Sermon for Trinity 2 Sunday 17 June 2012
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We share a faith based on hope. And that hope is for our transformation, that through God, through our being Christ-centred people, we can be changed from glory into glory. For we are not only looking to selfishly perceive the mystery of God, to work it out ourselves, but in some measure, we humbly accept, that through God’s grace, we share in the outworking of his mysterious purpose; we are commissioned to contribute to the manifestation of his love and justice to our generation.
It is no surprise that we can often fail to contribute to God’s kingdom as well as we might hope. If you are anything like me, or if I am anything like you, not only do we find ourselves grasping at straws in an attempt to do the right thing, but sometimes, deep in our hearts we more often seek our own glory, that we might become well loved, even worshipped, rather than doing His will, well enough. Often our own shadows are being cast upon the altar, and upon God, and in turn, we hinder that light which is so essential for us to grow.
As Meister Eckhart writes, “All creatures are by nature endeavouring to be like God. The heavens would not revolve unless they followed on the track of God or of his likeness. If God were not in all things, nature would stop dead, not working and not wanting.” Yet, naturally within us, there is something “wanting” and restless, compelling us to come to God, even if we now and again become caught up in our selfish desires.
By being here at least, we recognise that we want to be a Christian people that we want to be more fully part of God’s kingdom, where things, people and ideals, act out the higher purpose of love for one another.
Our Texts this morning remind us that God is deeply rooted in his creation, maybe mysteriously, but he is rooted here in our midst. And by being here, we learn two things, first, that we take shelter and comfort in God, and not vice versa. And secondly that God, though mysteriously working, is, even in the unseen depths of his creation, purposeful and active.
The image given to us from the Prophet Ezekiel points us not towards the “the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” as we hear on other occasions from the Prophet Isaiah, for that would be to talk about Israel, and about our witness of God. But Ezekiel poetically perceives God’s promise to plant in the midst of his people, himself and his kingdom. Ezekiel’s Cedar stands for the restoration of the Davidic Monarchy from exile and from which line the Messiah was to be born. The beasts and the birds represent the nations of the earth, who are to imagine themselves taking refuge under the branches of the most high. And the restoration is not of the status quo, but the kingdom of Christ. And we, God help us, the Church surround that very planting of the Lord. We surround the purposes of God’s Kingdom and are to be active in encouraging one and other in reflecting God’s love and being part of his purpose. It is not like we when we were children, experimenting and growing watercress on the windowsill, looking each day for growth. For we are to be part of that growth, we are as it were, are grafted, through our baptism into the purpose of God’s will.
Though, take some comfort, for we are all a work in progress; for in one moment, we are at once, already in the church yet, we are also on the way to enter it. As with the kingdom, we are members but we are also ever more becoming active in reflecting God’s glory, but our membership of the family of God asks of us, more than we ever think we can get away with doing.
The Kingdom which is perceived in great extremes in Mark’s Gospel is not something out of nothing. It is something planted and deeply sown in the depths of God, which has and is coming to fruition within his creation and for his creation.
It is that seed which is perhaps deeply planted in each of us, which with God’s help, if that is what we desire and ask, can also come to fruition and to life in us more fully, if we allow it. The Kingdom of God is surprising and unlike anything else; like Jesus himself, it is hoped for, but completely unexpected; wanted, but fulfils something completely and radically different. Infact, I think I believe more and more, that if we are to be part of God’s kingdom, to be his people, we are called to at least make an effort to be radically different, and not to give in to ourselves, where decay and rot sets in and diminish us.
For deep within us, when we say silently, even privately, “yes” to God, before we can ever imagine, the Kingdom of God will begin to produce in us, through its own internal power fruit that is undeniably good. We just have to pay the kingdom some attention. We have to raise our eyes and look to God, receive him, and not only believe, but work at, and practice being Christians.
Whether we sleep or wake, the parable teaches that God goes on with his work. But when we wake from our slumber, we are to have a purpose and hope at least that we can and will contribute to the kingdom of God, alive and powerfully active in our generation. So the task ahead is to privately and together reflect and articulate the good will of God in this place. Amen.
Sermon preached by Fr John Pritchard