Tag Archives: illness

Sermon preached on 18 August 2013


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The Show Must Go On!

Not much should prevent the preacher from taking a service.

I remember reading about a vicar in a lonely rural parish.  His wife died suddenly on Christmas Eve but he still went to his little church on Christmas Day to conduct worship and administer the Sacrament.  Nobody turned up, but, as he had to, he went through the whole liturgy – all on his own

If we are to be truly professional and true to our calling, then we should try to rise above personal circumstances.

My father (aged 62) died in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow early on a Saturday evening. I went back to the family home and stayed until 10 or 11 p.m. Drove the 30 odd miles back to my manse, grabbed a sandwich, and spent half the night preparing a sermon – which I preached during Sunday worship while conducting the service A quick bite and then back down the road to Bearsden.

And I loved my Dad dearly – it wasn’t a case of “couldn’t care less”

I conducted my Mother’s funeral just a handful of years ago.   And wrote the Eulogy for my late wife’s service last June.

I’ve been in the pulpit with a bleeding nose, migraine, flu and a cracked open skull following being beaten up (this was on  Christmas Eve (and there is a post about it on this blog – you’ll find it at 6 May 2012)

Thick-skinned?  Some may say so…. but one is called to spread the Message “in season and out of season”


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Some questions…..

Why do doctors and lawyers call what they do practice?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

Why is it that when you’re driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on your radio?

Why is a boxing ring square?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

How did a fool and his money get together in the first place?

There are indeed a lot of things in this life that we just really don’t understand.

But let me take it to a deeper and more disturbing level. For example, we don’t really understand disease.  Why is a youngster perfectly healthy for 13 years of his life… and then suddenly just happens to be in a place where he suddenly encounters some germ or bacteria that invades his body and destroys it? This happens in meningitis cases.

And we don’t understand accidents.  They are so random and indiscriminate. You start out a day that is like any other day… and then something happens in a matter of seconds… and life is forever different.  You can never go back beyond that accident.

On and on we could go with our list… of things we don’t really understand.

Why is there so much pain in our world? Why do good people suffer? Why do we hurt one another? Why can’t people get along? And why do some of the best prayers seem to go unanswered?

Now, all of these difficult questions prompt us to raise yet another crucial question: What can we count on from God?  When we face the troubles of the world, the heartaches of life, the tough challenges of this existence… what can we count on from God?

Christ tells a parable – a rather strange parable. It involves two people: an unjust arrogant judge and a humble but persistent woman.  The judge ignores her at first, but finally grants her justice because she is so persistent.  She won’t give up and she won’t go away… so eventually he gives in and comes through for her.

Now that’s the parable. Jesus then makes his point and he frames it in the form of a question.

He says, if an unjust judge gives this woman justice how much more will God bring about justice for his chosen ones?

A loving God hears our struggles, hears our cries of help and then responds to them.


A tragedy left the man homeless, widowed and fatherless. Fire had swept through his house, and all was lost. It took some time for the full weigh of the loss to descend, and when it did, he was nearly crushed.

Like Job in the O.T. he would not be comforted…When the gift of shock was lifted, anger, resentment filled every waking thought.

God had not been fair to him God had not protected his family. He had not come to him with a special visitation to explain the “why” and the “what next”.The greatest temptation was to add to his losses by forfeiting his faith.

He felt justified. No one would fault him. Some might even support him. He prayed angrily now, daring god to hurt him further, challenging him if you like.

He prayed angrily, but he prayed, and God could handle it….The anguish continued to mount until one afternoon he uttered a cry so forcefully, it could only be described as a scream. No word was spoken, just a loud angry scream against the forces of heaven and hell, as if to say, “I’ve hurt all I can, and I’ve paid my dues for love…. Help me.”….

The silence that followed was quieter than silence. A peace was evident for the first time in months.

He believed, at last, that God was caring for those he lost. That God was caring for Him. that God could handle his honest anger, his honest emotions

And God can handle all our pent up emotions, feelings, denials. He is with us in our hurt and our pain.

And, although our questions may not be answered, we can come to know him as the one who always listens, always cares.

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Illness and Sin

The Meenister’s Log

A colleague who was chaplain to a Hospice for many years encountered a particular patient who was especially distressed.

She was wracking her brains to think what she had done “wrong” to become a cancer sufferer.

Apparently, some weeks ago, her Minister in his Sermon, stated that illness was the result of sin.

God help us – there are still idiots like that occupying pulpits.


My father’s cousin died of cancer some years ago at a comparatively young age.  The family had been faithful Church Members for many many years, and the Minister paid a pastoral visit.

The distraught widow asked “Why?”

And got the reply, “It was because of the kind of life he led”

What?   the ocassional pint and a game of dominoes with some of the old boys on a Friday evening in the local?  The odd flutter on the horses?

The Reverend gentleman was shown the door and the family never went back to what had been their home Church again.

Posted on Thu Feb 07 2002 03:53:19 GMT+0000 (GMT Standard Time)
Illness caused by sin says Vatican official
A SENIOR Vatican official has asserted that illness is the result of sin and that people have a natural desire to be “healthy and good-looking”.Presenting the Pope’s message for Lent, Archbishop Paul Cordes, the German head of the Vatican’s agency for humanitarian aid, maintained that there was scriptural authority for the idea that those who contract illnesses do so because they have sinned.Father Georges Cottier, the Pope’s chief theologian, immediately stepped in to reassure those who were ill that they were not in fact “paying for their sins”.

The Pope, in his message, had urged genetic scientists and other health experts not to succumb to the temptation of “tampering with the Tree of Life” under the illusion that advances in biotechnology had made man his own creator.

Monsignor Cordes, elaborating on the Pope’s remarks, went further and said that the root of much modern illness lay in sinful or immoral behaviour.

“Jesus heals sickness and banishes sin,” he said. “He therefore teaches us that there is a link between sin and illness. This does not happen in every individual case, but it is a fundamental law. The history of salvation shows us that illness is a consequence of sin.”

The theory was enshrined in Roman Catholic doctrine, he said. “Man’s desire to be healthy, good-looking and strong is justified because it anticipates our future salvation. One cannot deny that death, of which illness is an anticipation, has always been seen as a consequence of sin.”

He quoted the Gospel of St John, which describes Jesus curing a crippled man he found lying on a pallet by the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Jesus told the man, who had been crippled for 38 years: “Take up your bed and walk”. Finding him later in the temple, Jesus ordered the cured man to “go and sin no more, or something worse may happen to you”.

Father Cottier said that the original sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had “introduced sin and suffering into the human condition”. This was not the same as saying the sick were guilty and it was unacceptable to use passages from the Gospel in which Jesus “frees people from sin” to suggest otherwise.

Commenting on the altercation, La Repubblica said that the idea that those who were vigorous and good-looking were blessed while the ugly and the sick were damned was an ancient one that predated Christianity. La Stampa said that if illness really was the result of sin and crime, then “the great dictators and criminals of the world would all have been struck down”.

Father Bruno Moriconi, a leading theologian, said that illness was neither a blessing nor a curse, but simply a result of the malfunctioning of the human organism. “There is no point in looking to the Bible for an explanation.”

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