All we’re about as Christians harnesses energy. It harnesses the energy that presses creation forward. Let no one be deceived into thinking Christianity is a loss of energy, even if tasks in the life of the Church fall heavily on your shoulders!
As we heard in our readings from Genesis and Romans God who brought all that is out of nothing has the creation waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.
He brings us moment by moment in Christ the irrepressible power of the Holy Spirit. It is the same energy at work in the Eucharist that is at work bringing sun, rain and storm and pushing the grass and trees upward.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin Our Lord reflects in the Gospel I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
The same Lord Jesus Christ is our clue to understanding that energy that has brought not just the lilies but each of us here into being and would carry us forward from this day into a joyful eternity. He whose power rolled out creation acted powerfully upon the Cross to reconcile sinful humanity and is powerfully present with us this morning. He is both the power that bought all things into being and the one who gives power to all who believe in his name.
To know God in Jesus Christ is not something esoteric but something that touches the wellsprings of human life. You and I are here in this Church this morning, held together in our physical being by God.
God who brought all that is out of nothing brings us moment by moment, in Christ, the power of life. More than that he fills hearts open to him with his own life, the life and power of the Holy Spirit, through word and sacrament.
Our Church tower is fashioned as pointer to this truth: all of life comes from God, is sustained by God and would be directed by God to his praise and service.
I say ‘would be’ because the creation of a world apart from God has led to the necessity of faith for mortal beings to be one with him, to choose intimacy with him, and to overcome the consequences of that apartness from God in the evil consequences of human wrongdoing, made possible by that apartness of the creation from God.
We name the second person in the Godhead Jesus Christ because the world apart from God began to fall apart through human sin and only through the gift of his Son, revealed in taking nature of a Virgin in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection could it be brought together again.
The great Anglican theologian Austin Farrer has this summary of how creation links to redemption and the making holy of our lives: We believe in One God, One not only in the unity of his substance but in the unbroken wholeness of his action. All the work of God is one mighty doing from the beginning to the end, and can only be seen in its mind-convincing force when it is so taken. It is One God who calls being out of nothing, and Jesus from a virgin womb, and life from the dead; who revives our languid souls by penitence, and promises to sinful men redeemed by the vision of his face, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Celebration of Faith p62
I am hopeful for the Church because I know there’s a link between the supernaturally revealed truth of Jesus Christ and the truths of the world’s evolution established by science. Not just a link but a dynamic!
Just to illustrate, it is the Lord’s Day. Every Sunday we celebrate three dynamics. The first day of the week is a reminder of God’s creation on the primeval day. It is also the memorial of the new creation given on Easter Sunday. It is thirdly the memorial of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered the Church. This dynamic is encaptured in Victorian Bishop William Walsham How’s hymn for Sunday:
This day, at thy creating Word first o’er the earth the light was poured;
O Lord, this day upon us shine, and fill our hearts with light divine.
This day the Lord for sinners slain, in might victorious rose again:
O Jesu, may we raisèd be from death of sin to life in thee.
This day the Holy Spirit came with fiery tongues of cloven flame:
O Spirit, fill our hearts this day with grace to hear and grace to pray.
The truth behind Sunday is the same truth behind creation – the truth of a God who, in Farrer’s words calls being out of nothing...Jesus from a virgin womb, and life from the dead; who revives our languid souls.
A last thought on how we better lay hold on this truth.
Imagine yourself up a ladder replacing a light bulb. You are concentrating your attention on loosening the bulb and suddenly your mind switches to ponder how securely you’re placed on the ladder (no doubt if in Church your two named ladder holders will be down below you).
Your inner questioning ‘how securely am I placed’ undermines the operation until you pull yourself together and get on with the job.
Do you get the analogy? When we try to analyse our faith it feels shaky. When we attend to God it is convinced.
Believing in God is a practical matter beyond human analysis.
As Austin Farrer says elsewhere: God can convince us of God, nothing else and no one else can: attend the eucharist well, make a good communion, pray for the grace you need, and you will know that you are not dealing with empty air.
Let’s do just that - attend the eucharist well and make a good communion!