A Sermon by The Most Rev’d Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide

Over the past few weeks we have seen increasing international tensions over the Covid19 vaccine. I suppose that’s no surprise given that there has been tremendous effort to develop and produce the vaccine, and a great deal of hope has been placed in a vaccine solution. Countries around the world are very keen to get every dose they can.

Sadly, we have seen some countries trying to make sure they have enough and stopping the distribution of the vaccine to other nations who also need it.

This should not surprise us because the main story in our world seems to be fear. This affects nations and also individuals. We fear that we will miss out. We fear that we won’t have enough. There is a scarcity mentality. And so we stockpile everything we can to try to make ourselves feel secure and in control of our situation. We stockpile money and possessions and have overflowing pantries. We order way more vaccine than we need-just in case we don’t have enough. When the lockdown started this time last year, we even stockpiled toilet paper.

Fear is behind the narrative of scarcity. We want more because we think we need more because we think that will make us feel secure and peaceful. That means we mostly end up with too much. It also means that there is terrible inequality and injustice. Those who can get more, get more, and those who can’t miss out. All driven by fear. Fear of missing out. Fear of running short. Fear of not having enough. Fear of scarcity.

This situation has an ancient pedigree. The book Genesis, the book of beginnings in the Bible has the account of the first people, known as Adam and Eve, disobeying God because they didn’t trust that God had given them all they needed for a good life. They were afraid that God might be holding something really good back from them, and so they took matters into their own hands and we know how that story ended up. They sinned out of fear. They sinned out of a lack of trust in God’s good character and love.

Whatever we think of the history of the book of Genesis there is no doubt that in that writing human nature is described very accurately as is the inevitable result of human nature. The fear of the first people led to conflict and violence and alienation, and we see all seem to be infected with the same fear with the same consequences.

Today we come to recall Jesus. Jesus had a different approach. Jesus had a different way, a different basis for his life. He did not live his life in fear of any kind of scarcity.

Jesus had no fear because he knew perfect love. His relationship with the Father was so close and his knowledge of the character of God was so complete that he did not fear. He knew God’s love and he knew God’s presence so he lived his life not in fear at all. He trusted God and in God. He had peace and security because he knew God’s love.

That meant that instead of grasping at things, instead of trying to create his own security, his own sense of well-being as an antidote to fear, Jesus was able to spend himself for others. He gave away. He gave away his energy, his love, his care, his healing, his knowledge of God. Rather than grasping on to things and holding on to more he gave away because he found his security not in grasping and holding on but in God’s love. He resisted the story of scarcity and instead trusted in God’s love and the way God provides. He resisted the scarcity story and embraced God’s generosity and faithfulness.

Paul in the letter to the Philippians (2.6-8), says this of Jesus: “though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-even death on a cross”.

Rather than grasping at what we think might bring a good life: possessions, fame, reputation, opportunity, Jesus gave himself. Because he knew a different story. He knew the story of God’s love for the world. The story of Gods generosity towards the world. God’s faithfulness and provision for the world. Jesus knew the truth that he could trust in God for absolutely everything. That there was no need for fear. No need to try to make himself feel secure. No need to trust in anyone or anything ultimately but God. Jesus knew that life is to be found in giving away, in losing, rather than grasping and gaining.

As St Paul says, the ultimate giving away was seen on the cross-even death on a cross. Jesus offered himself in obedience for the salvation, in other words for the wholeness, the healing of all people and the whole world. He gave away his dignity. He gave away his life. Jesus demonstrated a different way. Not the way of fear but the way of trust in God. Trust in God who loves the world. Trust in God who provides all there is. Trust in God in whom there is real security.

What we see today in the cross of Christ, may well look like foolishness. It might look like a tragic waste. A folly. Even a lie. But as we understand the lifelessness of the story followed by the world, the story of scarcity and fear, and see just how life-giving Jesus was and is at every point in his life it makes us wonder whether Jesus in fact wasn’t foolish but very wise.

Out of love God provides for the world. God provides more than enough. There is more than enough food to feed the population of the world, the problem is the wealthy either hoard or waste it-often out fear. There is enough sunshine and air and water. There is enough, more than enough for all. We don’t have a scarcity we have plenty-because God loves the world.

Good Friday is not just about individual salvation or forgiveness of sins. It is about those but in Good Friday, Jesus’ offering of himself because he trusted God, shows a new way. A new story for the world. A way out of fear and the chaos that fear of shortage brings.

Jesus offering himself on the cross points us to a way of trusting God which means there is no need to fear. Jesus’ way of generous self-offering based on trusting God who generously provides is the healing answer to the failure of the first people back in Genesis. That human story which dominates us all. There is no need to hoard and try to find security in what we are able to grasp and hold. God in love provides all we need. There is no need to fear. This is a true kind of salvation. A true kind of setting free and making whole. A release from living in fear. A gift of living in peace which is a gift to individuals but the whole creation, since if we trust God instead of living in fear, we share what is given with others. We seek equality and justice for all.

Hearing Jesus’ story of trust. Taking on board Jesus’ offering himself for the world because he trusted God is a primary way of honouring his sacrifice for the world. We are called to follow Jesus in his offering of himself. We are called to trust in God who provides more than the world needs. We who accept the cross of Christ are called to live in his way-generously, gratefully, peacefully, trustingly. To live that way is counter to the story told in the world. But the worlds story doesn’t bring life, only fear and all its consequences.

In the cross of Christ we glory. In the cross of Christ we see love and trust which brings life to all. We see a new story. A life-giving story. May we share in that life, and share that life with others.