Icons of the New Millennium
DON'T BE GOOD... BE GOD'S

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

End of Term Sermon at Derryvolgie 2000

Maybe 250 Derryvolgie kids have passed through our Hall in these past 6 years and many more that don’t come under my definition of Volgie kids.

Some of you I know well and some I don’t. Some of you know me and some of you don’t. We feel we’ve let each other down and I guess when I don’t know you I REAP WHAT I’VE SOWN. I’ve let other things block out our relationship.

Maybe you too leave with bland and insipid memories. Some of that may be our fault in planning programmes and building community. We apologise. But some of it may be you REAPING WHAT YOU SOWED too

I see you coming in and I watch you leave. I watch you through maybe the most significant part of your development into adulthood as you move into the real world. If I watched invisible you’d still be different leaving than arriving but I like to think that there is something about the place that helps shape and mould you into the person who heads out towards career and marriage and life.

Most times I smile as you leave. I say “who’d have believed that you’d become who you are as you go.”

Some times I cry inside at my failure or your seeming lack of interest to try to benefit from what we’ve tried to do.

Of course I realise too that who I look at tonight is not you. It’s you at this part of your journey and the good become bad, the bad could become good and the ugly could be the most beautiful being in heaven. I am very different than I was at 21. I ran 70 miles a week then and had then energy of peter Scullion and the build of Chris Guiney. I REAPED WHAT I SOWED. But we change and you will too

Many of you I have no doubts about. I am thrilled with the anticipation of meeting you in 20 years and seeing what you have done somewhere, anywhere, wherever to bring something of God’s kingdom and His will on earth as it is heaven.

Some of you I worry about. Where will you end up? What will become of you? When will you catch yourself on?!!!!!!!

We’ve prayed for everyone of you again this year, flat by flat, we’ve been concerned, we’ve been thrilled, we’ve been hurt and disappointed – as you have been with us.

And as you leave what do you say. Goodness. One last chance.

And tonight I feel fearful. Like a parent watching his children leave home. I let go. I’m petrified.

This week I read in Hanif Kureishi’s Midnight All Day these words: “We discuss the emptying out; the fear of living; the creation of wasteland; the denigration of value and meaning. I tell him melancholy was part of my interior scene and that I considered it to be the way the world was until I stood against it. I announce “People make themselves sick when they aren’t leading the lives they should be leading.”

PEOPLE REAP WHAT THEY SOW

I’m worried you’ll make yourselves sick.

I’M WORRIED ABOUT WHAT YOU’LL SOW

The life you should be leading. – not just the things you are doing that you shouldn’t be doing. Though folks can I say that following the hedonistic recklessness of alcohol abuse, drug experimentation or sexual promiscuity is just going to make you sick – YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

I think the life that you should be living is much more the positive than the negative. Finding who you are, what you have been gifted to do, exploring God’s world in God’s way and living life in all it’s fullness – YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

I believe that that life is rooted and founded and embedded in the grace of God. Living your life in the warm embrace of God’s unconditional love will make you strong and courageous for anything.

When the wasteland is pushing you into a corner to experiment in promiscuous sex or alcohol abuse or drugs you will probably only be able to stand against it if you know you are loved by God and therefore can sacrifice the love that those things would bring with your peers

When the wasteland is squeezing you into a money grabbing, materialistic, ladder climber and you are on a treadmill that takes you away from family, church and God with the lie of security and wealth’s goodness you will probably only be able to stand against it if you know you are loved by God and therefore can sacrifice the love that those things would bring with your peers

When the wasteland is telling you to be rational and scientific and more tolerant of whatever anybody believes about everything and you are being tangled in the web of new age, anything goes, existentialist insipidness you will probably only be able to stand against it if you know you are loved by God and therefore can sacrifice the love that those things would bring with your peers

When the wasteland is telling you to conform to the pattern of the church and dress this way and that and keep this cultural or political norm or this middleclass behavioural pattern as if it is somehow Biblical and you cannot find it in the Bible indeed you find suggestions that Jesus was against such things you will probably only be able to stand against it if you know you are loved by God and therefore can sacrifice the love that those things would bring with your peers

I pray that God’s love will be SOWN deep within you YOU WILL REAP A PLACE of love, security, significance and hope

But I pray that that warm place of eternal love is not a place that you will languish and go to sleep

I pray you’ll remember how we’ve tried to look at discipleship

Not a hand at a rally or a prayer prayed at beach missions or adherence to some creed or confession But a daily following the radical one The revolutionary who best stood against the wasteland

I pray you’ll carry that cross, take it up daily and follow him

The cross of loving your enemies in a place where that is frowned on as betrayal

The cross of being meek in a world where that is seen as madness

The cross of storing up treasure in heaven rather than here on earth

The cross of seeing the last in society as first and vica versa

The cross of being a servant to others

The cross of feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, welcoming in the stranger

The cross of living in the understanding that God sees every second of your day and smiles or weeps depending on what he sees.

Because he loves you unconditionally does not stop him bring hurt deep down inside by our actions

So as you go I tell you what Paul told the Church in Galatia “YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW”

I can remember not so many years ago some young people, not Derryvolgie students, sitting in my front room with the their heads and indeed their hearts in their hands. They were scratching their souls in dismay as the news had just been broken to them that one of their friends had hanged himself in a prison cell. He’d been one of them in Church and youth group. He’d had a good home but had just met a very tragic end. One of those lifted his head and said to me, “I wish I could go back to that moment when he made that one decision that led to this. It was all just a domino effect”. I’d never heard a better definition of wehat sin is. It’s not primarily a theological consequence of our actions but a warning of wrong decisions that effect our very breathing, heart pumping lives. Their friend had sadly REAPED WHAT HE HAD SOWN. For a moment of pleasure the consequences were fatal.

And as I throw out these seeds the way we did these last years

I wonder where it’ll fall

On the path where even as I speak you are not getting it or interested in living in his love or following or both

In the rocks where tonight you say yeh and say all the right words and sing with a great degree of vigour and enthusiasm but it’s all on the surface no depth

The thorns – it’s rooted, it’s growing but money and diaries and the wasteland of cultures ideas of fashion, wealth and hedonism will strangle it

Tonight I pray for good

Can I ask you to plough it, weed it, tend it

“People make themselves sick when they aren’t leading the lives they should be leading.”

YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW?

I pray for your sowing…

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