heart of the human condition, be that individually or collectively, a vision of Christianity that dares  to confront Racism, sexism, Homophobia - hatred of any kind – that dares to confront Materialism, Hedonism, self-gratification – excess of any kind – that dares to confront war and the rumour of war, terrorism,  individual acts of violence – hurt of any kind – that dares to confront the exploitation, misappropriation and desecration of the earth’s resources – selfishness of any kind…and this vision we have…simply this: that we would ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’… So, I have a dream today – words uttered by Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on 28th August 1963 – what would that dream be today, 10th September 2017…

  • That in the classrooms of our schools and colleges, sons and daughters of rich and poor alike will share together in realising their ambitions…
  • That all presently treated unjustly, oppressed by those for whom they work will no longer be enslaved, but be properly and fairly rewarded for their contribution to the nation’s wealth…
  • That children of today will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by colour, age, language, gender, or sexuality but simply by the content of their character…
  • That all people of every faith shall have freedom to worship their God wherever in the world they live; that no one shall be persecuted because they dare to believe differently from others...
  • That all people will one day be inspired by a loving heart & a forgiving spirit…At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father…
  • That one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”