Monday, 21 May 2012

Isaiah 6:1-8 V2

Children’s address: Today we mark the golden jubilee of our Queen Now I wonder if any of you know what jubilee means? Biblically it comes from Leviticus 25. It was a day set aside by the Lord. One to be filled with trumpet and celebration. A time when the nation of Israel would declare Liberty throughout the land and a day of family reunion. The Golden jubilee is slight different. It marks the queens 50th year upon the throne of Britain Today I wish to talk about celebrating the majesty of a different monarch the king of kings of Israel We have just heard about Isaiah meeting with God. The King of all creation and the God of the Jews Jehovah. As the reading said, when Isaiah saw God he was upon a golden throne with angels all around him signing his praise. So what was it like for Isaiah standing before God – well. Now none of you are “wise” enough to remember the first jubilee but I am sure some of the wiser member of the congregation does. So what does the congregation remember of the queen or the jubilee? Think of all those images, the soldiers in uniform, the golden carriages and thrones and all the servant buzzing around the queen. I wonder what you would be like if you had to speak with the queen and receive an important task? Now I wonder what it would be like to stand before the King of Kings. I wonder what you would like if you were stood before God and receive an important task? Isaiah was clearly scared, scared because he felt unworthy, unclean, unable to stand before the King of King. But God had not called Isaiah to scare or judge him God had called Isaiah to carry Gods message to Israel This message was to bring God’s people closer to God Because God loved us then and love us know and want to join with us. Unlike are queen he cannot simply descend from heaven surrounded by angels So he called people to him (we call these people prophets) Despite all the grandness and wonder of Gods Kingdom But still despite people like Isaiah God people refused to hear him So God decided to do something stage I am not sure I would give up golden thrones and angelic servants would you? He gave up his golden thrones and his angels and took mortal flesh He did this because he loved his creation more then all his golden thrones and all the angelic choirs So that though we may sometimes feel like Isaiah approaching or praying to God We should remember that he loved us so much he gave up all of those wonderful things for us

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The crucified trinity

I am fairly sure most of the people gathered have heard and enjoy this familiar promise of God. Sorry did I just say familiar promise, I apologies; I meant to say this wonderful, saving, life affirming, cornerstone of my faith and the faith I share and we are blessed to share with billion but what does this mean, how did the death of Christ save man from the cost of sin? Indeed what does being the son of God mean? Well I don’t know – there you are an honest answer So what am I doing here? I am responding to a God who so loved his creation that he took on human formed and died so it may live Before I go on I know others don’t share this view of God or of the trinity And you know that is okay To me the trinity can be best understood on the cross It is the end of a story that starts with creation and ends on the cross Often this seen as the story of sin (Adam brought sin into the world and Jesus atoned for this) But from my view of the God who died on the cross it is a story of God’s love In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He then created human kind, who disobeyed him God then exiled man from his presence So ensued the Old Testament – the history of Gods attempts to reconcile with his elusive creation At some point in this story God realised that prophets and visions were all well and good But he was going to have to intercede physically Now God faced a choice, he could rain down his vengeance on his creation Until it buckled under and became subservient to his will Or he could take the narrow and longer path He in the words of Wesley Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race He then started his work Spreading his word and his mercy throughout the land and started his slow walk to the cross All part of his divine plan Upon the cross God endured even death in order to become part of our lives He gave up his life in order to pay the cost of sin and redeem man kind Even after paying this enormous cost, even after his own creation rejected him God came again (on Pentecost) and this time he never left our mortal world. So when I look upon the cross I do not just see Jesus hanging there But Yahway having taken off his crown to hang and suffer there.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Isaiah 6:1-10

