Sunday, 25 September 2011

God Loves All Sorts

Another church near us has just done an OAPs Holiday At Home. This afternoon they are having a closing service, and I’ve been asked to give a brief talk on the theme above.  Which is fun, because the idea of Liquorice Allsorts came from round here! My talk is not particularly original [In fact I vividly remember hearing Dr Raymond Brown giving a similar one in Bishops Stortford in 1961!]

Here are my notes…

boxLet’s begin with the history of the allsort- Allsorts were created by happy accident. The story goes that in 1899 Bassetts – a confectionery company in Sheffield, sent one of the firm’s salesmen, a certain Charlie Thompson, here to Leicester, to demonstrate his liquorice sweets. He accidentally knocked his boxes of samples onto the floor in front of a buyer.

The buyer, seeing the colourful mixture of sweets asked Bassetts to produce just such an assortment for him to sell. Bassetts asked Charlie to name the sweets and the rest, as they say, is history.

bertieThirty years later, in 1929, they created “Bertie Bassett” – a character made up of an assortment of the sweets.

Our theme this afternoon  is ‘God loves all sorts’ – however I don’t think that means that the Almighty always has a dish of liquorice sweets beside him.

But who knows what foods will be at the Bridal Feast of the Lamb? After all, Isaac Watts wrote in one of his hymns, [Marching To Zion'] about ‘the hill of Zion yielding a hundred sacred sweets’

No – I think our theme today has been chosen to remind us that whatever we are like, whoever we are, God loves us.

selectionHave you looked at these sweets lately? Every single one of them has liquorice in it somewhere. Romans 3v23 tells us that “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards” – and every person who has ever walked this earth- apart from our Lord Jesus, has done wrong. We all have the marks of sin in our lives.

plainSome people are like the sweet that is all liquorice, it is really hard to find any sweetness in them.

They don’t really care about the sharp taste they leave behind.

selection4Others appear outwardly to be ‘a bad lot’ – but inside they want to put things right. Yes, maybe they have gone spectacularly, publicly wrong and made awful mistakes – but in their heart they have sought forgiveness.

layersMost people are like the ‘sandwich’ variety – some sweet layers with liquorice in between – good sometimes, and bad at other times.

My favourite allsort as a child was the round pink coconut one – sweet and chewy and pretty to look at – but selection5even that had a liquorice core. Even the prettiest, sweetest people have sinned – it may not be too obvious to the outsider, but God, who sees our hearts, knows the pride, the greed, the bad thoughts that are deep inside us.

Whichever allsort you select, you can be sure that it will have some liquorice in it – and whichever person you think of, you can be sure that somewhere in their life there is something wrong, the Bible shorthand word is sin, which separates us from a perfectly good and holy God. The Bible tells us that because God is perfectly good, he cannot bear sin – so what does that mean if we are sinners?


Maybe as you look back on your life, you are thinking “but I’ve been pretty good – I have never murdered anyone, or robbed a bank, or rioted and thrown bricks through windows” but you know that you have had selfish thoughts, said unkind words, been jealous or greedy – you have fallen short of God’s standards. Or perhaps you already acknowledge the times you have done wrong. The good news of the Gospel is that you can know forgiveness and peace and joy and abundant eternal life because God truly loves allsorts, in John’s Gospel it says [approximately!]  “For God so loved the allsorts in the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

My prayer is that as you enjoy your tea and sweets this afternoon, you too will know that God loves you, whatever ‘allsort’ you are!


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