A sermon for Epiphany – 1st Draft

Not the finished product, but its a start.


Some of you – if you have a good memory – will remember this word – Ubuntu.

It can in part of a story I told about some children in Africa which I told last July, There was an anthropologist who was living and studying the tribe, their customs and behaviours, and as he was leaving he piled up all the sweets and goodies he had left and told the children they would have a race and the winner would get all the goodies, However, instead of all the children racing to the sweets, they all joined hands and went together, and shared out the goodies at the end.

The anthropologist was surprised and asked them why they all went together, when one could have had it all for themselves?

A girl replied, Ubuntu – how can one of us be happy when they others are sad?

How can one of us be happy when the others are sad?

Ubuntu us a term for that humanness, that caring, sharing part of our nature who wants to be in harmony with each other.

And it is a term I’ve been thinking about particularly over these first few days of the New Year.

We all start the New Year with the best intentions. Many make resolutions in the hope that we can make this new year better, fitter, richer, happier. Bit this year feels different from other New Years.

Living and being in such close communities, I don’t think a single one of us can feel unaffected by some of the things that have happened in this area of over these few short days.

Whether it is the loss of young life in a car crash, the effects of the storms what have made so many flee their homes and causing such destruction, the loss of the life washed up on Black Rock Sands, or those others who have lost jobs, and homes and businesses over this season. In community – when one is affected, we are all affected.

Ubuntu – how can one be happy when the others are sad?

For so many in our community, old and young alike – it will be hard for them to see the road ahead with any clarity or where to go next.

Where do you turn to when you feel lost and without direction?


The Wise Men turned to the scriptures, for their answer, and the stars for their direction.

We don’t know much about the Magi, thse wise men, the three kings from the orient.

There may have been more than three, we don’t know exactly where exactly where they came from, or when exactly they visited Jesus.

But, in our case, I don’t think the details are important.

What is important is that they made that journey.

They saw the signs, left their familiar surroundings, to a place of uncertainty, and discovered something new and wonderful.

What they found literally changed the direction of their lives.

St Matthew puts it: “They returned home by another way”, The old way, the familiar path no longer worked, they needed a different path, a different way of going forward.

Epiphany is about discovering.

The star the sign they followed to find what they were searching for. The source of salvation.

Our readings are full of references to light.

“Rise up in splendour, Jerusalem” Isaiah cries out, “Your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.”

There, in those verses, is a sense of being saved, of relief, of deliverance and of hope.

The excitement of the magi comes through in our scriptures, and also I think a sense of relief. We are told: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star”.

For us today, this story is about making the journey – changing direction, going into the unknown, and finding something, or someone to rejoice about.

It’s about finding those signs which will lead us to what we are looking for. Finding them, trusting them and following them.

It’s about what happens to those who are searching and those who encounter Christ.

And whether we realise it or not, its about a kind of conversion.

          It’s about finding another way of walking the journey of life. A way that has been transformed by a sign, by a star, by a light, by Jesus Himself.

Next week we celebrate the baptism of Christ, and swiftly following that we will slip into Ordinary time, the season of Christmas a memory.

But before it does we are asked to do something first.

The season ask us to begin a journey.

To find a sign.

To follow the light.

And then like the wise men, to bring what we have, our gifts and share them – with God and with each other.

As we share in what our community is going through, we can bring our gifts and the spirit of Ubuntu with us.

It may be as simple as a smile to someone you meet in Fox’s or London House.

It might be a tissue – or a panad.

It might be a prayer and a lit candle.

It might be a helping hand with cleaning or repairs –

We are all called to journey personally with God and as a community, and to do that there are certain things we must do.

If you have not made a resolution yet, it is not too late, especially when there is so much need within our community. Use your gift, follow the sign and do what you can for yourself, or community, and the Lord who can to bring us light and salvation.




Ubuntu – Who is my neighbour? Sermon 14th July 2013

The story of the Good Samaritan I imagine is very well known to most of us. It’s probably one of the first stories we learn as children and one that we grow up with, we’re familiar to it, and we know what’s going to happen…

Our reading from the gospel today starts and ends with a question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’

‘Who is my neighbour?’

And we know the answer; the story for us has lost the shock factor that it would have had back when Jesus was telling it. This story really shook those who were listening because the hero of the story was not who they were expecting.

Jesus’ story had a twist, because the hero was not one of their own, the hero was not someone who was seen as good and honest. The hero was a Samaritan, a people who were separated from the main stream and looked down upon, they were the lowest, unclean and it was believed that no good could come from them. They were despised and written off.

We might question why Jesus would even mention the Samaritans when there was a good chance that his audience would just stop listening to him, why risk turning these people away?

Because they needed shaking up, Jesus needed to waken them up

Who is my neighbour?

These people would not even help one of their own in need. How could they just walk away from those who are suffering, and half dead, and let the stranger and the outsider, and even their enemies take care of them???

This is a question for us, ‘Who is my neighbour?’

Today we’re reminded of the law, reaching back from the Old Testament, and stretching into our lives today, we’re reminded ‘To love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.’

‘Who is my neighbour?’

When I started thinking about what I was going to talk about this morning, I picture came into my head that I’d seen on the internet a few weeks back. It was an image of a group of African children surrounded by the green forest, all sitting in a circle with their legs stretched out in front of them. I remember first seeing this picture and how simple, but how beautiful it was, and then I remembered the story that went along with it.

An anthropologist had been studying an African tribe to learn about their culture, he’d finished his study but had some time to kill while waiting for his lift to the airport.

He’d been surrounded by the people of this tribe for weeks, and especially the children, so he thought he’d play a game with them to help pass the time.

He’d brought lots of sweets with him to the village, and had a lot left over, so he put everything in a basket with a ribbon attached and put the basket under a tree. Then he called all the kids together.

He drew a line on the floor, and told them to wait for his signal. When he shouted “GO!” they were all to run and the first one to reach the basket would win everything inside.

He shouted “GO!”, but instead of all running, they joined hands, and ran together as a group towards the basket. When they got there they shared the sweets out equally and happily ate what they had.

After the weeks of study the anthropologist thought he knew everything there was to know about the tribe, but this behaviour surprised him, and so he asked them why they has all gone together especially when one of them could have had all the sweets to themselves.

A young girl replied “Ubuntu! (oo-boon-too) how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?

Ubuntu is a term for humaneness, for caring, sharing and being in harmony with others and all of creation.

Ubuntu means, “I am because we are” and it’s the essence of living together as a community. I am, because we are. How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?

Who is my neighbour?

The parable of the good Samaritan allows us to think about who our neighbour is, but it also leads us to question what type of community that God has called us to be, and the type of society we want to live in?

And this, I think, brings us back to the law, ‘To love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.’’

What type of community do we want here in Llanbedr, Dyffryn and Talybont? Do we want one where we divide and separate? When we leave those in need for others to care for? Or do we take the spirit of Ubuntu, and follow the will of God for us to love.

“I am because we are”

When others are happy, we will be happy.

So let us be that loving neighbour to one another.

Let us help those in need and share the happiness of life with one another.

Let us make a difference in this world that tends to be indifferent.