Don’t trust the robots – they have no heart!

Don’t trust the robots — they have no heart!

Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-17

I am not always worthy of the calling I have received as a minister in the United Reformed Church because with some telephone calls my patience runs thin and I admit love is totally absent from the conversation. I certainly do not sound humble or gentle and I have given up trying to make peace with the robotic voice I must communicate with.

I am sure you have all had a similar experience and I find it challenging, to say the least, to form a relationship with a robot that has not been programmed to respond with the emotions of compassion and love that are the root of our relationships.

As I become frustrated and angry I am given an empty apology and played some music that, I assume, is meant to calm me down in preparation for the human I wait for in the hope of having a problem resolved. We are not infants any more in this world of technology, are we? We know that we are about to be tossed back and forth from one shore to another and blown here and there by every excuse that crafty and cunning people can imagine!

It’s as if Paul is warning us to be wary of technology that will evolve and Love can only be stored in the heart of humanity and not programmed into a computer. Yes, I get frustrated by people, even in church would you believe, but it is possible that with humility, gentleness, patience and love the Spirit will unite us in the bond of peace.

With people we can speak the truth in love and grow to know Christ better so that we can then make him better known through the relationships that are shaped, but you can’t programme the emotions into a robot. I can’t imagine having a romantic meal with a robot or listening to a computer lead prayers or my best friend being a voice on the telephone with a number not a name!

The Kingdom of God is built through people who bear with each other in love and are united by the one Spirit, one Lord and one God who is Father of all and gives us the gifts to care for the world and each other so we should not let the computers take control of us!

Instead of building empires in the world the Church is called to shape a Kingdom in which the will of God is being done. It’s the place where we work together as one Body and one Spirit, with one hope and one of everything else so that we are united in the ONE LOVE.

I fear the Church is being dragged into the world of empire building and it won’t be long before the big mega congregations take over and when people want to make contact with the local minister they will hear this message:

Thank you for calling your local church. Please select one of the following options:

Press 1 if you want to speak to an apostle about a letter you have received.

Press 2 to speak to a prophet about a prophesy you have heard

Press 3 if you want to speak to an evangelist about a future mission plan.

Press 4 if you want to speak to a pastor about a visit and prayers for healing.

Press 5 if you want to speak to a teacher about bible study…..

Sorry, but my patience will have been exhausted before the music plays and you won’t see much humble, gentle love uniting me and the voice machine with the Spirit of peace. I don’t know how to escape it, but modern technology isn’t always bringing us together in relationship with God or each other. If heaven had voicemail I can imagine praying and being told:

Press 1 for all prayer requests

Press 2 for thanksgiving prayer

Press 3 for any complaints

Press 4 for all other inquiries….

Then, when I have pressed the appropriate number, I am told:

I’m sorry; all our angels are busy helping other sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received, so please stay on the line…”

Or, most probably, you will hear another series of instructions:

If you would like to speak to Gabriel, Press 1

for Michael, Press 2

for a directory of other angels, Press 3

If you would like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you are holding, please Press 4.

To find out if a loved one has been assigned to Heaven Press 5, enter loved one’s Social Security number, then press the pound key. If you get a negative response try area code 666. For reservations at “My Father’s House” please enter J-O-H-N followed by 3-1-6.

For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth and where Noah’s Ark is, please wait until you arrive here.

I am sure many of us could also hear the message at the end of the process saying:

Our computers show that you have already prayed once today. Please hang up and try again tomorrow….

My friends, if you are frustrated by people in the community, or angry with people in church, or exhausted by family, be encouraged today that if they seem to have a stubborn mind like a computer that can’t be changed THEY have a heart that can be filled with love if you are humble and gentle and patient with them.

If your relationships are not helping build the body of Christ you can always — ALWAYS — give God a call and you will be heard and answered ’cause there is no voicemail in heaven! You might wish there was if God tells you that YOU are the awkward one….

Thanks be to God, whose church on earth RS 582

Read: John 6: 24-35

When the sat nav didn’t work as we started the car for our journey to Lymington last week I realised how much we have come to depend on technology more than God. I could get lost without the sat nav and a voice telling me which way to go!

I then had a conversation with Jesus and remembered that he is my everything and that with him we have everything we need. Me and Jesus have had a lot of conversations over the years, like Peter and Jesus, and those conversations have shaped my faith.

We are becoming more dependent on technology for our communication and information, but God doesn’t store the wisdom we need on a computer memory for he has written it into the heart of humanity. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1: 14) to provide us with everything we need.

Jesus is our food and drink and when we come to him we will never be hungry and if we believe in him we will never be thirsty. He is our Daily Bread for our hunger and Living Waters that will refresh us, but he is also the true and fruitful vine; the true and living way; the one true light of the world. That’s what Jesus the Lord says he is….. Jesus is our everything!

If you don’t eat or drink for a week you almost certainly won’t have the strength to get to church on Sunday so don’t expect Weekly Bread to sustain you and drink regularly from the water Jesus gives and you will never be thirsty, as he told the Samaritan woman at a well. (John 4: 13) God gives us our Daily Bread when we ask, but do we ask for it everyday?

For Jesus “his food” is too do the will of the Father who sent him and to finish his work (John 4: 34) and that is what will sustain us in our ministry. We don’t have to take anything with us when we travel because Jesus is our everything. We don’t need the sat nav, because Jesus is The Way (John 14: 6) and his Word will be the lamp for our feet and the light on the road we must drive (Psalm 119: 105).

When Jesus sent out the 12 (Luke 9) and then a further 72 (Luke 10) to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick they didn’t need to take anything because he was their everything. Our everything is on this table and we don’t need to ask God for miracles, but to receive the gifts that can manifest within us to reveal the kingdom of God.

Jesus is the Bread made in heaven and the Word is our Daily Bread and you can be like a woman who makes it by mixing your yeast into the flour so that it works through the dough to reveal the kingdom of God. (Luke 13: 20) Just imagine you are like freshly baked bread from heaven that people can’t resist breaking and sharing with each other!

At my first church in Leeds six members of the congregation would leave when communion was shared because they couldn’t understand how we could be eating the flesh of Jesus. The symbolism of Jesus being our spiritual food and drink was totally lost, but this is also a call for US to be the daily bread and for springs of living water to well up within us as refreshment for the thirsty.

When we know Jesus better we will better know who God wants us to be and THEN we will make Jesus better known in the community. Are you like the fresh baked bread that everyone wants to taste or like the water that Jesus will change into wine to the amazement of everyone at the party?

The candle burns on the table not at the centre of a romantic meal but because Jesus the Lord says, I am the light, the one true light of the world am I, but he also says YOU are the light of the world! Are you like a flame shining in the darkness or are you hiding away because you don’t want everyone to see what you are doing in the light?

What Jesus says he is I suggest is for us to be and what we do today is to follow him so we can know him better and reveal the everything that everyone needs to have for every journey they make. So, with Jesus in our car we don’t need a sat nav because he will show us the way to the Kingdom and where better to be?