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Choosing Life
Paula O'Shaughnessy, April 12th, 2015

Let us choose life new life resurrection.  Which is offered to us by God.
The alternative death and destruction we must reject.

The Psalm today gives us the ultimate assurance:
It is you, Lord, who make me dwell in safety

This promise of stability and hope sustains us in a world which is fraught with dangers, evil and uncertainty.  The risen Christ appears to the disciples at once brings great joy and faith, by his very presence.  He then instructs them he is sending them out as his witnesses in the world.

Our actions our very actions will determine the course of history, the Gospel living and breathing amongst the people or not or not or not.  Does the Gospel live and breathe in us?  For in the words of Teresa of Avila

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

My grandad was a great storyteller.  He told me once this story about when he was growing up in a poor part of Liverpool (Kirkdale) between the wars.  Tuberculosis was endemic in the area, and people lived in abject poverty slum dwellings, damp housing, poor diet.  You would think that there would have been a comradeship and neighbours helping one another out.  But no, there was division and snootiness neighbours looking down on neighbours.  My grandad (known as Jack), when he was a young lad remembers a certain young girl, about 14 years old, called Hilda Mercer.  She wore a washed out looking pink dress, and would stand on the front door step of the house where she lived with her brother.  Her parents were both dead.  Hilda would try to catch the attention of Jack, when he would walk by haughtily, giving only a sniffy 'morning' in response.  Hilda died within a few years, succumbing to the TB herself, like her parents before her.  My grandad was racked with guilt, and he was haunted by this memory years later when he told me about it.  He realised too late the loss of failing to reach out, in humanity and in the name of Christ to his neighbour.

Every action  in the world has a consequence.  The person who suffers, trapped in a cruel experience, a result of thoughtless or hateful act knows that consequence.  The person who receives kindness and love, knows that consequence.

In our world today so changed by globalisation, electronic communications - we need God more than ever.  Online cyber bullying which has resulted in suicides of school children, death threats to people on Twitter over the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear.  The blurring of realities in people's minds seems to have created a new kind of evil monster in the world.  The electronic, global beast shields our senses from the human reality.  When we click on 'a certain, global online retailer' for books or other items, we don't see the misery of the galley slave like conditions in the warehouses here in this country.....  When we buy our leather goods, we don't see the chemically and socially toxic conditions of the workers in places like Dakha, in the Punjab, India.....What is the name of the beast?  Well, this particular manifestation of the many headed beast, which has been with us throughout the ages is neo-liberalism (sometimes called the 'New World Order').  It's not got anything to do with good old fashioned enlightened liberalism.  It's a bit like those countries that have the words 'democratic republic of' in the title.  You know they're nothing of the sort.  Neo-liberalism in short turns everything and everyone into commodities, de-humanises, rationalises into units for exploitation and utilisation.

In this morning's epistle, John reminds us that we are God's children. Still God's children.  We need to hang on to this.  Let us not close ourselves off from God, but to be open to hear his word and to act upon it.  This means that we see the value of each human life and everyone's right to dignity and right to life.  In our global, cyber world, we need to seek God, to remember that man is made in God's image and to value all of God's creatures.

The Christian religious communities can be an inspiration to us.  Mirfield, with its Benedictine tradition is a beacon in a harsh world, with their vows of stability, obedience and conversion of life.

Stability in the post-modern world.  Where engagement with God is a daily commitment.
Obedience which literally means listening, is key to developing the relationship with God.
Conversion the daily journey, turning away from death and towards life, from what we were to what we will be in God.  A conversion the world being transformed by the kingdom of heaven.

Let us pray now, that we will grow ever more, as people of the resurrection, as God's Holy People.  Amen

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