Sermons from St Faith's     

The Fall of Eagles

Paula O'Shaughnessy,  Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Life can be very scary and unpredictable.  We fear the worst at times, we canít control everything that happens; much as we might try.  Sometimes the world seems to conspire against the desired outcome.  I was watching the 1970s drama series ĎFall of Eaglesí again, which tells the story from late 19th century up till the end of the first world war and the fall of the royal houses of Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary.  The tragedy of so much needless and futile loss of human life, in the pursuit of worldly power and dominance is laid bare.  King Edward VII speaks some prophetic words (in 1907, to his foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey), that the more certain the leaders are of where they want to go, and how to control events, the more certain the opposite outcome seems to be.  No leader of any of the powers wanted the dreadful carnage which ensued, yet inexorably events unfolded to the ultimate destruction of all.  Why?  Because hegemonic power and self-interests were at the heart of every decision made, and often done so in folly, against common sense, common good and total lack of consideration of the needs of others.  The amount of self-deception at work in the individuals who held the levers of power was breathtaking. Unfortunately, not much has changed today - and you could reasonably argue that things have actually got worse.  The killing power of armed forces has increased.

The kingdoms which fell - the eagles (so called because of the family crests of each of the royal houses), manufacturers of their own destruction, (and of course the people of those lands Ė the Russian royal family murdered by revolutionaries), were not in the image of Godís kingdom.  

Lukeís Gospel today talks of Godís kingdom - this being the opposite of worldly kingdoms.  Jesus tells his disciples to cure the sick and to then say to them that

Ďthe Kingdom of God is very near to youí

The power of God is passed on to the disciples, and they are entrusted with the power to do only good - to cure the sick and preach the Gospel.

The tricky part for the disciples, and ourselves as Christians, is to wield power only for good.  How easy to is to deceive ourselves that we are doing the right thing, when we are doing the wrong thing.  Self justification, telling ourselves that we are doing something for one reason when in reality we are doing it for another.  We may not have the power to send armies out, our power may be limited, but we each have a responsibility and sphere of influence.

It is not only our power, but our dependence on God which Luke is talking about.  If we put our faith in God, and we listen to the Gospel ourselves, then our whole understanding of life and the kingdom of God changes.  Then we realise our tendency to make poor decisions and judgements, and perhaps stop in time to listen to God and make the right decisions.

The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.

The fruits of this harvest are when we see good in the world.  It could be the work of Christian Aid, the Waterloo Partnership, Medecins sans Frontiers - where the volunteer doctors go out to war zones and places of extreme hardship, to give medical treatment and healing to the people there.  In a smaller way - it could be not saying something nasty or mean to someone or about someone.  Where we recognise the sanctity of life in all its forms, to live and let live.  Not to covet, or do harm.

Jesusí instructions to the disciples, to take no food or money, and to depend on the hospitality of the people, is where he is setting the ultimate challenge - to put faith in God, to be the undefended leader, to be vulnerable.  It also means, of course, that the disciple runs the risk of being exploited, or becoming too dependent upon the people he visits.  It is therefore a constant battle for the disciples.

Where the disciples are not made welcome, they are instructed to walk away.  

The ultimate destruction for those towns which reject the word of God is foretold.  For these are places where peace cannot reside.

Peace is to be our goal - to live in Godís way and to seek his ways of peace.  Through peace there is healing.  I will end with this prayer of St Luke:
Almighty God,
who inspired Your servant Luke the Physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of Your Son:
 Graciously continue in Your Church the love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of Your Name,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


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