Mary’s Address for 19 February 2017

2nd before Lent Yr A 2017 Parish Eucharist with baptism

New beginnings (new service pattern)

Genesis 1, 2.1-3

Matt 6.25-end

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

In the beginning… So many new beginnings this week. For Nancy and Lillian today is the beginning of their new life in Christ. This afternoon we begin our new family service, families at 4 – when, as it happens, we will also be looking at the story of creation. We are celebrating today the beginning of the preparation sessions for our 2 confirmation groups – adults and young people and the adult group will be introduced later in the service so that we can pray for them as they set off on this new stage of their journey of faith.

And of course, this is the first Sunday of our new service pattern which brings with it new challenges to see our parish, to see ourselves, as a new community, a single group of Christians worshipping God in different places and styles but united in a way that we haven’t been before. This change challenges us, like all changes, whether welcome them or not.

And as I thought about these challenges, and read the very familiar words of Genesis 1 and 2 again, I noticed that they tell us a story not just of new beginning but also of change.  It turns out that this account of creation  isn’t a continuous process: in each new day God does something different and surprising: each day brings forth its own new beauties and could seem to be complete in itself. Yes, God has a plan: a plan we know so well that we can hardly imagine God stopping before it’s complete. Yet if, impossibly, we had been watching as the sun went down on the 4th day, as the previously unimaginable trees and the newly minted green grasses rustled, and the flowers gradually lost their colours in the new moonlight, if we had been watching, could we have imagined anything better, anything more or more beautiful than these things. But look again: by the evening of the 5th day those new trees were inhabited by… birds – wings, feathers, beaks – animals roamed the forests and plains – fur, scales, tails of every size and shape and swishiness- and the seas teemed with fish, more scales and tails and now a new thing – fins…. …. and even then God had more in mind…. for on the 6th day God created humankind in his image,

   in the image of God he created them;

   male and female he created them.

Who could have imagined all of this? Only God. All the intelligence and imagination God has given us, all the stewardship and dominion and power, can never in any way make us equal to God, able to second guess God, able to live in our own strength without God to sustain us in every change or development or new beginning throughout our lives, welcome or not.

For all our love of being in control, for all the strategies and technologies and approaches we adopt to keep us in control, when it comes to the really important things in our lives, the wind of God can sweep over us just as it swept over the waters on the first day – and the world will change around us, and we will be changed.

We will be remembering that wind in a few minutes as we pray over the water of baptism… and remembering too the way God works to save his people as we think about the children of Israel escaping from Egypt when the waters of the Red Sea were parted or them – passing, impossibly, through the midst of the sea from death and slavery to life and freedom….  but life and freedom that would include every imaginable joy and sorrow

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. 

New beginnings… changes… endings too. Sometimes we welcome and rejoice in them, sometimes we don’t – accepting them grudgingly – trying to go back (not talking about the referendum, honestly….).

Chuks asked last Sunday in his last sermon here, “What really matters?”

Our two ordinands are learning theological reflection – learning to ask in every situation “Where is God in this?” These are questions we should all be asking ourselves, along with a third – what then should we do, how then should we live in the light of eternity?

And that brings us to Jesus’ words in the gospel. His answer to what really matters begins like this.

I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Your heavenly father, he goes on, knows what you need – the miracles of creation are more than enough proof of this. Where is God in this? He is everywhere, sustaining everything with his word, his spirit, his love…

And then the answer to our other question -what shall we do?

strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

What really matters? That we seek and work for the kingdom of God….

What does that mean?  Jesus answered that question too, in words and by his example. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.”

Surely this is what we were created for, by a God whose love and power we can’t fathom, although we see evidence of them every moment of every day in our own life and the life of the world around us….

Surely we were created to love and serve him in one another – remembering that we are all made in his image, every one of us. and seeking to recognise that likeness in everyone we might, and to ask in every situation, where is God at work in this, and how can I join in with that work?

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. 


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