Sermon by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu
Bible Readings: Psalm 46; Micah 4: 1 – 5 and Matthew 5: 1 – 12
May I speak in the Name of the Son, In the Power of the Holy Spirit,
To the Glory of God the Father. Amen
“Peace will flower when Love and Justice pervade our Environment”. Words of Archbishop Oscar Romero inscribed on the back of my Pectoral-Cross – which was made for me by Gabriella, an orphan rescued by the Archbishop.
“Peace will flower when Love and Justice pervade our Environment”. Love without justice is hypocrisy. Justice without love is tyranny.
The Christian Faith is not a religion. It is living the Life of God. Fallible people living the life of Jesus Christ. And this Life is: having a relationship with God.
As the Beatitudes, in our Gospel Reading from Matthew Chapter Five, put it, it is nothing less than the Blessedness of God. And those who enter into God's life abundant they discover that this life is free from the vicissitudes of human life. It is a bliss, a joy, that no one can take away from those who are in Christ.
In a real sense the Beatitudes are the essence of the essence of life in Christ Jesus. And the most striking thing is that in the Greek text there is no verb in all of the nine Beatitudes. They are therefore not statements but exclamations:
Oh the Blessedness of the poor in spirit!
Oh the Blessedness of the sorrowful!
Oh the Blessedness of the gentle!
Oh the Blessedness of the hungry and thirsty for righteousness!
Oh the Blessedness of the merciful!
Oh the Blessedness of the pure in heart!
Oh the Blessedness of the peacemakers!
Oh the Blessedness of the persecuted in the cause of right!
Oh the Blessedness of the reviled and persecuted for Jesus Christ’s sake!
The Christian Life is also a relationship with our fellow human beings. Loving God and neighbour. It is not sentimental but a way of living. It is putting God and others at the centre of our existence. Stopping and consciously putting ourselves before God. Then consciously loving our neighbour.
And so finding ourselves surprised by the joy of discovering that this Life in God answers our thirst for meaning and gives us our true identity. Yes! Living a Christ-like life full of Joy which gives us the capacity to be loyal to Jesus Christ and to our fellow human beings. “Choosing to suffer wrong than do wrong”.
As Psalm 46 and Prophet Micah put it, “God is with us” stilling the storms of life and flooding our lives with his love. And acknowledging that a day is coming when God will banish war and all weapons. Therefore, what we must do in the present is to be still and know God. And serve our neighbour.
“Peace will flower when love and Justice pervade our Environment”. This peace is ushered in by Love of God and neighbour. Love of God and Love of neighbour are like a pair of wings, and as soon as they are disentangled from every impediment we fly to God and neighbour. So let us fly! Let us fly to God and neighbour!
“Peace will flower when Love and Justice pervade our Environment”.
In memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, Father God, make us better men and women, boys and girls, and give peace in our time. Amen
The Archbishop's Remembrance Prayer
The Archbishop's Remembrance Prayer, published in the Yorkshire Post, to mark 100 years since the signing of the First World War Armistice. We Will Remember Them.
God of heaven and earth
as we wear our poppies from Flanders Fields,
we remember solemnly before you
the men and women who gave their lives in the cause of peace,
and those who bear today the wounds of war.
Spur us on to pray and build reconciliation, justice, and truth throughout the world
until your Kingdom comes on earth as in heaven.
We offer this prayer in the company of Christ, the Prince of peace.