In this message, Fr Richard Healey reflects on a theatre production they attended and draws parallels between the unity and synchronisation of the production and the desired unity within the church. They discuss the importance of actions aligning with beliefs, referencing the two sons in the gospel. The speaker then references a poem or song written by St Paul (Philippians 2) that reflects on the life and ministry of Jesus, emphasising his humility and invitation to a relationship with him. They highlight the transformative power of encountering God and surrendering oneself to his love, leading to a change in thoughts, actions, and unity within the church. The episode concludes with an encouragement to listeners to open themselves to the gift of the Holy Spirit and be renewed by God’s love.
I’ve never been a great theatre goer, but thankfully I have a friend who sometimes takes pity on me and when she’s got a spare ticket, she’ll invite me to one of the shows. I remember going to this one particular production and I was just completely gobsmacked by the whole event. Everyone in the audience you knew was spellbound. The actors were just amazing: they knew their stuff. There was just this synchronicity between the singing and the dancing, between the lighting, between the sound effects, the stage, all of the props. Everything was just stunning and amazing. And it was an incredible experience to be there in the audience, just watching it all unfold around us. And in some ways, I think Paul is wanting us as a church to be like that production: to be so well rehearsed, to be of one mind with each other that we do all these things with this unity of heart, that we bring all things into union with God, that we had the same mind as Jesus that inspires us, that that captures us.
(00:01:12) – And so all of the different components, all the different parts of what it is to be a church are brought together in this wonderful production. And people who come and experience the church are just in a likewise way, just blown away by how much we love one another, how much the unity is so clear and so evident, but we realise that that’s a pretty high kind of bar to be set. And for so many of us, we realise that the two sons in the gospel are more like what we experience within the church. The sense of this two faced kind of nature that we have because in the time of Jesus and indeed still within Judaism, they’re much more interested in what you do than in what you think you know, it’s an action religion. It’s a religion that’s about the praxis that the belief system as it’s actually lived out. You know, I don’t care exactly whether you disagree with a particular teaching as long as you do the right thing. At the end of the day, as long as you live well, as long as you are faithful to the Torah and to the teachings of Moses, and of course, for Jesus, you are faithful to him.
(00:02:32) – And so for him, this whole sense is that we need to be captured about the reason why the underlying things. And Paul is always this master at offering us these insights into why we should be doing the things that we need to do. And he brings us into this beautiful poem, this beautiful song, reflecting upon the very life and ministry of Jesus who he said, though even though he was in very nature God, he did not cling to that equality with God. But he confesses, He emptied himself. He let go of all of that so that he could just continue to be for us that sign of what a human being could be. You know, Jesus invites us into this relationship. He invites us into this full service of the Lord. And it’s such a wonderful thing that Jesus entrusts us with us. He expects that, yes, we will be able to be faithful to that teaching, to those commandments. We will be able to live that, not by our own strength. It’s never going to be by our own strength, because we will be like those two sons there in the gospel.
(00:03:47) – We will say one thing, do something else will be so muddled in our thinking, so muddled in our action. But once we begin to see the work of God, once we begin to be in this relationship with God, once we discover the personal possibility of a relationship with Jesus, suddenly all those things begin to be possible. Because we open ourselves, we open our hearts to the work and the action of the Holy Spirit. And that’s where everything in our lives begins to change. When we realise that it’s not just what I do, it’s not just good thoughts that I have. It’s not just the things that I do, but it’s this personal encounter with the living God made possible in and through the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s when everything begins to change. That’s when we realise that, yes, my prayer isn’t just a bunch of words that I say, but I can get up and put feet to my prayers. I can get up and bring this action into the world. And this transformation happens first in our minds, in our hearts, as we
(00:04:59) – experience and encounter what it was to be in that relationship with with Jesus, what it was to be to have that same mind that Jesus has, and suddenly all these other things begin to flow, begin to fit into place, and we begin to understand the true impulse of the Lord, to reach out in justice, to see the needs of others, to not just be so consumed and so caught up by what my own needs are. But I begin to move into that sense of caring for others as well. It all comes as we begin to experience that love for ourselves, as we surrender ourselves, as we enter into that emptying of all of our own agendas in order to make room for God’s, in order to make room in our hearts and our minds, for the love of Jesus, to really begin to be fostered and begin to be experienced, then we can begin to to change ourselves. And we begin to be the people that God has wanted us to be. And then as a community, we can begin to think and to act with a unity and a beautiful unity of mind and heart.
(00:06:10) – Let’s pray that we will indeed open ourselves to that gift, that we will spend that time this week just being renewed by God’s love and allow the gift of the Holy Spirit to fall for afresh upon us so that we can continue to open ourselves to His wonder and to His grace today.