In many ways Rev Sheila Cameron’s sermon on 9 October continued the theme of faith that she had started the week before. Here are some extracts …

Naaman the successful commander thought that something spectacular had to be done to get God’s attention, and especially for him, because he was such an important person: “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!” But the elusive prophet Elisha didn’t even come out of his house or perform any spectacular rituals at all. And Naaman the warrior was offended. But he received the gift of healing as a reward for the grain of faith he carried with him, obeying the instruction to wash seven times in the River Jordan, and his response was to praise God and make thank offerings to Elisha.

All we need is that tiny grain of faith and the willingness to place everything in the hands of God. Don’t we have a tendency to make life more difficult for ourselves than is necessary? Don’t we assume we have to make extraordinary efforts to increase attendance in our churches? But our efforts on behalf of the church would be in vain without the gifts of faith and prayer and in vain without the power of God.

Thinking of the plight of many churches in recent years, these efforts didn’t seem to bear much fruit in terms of greatly increased numbers in the pews, and several denominations have had to close down many of their buildings as being no longer affordable, but that doesn’t mean that the Christian faith is moribund. We may have been powerless to recreate Sunday attendance as it was a generation ago, but the life of the church continues to bear witness to the presence and grace of God in its openness to every individual. The recent lockdowns have forced us to explore new ways of doing things, reaching out to house-bound and isolated worshippers, and have revealed people’s hunger for God through the often amazing response to online offerings.

We preach the gospel of a Christ alive in the midst of us, calling us to bring the world back to God though nurturing tiny seeds of faith and growing them into a harvest of praise and thanksgiving. And our faith is strengthened daily by awareness of his grace, by the experience of faith rewarded. We who know Christ as our Saviour, who can identify with Christ on the cross, or who have encountered the risen Lord in the course of our life’s journey, have an unshakable confidence that he will always be with us and, as we cherish this certainty and live it day by day, we long to share it with all whom we meet.


Do read the whole of Sheila’s sermon at this link.

The image of the Cleansing of the ten lepers comes from the Codex Aureus Epternacensis (c. 1035–1040). The scribe/artist is unknown, and the image comes via Wikimedia Commons.

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