Children’s address: Today we mark the golden jubilee of our monarch. Now I wonder if any of you know what jubilee means? Biblically it comes from Leviticus 25. It was a day set aside by the Lord. One to be filled with trumpet and celebration. A time when the nation of Israel would declare Liberty throughout the land and a day of family reunion. The Godlen jubilee is slight different. It marks her majesties 50th year upon the throne of Britain So today I wish to talk about celebrating the majesty of a different monarch the king of kings of Israel We have just heard about Isaiah meeting with God. The King of all creation and the God of the Jews Jehovah. As the reading said, when Isaiah saw God he was upon a golden throne with angels all around him signing his praise. Think of all the colour and ceremony surrounding the monarch of Britain. Times it by a million and you may get close to the wonderment surrounding God Before whom poor Isaiah stood alone Isaiah was clearly scared, scared because he felt unworthy, unclean, unable to stand before the King of King. Indeed until being cleansed and forgiven of his sins. Isaiah was in a terrible panic and fear one a million time worse than if we stood before our queen. But God had call Isaiah for a purpose, not merely to scare him or impress him and this purpose was almost as terrifying as this vision of God It was not to bring Israel closer to God but to Make the heart of this people hard, make their ears dull and close their eyes. # Do you think this is a loving or caring God? Or a scary and fearsome God? Well despite his might and his anger and despite the people of Israel’s continual disobedience he still wanted to commune with them. So we turn are thoughts to today. Today is Trinity Sunday a difficult and complex day A day when we rejoice in the glory of majestic God, served by all the angles in heaven Today we also give thanks for Jesus, for the fact that the majestic God took human form and suffered for us. We also give then that the majestic god has remained with us as the holy spirit. Whilst we may find the majestic God fear inspiring and off putting and hard to approach. We celebrate gladly that he sent men and his own self to soften the hearts of men. We today should be gladful that we can share in his glory and will be one day join with his ageless glory Made us clean by his son, kept us clean in his holy spirit So we can stand peaceful in his majestic glory as Isaiah did before us

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Unfathomable creation

In this piece I seek to explore why God took mortal form and why humanity and God still seem unable to commute fully. There are three main views on why God took human / mortal form. The first is God became human to interweave his reality / himself with our reality; In short he wanted to become present in our world. The second more implicit reason is that God took human form to correct man’s understanding of his law. The third reason is that God became mortal in order to pay the debt of sin with sinless blood and by doing so enable man to reconcile with God. It is of course interesting to note hear that the full reconciliation with God takes place after man and Gods death (they are reconciled in heaven as immortals) this even after God became mortal. As I wish to suggest another reason for God taking on mortal form, I will look at the three main explanation of this miracle of miracles. If we look at the first reasons; god was hardly absent in the Old Testament, he does at least intervene in human affairs, though sometimes in rather unsavoury ways. I note that after Christ God left the holy spirit but God could have done this without partaking of human form, no this reason says nothing, it is a by-product not a reason. If we then look at the second reason: God could have continued to alter the laws via prophets and sacred interventions (indeed it seems to correct the law once then end this task as the era of the prophets ended some time ago) is a little strange if this were God’s aim. Regardless of the logical inconsistency God could have reinforced the law without becoming mortal, indeed if this were his aim a harder touch with humanity may have done more than the gospel of Christ. Now let us look at the last issue or as I call it the John 3:16 theory. This explanation is the most popular by far but it is wholly illogical or at least inconsistent with an all-powerful God. If we accept God as all powerful he could easily forgive sin, indeed in an odd way God created sin as it was he who laid out right and wrong. Now I do not seek to undermine the heart of this view, that God became mortal in the form of Christ Jesus and died for us but I do not think it was solely for the forgiveness of sin I think God did this in order to better reconcile with us both via the forgiveness of sin and via a better understanding of man. So why would God have to become mortal in order to better understand man? Well why would you go into a community you knew? Why do anthropologist travel thousands of miles, forsaking modern luxury, to live among indigenous communities they already know about? Well the answer is simple in order to increase their understanding of them. If we accept that, then it is not a giant leap to see that though you can know everything about something, you will not be able to understand it. I the think it is not such a leap to argue that God knows everything about us but sometimes struggles to understand us. What God does not understand us! Heretic, blasphemer! Undermining God, tiny little human desperately trying to analysis God with your inadequate mind and failing. Well probably so but answer me this, why did God become mortal? I have already dealt with the dogma (none of which is biblically based but is not heresy because it is antique) so why? I happen to think God does not mind when we attempt to better understand him and his will (indeed I think it is an act of adoration) and it only harmful when we think we know the totality of God, when in short we think we know it all. So what does the unfathomable creation mean? Well the outline of the idea is fairly basic. God made man and there is nothing he does not know about his creation. God could not understand his creation and in order to increase his knowledge and also to become present in the mortal world and forgive sin he chose to become human. Not because it was necessary, not because he had to but because he wanted to. Take a moment here, what I am proposing is God died for our sins not because that was the only way to pay the price of sin but because he wanted to fully understand man (and death is a part of man) and pay the price of sin and who better than the author of sin (the deity of the law) to bear that cost. So why did an all knowing deity have to come into human form in order to understand his creation? Well, I can’t help but recall Wittgenstein story about talking to a Lion. Wittgenstein proposes that even if we could talk (or know) with a lion, we would still not be unable to understand the lion. This is due to the vast differences in world view, points of reference and even understanding of meaning betwixt us and said Lion. Well think about the trouble God has in understating us. Now we must be careful here, God can understand us when we speak (though in a different way to what humans think of understanding) and I believe he can understand that facts of humanity (our needs, our wants) but until he became human he could not understand our actions or our almost purposeful disobedience. It is notable that since God intersession with humanity he is far less frustrated due in my view to his increased understanding but still in the same was as we cannot comprehend God, God cannot understand us. So why even after God became flesh and lived our mortal lives does there still exist a debt of understanding? It would be easy to blame it on sin and I am not opposed to the easy answer. It must be hard for a deity without sin to understand the “will to sin” but this is not the end of the story for me. I think the understanding deficit is partly due to the need for humans to hide their true selves and act often in opposition to this true self which confuses God. God only has a true self, he does not require the mask which humanity adorns itself, even in the person of mortal Jesus God did not experience either sin or self-deception (arts which humanity are experts in) . So once we think that God expect us to act in the true self that we know we can see how he could fail to full understand us or our needs. The other explanation I hinted at earlier though God has lived (which is a bad choice of words) the immortal and mortal life we have lived only the mortal life, so though God has lived as Man and lion, we have only lived like men. It seems fairly obvious that full communion with God is only possible once we die and become immortal and this share fully in the world of God. Of course it is also helped that once free from the world of man; man will only have a true self as I have said but once we have left the mortal world God will be able to fully understand us and maybe we him.

