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Sunday 27 February 2022: Epiphany 8, Eighth in Ordinary time, Proper 3

You are what you do
Sirach 27:4-7; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Luke 6:39-49

By Shirley Murphy
Church in Wales Priest, Blogger & Chaplain to the Bishop of St David’s

Context: an Anglican Eucharistic service at a rural church in Wales with a mixed aged group congregation

Aim: the foundation makes all the difference.

GOD’S WORD

If you cast your minds back to August 2021, you’ll remember there was flooding all over Europe. We saw pictures of people wading through their homes removing their belongings, homes being swept away by flood water. There’s not much that can withstand the power of great water, however, if a house is going to survive the flood it must be well built. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is showing that as we build the house that represents our lives, we’ve got choices to make. What is the beginning of a strong house? If the house of my life is to be strong, it must have a solid foundation.

 

GOD’S WORD PRODUCES FRUIT

As we take in the teaching of our Lord it becomes to us like the root system of a tree. Have you ever wondered at the miracle of trees producing certain types of fruit? Compare an apple tree to a maple tree. What’s different? DNA, cell structure? The bottom line is these trees produce what God intends for them to produce.

A tree with a healthy root system, trunk, and leaves will produce healthy fruit. A sick tree will not produce healthy fruit. Weeds and thorn bushes generally don’t produce fruit.

As we take in God’s Word we will become more like Jesus, and we will produce the same type of fruit He produces.

Jesus shows us that one example or display of fruit is our speech. Are we gossips, grumblers, backbiters or are we speaking words that encourage and build up? It’s not the words themselves that are either good or evil, it’s the heart that produces them. It’s important to ask yourself: ‘what does my speech indicate about my heart?’

 

GOD’S WORD IS THE SOLID FOUNDATION

To show us how important God’s Word is for our lives and for the life to come, He uses the analogy of building houses. Whenever I read this text, I always think about the houses built along the sea.

Picture with me two houses built from the same blueprint along the sea, one has a sure foundation on the bedrock and the other has a foundation on sand. The houses are very attractive. Both have nice decks surrounding them. Both are located in very nice settings along the water’s edge. You can walk into each one, look around and discover both look just alike and are very attractive. As long as the sun is shining, and birds are singing everything is fine. But around August the weather channel begins tracking a hurricane that is headed straight for both houses. Waves begin to wash up around the houses. The first wave washes some of the sand away. The house with sand as its foundation immediately moves. Another wave hits the house and pulls it closer to the edge of the water and finally, the house falls with a great crash.

The other house is not built on sand but just has sand around it. It’s actually built on the rock that is 60 feet below. Surf comes up the beach and washes the sand away, but this house remains unaffected. After the storm is over the first house is a pile of twisted boards and the second house doesn’t even have a hairline crack in the drywall.

What’s the difference? Foundations! The storm was the same for both houses. The point Jesus is making in this section is really two-fold.

If you are going to be able to stand in this world, you must first take in biblical truth and secondly, you must build your lives on this rock-solid truth. Like always, doing the Word is as important as hearing the Word. This is really Jesus’ emphasis in these verses.

Jesus uses the metaphor of building a house. All of us are building houses. Each one of us in the room is building a house. If you’re living, you’re building a house. You may live in an apartment or a dorm room, but you’re building a house. You’re building a house with your life, and the foundation you’re building on will make all the difference in the house that you’re building. And interestingly, Jesus says you will know what foundation you are building on by what it is that you put into the house. Each of us is building a house, and the question then is in light of Jesus’ exhortation and warning — are we building a house on the right foundation?

In conclusion, we need to remember that: ‘our deeds are not a sufficient foundation. Only Jesus is a sufficient foundation.’

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