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16th February 2014 - Evening - Revd. Paul Snape

Sermon for Evensong - 16th February 2014
Amos 3: 1-8
Ephesians 5: 1-17

If one looks at the two readings chosen for tonight, the first is very appropriate for this service here at St Chad's with a number of farmers present, because the first reading from Amos was in fact written by a man of the land. Amos was a prophet who lived about 800 years before Christ, and amongst the many jobs he had to do with his work we are told that he planted fruit trees.

But he was well-known particularly because he spoke the word of God. He was chosen by God to tell the ordinary folk of that time what God wanted them to hear.

What Amos is saying is important. It gives various examples and goes on to say in verse 7; ' Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets '.

In other words he is telling the people, that people like Amos know what they are talking about - for goodness sake listen.

Looking now at the 2nd of our two readings which came from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

To be honest we don't have an exact date for its writing though it is believed to have been written 'around' the year 60/65 AD, just before the first gospel, that of St Mark, was written.

This letter is concerned first of all with God's plan, to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as its head. It is also an appeal to God's people to live out the meaning of this great 'plan' for the unity of mankind through oneness in Jesus Christ.

In the first part of this letter to the Ephesians, from which our 2nd reading was taken tonight, the writer develops the theme of unity by speaking of the way in which God the Father has chosen his people, how they are forgiven and set free from their sins through Jesus Christ the son, and how God's great promise is 'guaranteed' by the Holy Spirit.

You see that you can get a guarantee with a boiler; but they didn't invent guarantees, did they?

It has been said about the letter to the Ephesians, the 'tone' is so calm that it is almost 'impersonal'! It was written by someone who would appear, not to know too well the people he was writing to!

'To the Saints who are 'at Ephesus'. This was almost a general circular into which each local community could just add the name of the recipients themselves.

The writing is so 'un-Paul like' could be a brilliant forgery; or perhaps it was written by Paul - an older Paul - a mellower Paul. Scholars have debated this over the years, but some have just left it for what it is - a brilliant piece of writing.
But to the letter itself, and chapter 5 in particular. ' Living in the Light ' is a goos title to this chapter.

In verse 1 we read, ' Your life must be controlled by love ', a wonderful instruction for us all.

Read the passage again when you have time (Ephesians 5); it is a magnificent instruction for each one of us. If we as a congregation did that, we won't go far wrong, and we will be making the world a better place.