Mirror, Mirror
James 1:17-27

Some of you may remember during the Advent season last year we had a visual aid to help us focus on our brokenness and the light of Christ coming into the world to restore us to wholeness.  I’ve dug it out from downstairs in the dungeon to remind you once again where we started from both in the church year and in our lives, and also to remind you that Jesus restored us and made us whole again.

Most of you would have looked in a mirror this morning.  What did you see?  Did you see a whole person, a forgiven person, or did you see a distorted view of yourself?  Perhaps you still see a broken person as you take a short glance in the mirror.

Martin Luther said that we are all at the one time both sinner and saint.  Does the sinner in you cloud your vision of the saint that you truly are through Christ?  Does the sinner stop you seeing a person who has been made right before God?  Does the sinner in you stop you reflecting the love and forgiveness that God has given you to the people around you? Are you seeing yourself reflected like those mirrors you see in sideshow alley?  Perhaps a weird distorted view of yourself?

Are you like the people described in our James reading, do you take a look in and see the saint then as you look away immediately forget what you have just seen?  The mirror in the reading though is a metaphor, used to describe God’s word.  The people James was writing to didn’t have the benefit of the written word, bought quite cheaply, like we do.  They had to rely on the hearing of the word.  Many of us struggle to retain what we have only heard, we need to see or experience the word to take it on board, to remember it or to understand it.  Just hearing can be hard work, the use of the mirror as metaphor ‘reflects’ that difficulty because mirrors at the time were made from flat discs of highly polished bronze.  Much less reflective than the silver backed glass we use today.
James called for the doing of the word, not just hearing, he wanted the church to live in the blessing that they have received from God and not forget the salvation that they have been given through Christ.

We struggle too don’t we?  We have better mirrors, that is, the word of God printed for us, many of us have several versions on our bookshelves or bedside cupboards.  For many of us other things distract us and stop us from opening it up.  The things of the world get in the way.  We seem to be getting more and more television channels, with a broader selection of programming, (I’m not saying the content is improving necessarily), this often keeps us from reading.  The huge demand on our time from our work also impacts on the time we allocate to God, as does our list of ‘recreational’ activities like sport, music lessons, dance, motorbike riding, horse riding and the list goes on.

Sometimes we get so busy we don’t have the time to hear or read God’s word at all, we might go weeks without it.  We need to look in from time to time, to say no to the things of the world and listen or read the word of God.  Have you ever heard the saying ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?’, well this book we know as the Holy Bible is no different.  My main one has a black leather cover, it looks kind of daunting and perhaps it is, but unless we open them, how will we ever know about God’s love for us and his desire to have a relationship with us?

So what do we have in place to help us look in and to see and hear and remember what God is trying to say to us?  Our life as a congregation is an important first step.  Each Sunday we hold worship services, where we come together, read and hear God’s word and hear it proclaimed, hopefully into the context of our lives.  Unfortunately I’m probably preaching to the converted here this morning when I say that we are here each week, faithfully hearing and listening, but it seems that many of our congregational family we only see once or twice a month.  One of the greatest things about worship is that it helps us step away from the things of the world for a short time, to shift our focus from busyness and allows us to sit and be cared for through God’s word, to be nourished and healed.  We come and hear that our sins forgiven.  We receive forgiveness of sins through God’s word spoken to us and physically through his body and blood in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

Then what do we do with it?  Do we walk out of church on Sunday morning and forget what we have done, seen and heard as if we have just looked away from the mirror or do we continue to walk with God throughout the week ahead?  When we interact with others throughout the week do they see the reflection of Christ through us or a reflection of our sinful selves?  Someone who is a pious and overly religious person, or even a hypocrite, who says one thing and does another?  Would it be better for people to see the saint within us, someone who as a result of the love Christ has for us, loves and cares for others in response?

Do we need to change the way we reflect Christ to the community and those around us?  If so, how do we go about it?  I think we need to find ways to be more deliberate about hearing and knowing and doing God’s word, not in order to earn salvation, we already have that, given to us, but in order to live in response to the gift and help others to see and hear and build a relationship with God too.

We are here to help you.  That’s why we’ve employed Christie, to help us help you!  It’s been happening all along within this congregation, but we hope to enhance things a bit.  It begins with prayer, our prayers for you and for guidance as we together shepherd and lead you along the journey.  Through relational ministry, that is, caring, nurturing, teaching, visiting, helping, and worshiping together.  We put these things in place and help your leaders facilitate them.  But without you, we are wasting our time.

We need you to respond too, to gaze deeply into the mirror that is God’s word, to see his love reflected back to you as you support each other, care for each other, pray for each other, build relationships and worship together and reflect the joy that is knowing Jesus and his love for you.

He doesn’t want us reflect to the world who he is and what he means to us because he has implanted his love and truth within us, but it needs to be nurtured.  A flower without water will quickly wither and die.  A tree without roots will blow over quickly in the wind.  A Christian without nurture will quickly be distracted by the bells and whistles of life and be tempted away from the love of Christ and seek happiness in the arms of the world who will quickly become our false God.

I pray that God you will hear God’s word calling to you, to open up the cover of your Bible and to drink deeply from it.  To be here to hear God’s word and to be nurtured as you go about your life, reflecting the love God has for you and seeing his love for you in the mirror of his word.