Sermon 7 February 2021


Psalm 104: 21 to end Proverbs 8:21 to end  John 1:1-14 Colossians 1:15-20 Sunday 7th February 2021.Sermon Revd Tudor V Roberts.

 

In psalm 104 and vs 24-31 the psalmist writes:

(Psalm 104:24-31 King James Version)

24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

Just recently with floods, mud and rain, with  mid-January stories of doom and awful Covid 19  death tolls, it’s been hard to rejoice in creation as we were able to do so in the previous two lockdowns. But we are physical, mental, spiritual creatures wired to respond to the world around us.

Creating the world gave God joy ! Proverbs 8:27-30 says.

Proverbs 8:27-30

English Standard Version

27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established[a] the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30     then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his[b] delight,
    rejoicing before him always,

I believe that joy and delight were sown into the world, into the very fabric of creation from day one and if we watch and listen then we can catch a sense of this.

Children are particularly adept at this, at sensing the magic and wonder sown into creation. In  a new book published this month “How to pray a guide for everyone” by the Jesuit Priest James Martin SJ, he writes remembering a childhood walk from home to school a journey of about one mile, which he would walk or cycle every day from age four (that was normal in his day  when he walked to and from School in suburban Philadelphia USA).

He recalls riding his bike through suburban back yards and meadows one particular day amidst snapdragons, black eyed daisies, crickets, and grasshoppers clicking in the grass and he stopped his bicycle:

“To right myself I set myself down. Then I looked around. All around was so much life, the sights and sounds, the smells and suddenly I had a visceral urge not only to be a part of it, but also to know it and somehow possess it.I felt loved, held, understood The desire for everything, somehow for full incorporation into the universe, and a desire to understand what I was doing on the earth filled me, I was still a boy, I had not left myself- but I know something had happened: it was as if my heart stopped and I was given a conscious inkling in the depths of my desire for what? I wasn’t sure.”

Many people have such encounters .

I think that in all our readings today the writers are expressing the role of the Divine in making the world so full of wonder and the place of the Logos, the word and Christ as the creator and at the very centre of that world.

In John 1:9 the apostle wrote “The light that gives light was everyone was coming into the world he was in the world and though the world was made through him the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his one but his own did not receive him”.

Most of us would not know the difference between a real Ming dynasty vase and a fake (apologies to those that would) and somehow, very sadly, most of the Jewish people in Galilee and Judea did not recognise the real thing. They did not recognise that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Son of the Living God. We know that though thousands were healed by Jesus of Nazareth nevertheless his very own people in the end rejected him and then through the help of the Roman government they had him crucified on the cross.(Praise God so many are now turning to him. Read Romans 9)

Yet says John, to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name he gave them the right to be called children of God.

The writers of Psalm 104 and Proverbs 8, and John 1:1-14 and Colossians 1:15 – 20 want you and I to have the experience that those who believed in Jesus had in Israel and Asia Minor. So, reader of these words you and I are given the opportunity to really strengthen, thorough these 4 books; Psalms Proverbs John and Colossians: our belief and understanding of Jesus being God’s son, visible on earth, and that Jesus was the one who created  the world.

So often we have a default way of separating the spiritual  from the physical, but the Bible does not do that: Jesus prays, he heals, he delivers people of malevolent spirits that bind them, he teaches the Kingdom of God, he calls disciples, he serves,  he dies for you and me and he also happens to be the creator of the earth. Both are good, unlike the Gnostics who called the earth malevolent, God calls the earth good. In holy Communion we bring forth bread and wine good fruits of the earth and we thank God. And as the Alpha course shows knowing God is not rocket science, knowing God is not the preserve of those like the Gnostics in Colossae who thought only those who cracked some mystery concept could go on to understand God.

Psalm 104 and Proverbs 8 and John 1 and Colossians 1 all teach that the whole earth is suffused with the Glory of God, and  that Glory was seen in Jesus who took flesh  as John says in John 1:14 he pitched his tents amongst us. He dwelt with us and through him all who believed in him can know him and as Colossians 1 teaches he has reconciled us to God through the Cross. And yet he is the one who is in all and through whom all things on earth were created.

Paul wanted the Church in Colossae to know that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation the first born from the dead and therefore the firstborn of the New Testament new Creation in which we still live, even though Covid 19 has masked that truth, it is true. Jesus is head over the Church and even if the Times and the Spectator magazine have declared the Church of England dead and gone, the last I heard our Church is alive! people meet to study the Bible, to discover faith through Alpha, we worship albeit online because we believe Jesus as Colossians says is supreme over all in Colossians 1:15 to 20 time and again St Paul uses the word All Christ is in all things were create by him he is before all things. As Christians we must widen our understanding of Jesus

Jesus did not appear at Christmas and disappear at Ascension. He  has always been apart from a brief interlude on earth during the incarnation, at the Fathers side with the Holy Spirit, and he is supreme head of the Church, Sovereign over the earth

Read Colossians 1:15 to 20 again slowly.

Colossians 1:15-20

New International Version

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

The very One executed in humiliating nastiness on the cross, in the horror of Golgotha is in fact the highest in the Universe, he is greater than the Emperor greater than the Church, and we: little you and me, have been reconciled through his blood. Next time you are on a walk, next time you watch Planet earth or Blue Planet or Winter watch, say to yourself My Jesus did all that, plus he died for me and he is alive and will return. He is all in all Son of God Saviour rescuer my Lord.

Amen.

 

C. Tudor V Roberts 17.1.21

 

Almighty God,

you have created the heavens and the earth

and made us in your own image:

teach us to discern your hand in all your works

and your likeness in all your children;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,

now and for ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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