Trinity 5 BCP
8am All Saints 26 June 2016
1 Peter 3. 8-15
Today’s Prayer Book Epistle –from the 1st Letter of St Peter, chapter 3, verses 8-15 was almost certainly written for the weekend after the EU referendum!
After a bruising and divisive campaign – millions of our fellow citizens will be disappointed by the result – and I am writing this homily on Polling day before the result is known.
For whichever side wins – there will be many who will be now be disappointed. This is not a party political point – it’s a simple fact.
And the truth is that whichever way we voted – we in this small island will still need to learn to live together whatever our views, and we will need to try and heal our divisions.
I believe the Church and individual Christians have an important role in a post referendum Britain, and I think our role is beautifully summed up by these verses from the first letter of St Peter.
So perhaps you will forgive me if I simply go through them again – but perhaps allow a slightly more modern translation of the Greek original to amplify the beautiful cadences of the Book of Common prayer.
St Peter starts with these words addressed to the Christian community in our dealings with each other
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
The NRSV pew bibles which we use translates this in another way
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Whichever way you translate it – the message is clear
We are to treat each other – even our opponents – with sympathy, compassion and courtesy. That’s our starting point. And for a Christian, it’s not optional, it’s mandatory. That is what the Lord expects from us and nothing less.
But then St Peter goes on to say something even more important
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
This is a complicated sentence – so this is what the NRSV makes of it
9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.
As Christians we are called to respond to abuse – not with more abuse – but with blessing
We are called to be a blessing to other people
And that applies in all circumstances – when we are debating politics – when we are debating religions – when we are driving a car – when we are cross and tired and coping with our colleagues at work or our family, friends or neighbours at home.
St Peter takes this calling so seriously that he even quotes from the bible at this point – so the next 3 verses are a quotation from Psalm 34
“Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.”
So let us seek peace and pursue it, so that we can bring healing to our divided land and become the Blessing for others that God has called us to be. Amen.
John de Wit