Friday, 4 May 2012

BNP + Jesus

Raceless church I have recently been discussing the church reaction toward those who hold racist or near racist views (I count anti-Islamic sentiment in this second group). This topic is of epically interest to me as the Methodist bars BMP members from entering into the community of the church . Now whist I oppose this position, not being allowed to enter into membership is not the same as refusal of entry or communion. So the first question we have is what does the gospel teach us about race and immigration; Now I could list endless bible quote but I have restricted myself to Matthew 2:13, Mark 3:35. So let us firstly look at Matthew 2:13 in which Jesus is forced to flee him homeland to seek refuge in a foreign land. This is a sadly overlooked part of the Jesus story, not only was Jesus born into the world of the poor but also the world of the exile / the immigrant. It would be wonderful to explore the idea of an immigrant or exiled God but it is enough here to not that the Christian God was an exiled God and sought safety as an immigrant. The second important concept is the concept of the eternal family, found in Mark 3:35 and in many places thought the new testament. This remains me of Derrida’s unlimited hospitality but an even more challenging and difficult concept to live by. Firstly with reference to this piece I would like you to note that it says “whoever believes in god is your brother”. A definition which would include make Muslim’s are brothers a concept I have no issue with, it also make the thief and the murder our brother in faith, again a concept I take very little issue with. There are multiple inclusive parts of the story of Jesus and it does seem to me that hatred or the rejection of someone ever can be reconciled to a life following Jesus but it seems even clearer that to do so on the basis of race or their immigration status is to reject physically God and to reject spiritually his will. I still reject that anything can render us irreconcilable with God but how can we reconcile whilst we reject both God and his will.