Reason to boast

Philippians 3. 4-14

John 12.1-8

If anyone has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more!

Baptized as a baby brought up in the church,

Geordie through and through

Fifth generation of Methodism runs in our family,

as a fully signed up, confirmed member of the Anglican Church, I am also a resurrected Methodist, thanks to my connections now in an L.E.P.

Charismatic, baptized in the Holy Spirit, in the year 1973 and spoke in tongues not long afterwards.

I have ****G.C.E.'s and ****A levels

I was a teacher for 25 years, served with distinction, and am a priest with a diploma in theology. Entered the housing market in 1974, and I own a car.

As to zeal, evangelistic…out to gather the lost sheep in, every one of them.

And righteousness under the rules, I don't do too badly! No criminal record yet!

And yet…all this that I' ve struggled to achieve and all that I am is not important now, because of Christ. More than that I count everything as loss, now because I now have a much higher vision of wanting to actually know Christ. I regard all of these things as so much rubbish, in order that I just might have Christ, and be found in him.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the sharing of his sufferings…

I 've put my past behind me, and I try to press on and achieve new goals that I've set myself…

So says St Paul in not so many words.

To know Christ?

How does one get to know Christ…

Does the gospel today give us any clues.

There are two main characters in the scene with Jesus.

One of them is distant, cold, aloof, judgemental. He is quick to pick up the fact that the expensive ointment Mary is pouring out over Jesus feet is a waste…a sheer and utter waste, the money should have gone into a worthier cause.

Now in our society today, we can all do this quite easily, we can sit back, listen to the news and not get involved with the big issues of the day.

We tell the government what should be done and who should do it and when… rather like a football fan sat in an armchair with his pint of lager in one hand and his bowl of crisps in the other.

Here he advising the players and the referee in no uncertain terms, how the game really should be played, but he himself does not actually offer to demonstrate what he means.

He is not there in the thick of the action, and he's not happy, he is critical, he has different agenda and devious ideas of where the money ought to go, being the keeper of the purse.

The scripture says he was a thief, and used to help himself to the common purse. He says these things because he is out purely for himself.

I with a capital letter….number 1.

Then we have Mary, the second of the two characters.

Jesus is there and also Lazarus, at table, fresh from his life and death miracle.

There may have been others there too, all being waited on by Martha; and Mary is giving her full attention, focusing on Jesus' needs.

This runs true to other stories we hear about them.

Mary's mind is not on herself but upon Jesus' needs. She is doing Jesus a service, a service at great cost to herself.

She seems know his thoughts, probably because she has spent time in his company, so much so that she knows his destiny, she dreads his coming death and has saved her oil for that day. She uses a pound of nard there and then, as a love offering.

She knows Christ, just like St Paul.

She really knows him, she shares in his suffering. It is akin to a love relationship. And Jesus accepted what she had to offer, and didn't belittle what she gave, even though Judas' statement may well have been true, the money really could have been given to the poor, but Jesus affirmed her.

We too are called to know Christ in that way are we not to know him. The question is do we?

We can only answer that for ourselves.

Do we make the time to sit in his presence, and commune with him,. There's a chance to do this here soon on April 3rd. Do we walk with him in town or country and listen?

Do we spend time meditating on his life, and try to imitate him in our world?

What is the real goal of our lives in society? The ultimate goal?

What is it we really desire at present. Is it this? Do we run round and round in circles, and get nowhere really, or do we seek the mind of Christ, and ask him what his purpose is for our lives?

It's rather like the Old Testament writer who spent his life trying to attain happiness, but discovered after all his pointless searching it was all a chasing after wind….pointless.

Why? Because he was trying to find himself.

The all important 'I'

(ILLUSTRATION: 5 JENGA building bricks representing achievements : one cross piece made of brown cardboard, which hangs on a thread, to cross out the 'I')

But there is a point to life. In Christ all things are made new and exciting, and being enriched by Christ, not only does he enrich our lives, but also the people around us.

Let us be challenged today to try and define what our true goal is, and resolutely press on to achieve it.