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    Jun 11, 2017

    Trinity Sunday

    Trinity Sunday

    Speaker: The Rev. Becky Crites

    Series: Sermons

    Category: Journey

    Like most of the book of Genesis, the Noah story takes our questions about God and the world in which we live very seriously. This is not a cute little story of ark and animals. These are not stories of cartoon biblical heroes akin to super heroes of our time. These are stories which have been handed down, inspired as well as shaped, to present God to each generation bringing us into that great conversation between God and God’s people. Being made in God’s image connects us with God and calls us into God’s work in the world. It means we are not perfect but good. We have boundaries and when we forget God’s ways that help us heal and renew, we give chaos a stronger foothold in our life.
    Recently my granddaughter learned the story of Noah in preschool. She was soon filled with all those questions parents struggle to answer about scripture: if God was good, why did he drown all but a few people, even little children? She missed the promise of the rainbow and instead struggled to take in God’s angry response.
     
    Like most of the book of Genesis, the Noah story takes our questions about God and the world in which we live very seriously. This is not a cute little story of ark and animals. These are not stories of cartoon biblical heroes akin to super heroes of our time.
     
    These are stories which have been handed down, inspired as well as shaped, to present God to each generation bringing us into that great conversation between God and God’s people.
     
    These are stories of that in between time, the time between one creation and the next. And in this time of human story evil is present and part of God’s created world.
     
    At times it feels as if evil has the upper hand. Although God’s created world brought order to chaos but didn’t end it, only contained it. God knew that a creation formed in love must also have freedom.
     
    There is structure to this universe that God created, a structure that necessitates a freedom to shape life. Sometimes that brings natural disasters, sometimes chaos seeps over the edges by way of human sinfulness.
     
    We have this sacred story to shape our life view. Whatever new discoveries come into the world and challenge older truths, these stories give us a firmness of footing to walk on. The biblical truths are a grand narrative to shape our hearts and minds to this:
    This world belongs to God, was called into being by God, was formed and shaped to receive God’s breathe of life. This is a world that God intended and blessed to be good and filled with abundance and goodness. And there will come a time of a new heaven and a new earth, when all the sea monsters and evil powers will cease to be. There will come a time…
     
    Ever great story has a beginning and an end. From Genesis to the Revelation to John, ours is a story that reveals a God who loves us, and judges us in love. Ours is a story that reveals a God who created us; who gave us freedom as well as constraints, but is not absent from us.
     
    These stories invite us to experience what the others have found. God is walking among us, creating and renewing still. God is in Jesus and in the gentle yet wildness of the Spirit. And not just for humans but creatively at work healing and renewing all of creation.
     
    Scripture reveals that God’s saving purpose is bigger than us, it is for all of creation. We will all choose the perspective from which we will view the world. I invite you to take in the stories of God’s working among us. They give us sacredness from which to shape our perspective, not facts of truths to be proven.
     
    Truth is not always fact, theologian N T Wright points out. Just look at Jesus’ parables. They point out truths through words, through story. They reveal a picture of God - and of us - that is more than “fact”. To find the larger truth of Genesis 1, we need not look to carbon dating, to observable facts, to literal word. We fall back into chaos when we try to make great truths provable. The great truth of this sacred story is the vision that however it happened, however long it took, we were called into being by a gracious God. We are the image of God, given a love-filled breath of God, to care for God’s good creation.
     
    This should not make us feel superior but humble us. You know, entomologists teach that in its word origins “humility” is related to “grounded” or “from the earth”. So, a great truth of the creation story, rather than the literal details of how is this: we who were formed of the earth, should practice humility in all our relationships. And that is a truth that cannot be learned by reading the story for the facts.
     
    The Anglican Church, the Church of our Communion, hasn’t thought on scripture through doctrines or treaties, but through worship. For us, public worship is to present God to those gathered through the reading of scripture and the offering and receiving of Jesus at the table. We present God in word and sacrament so that we may leave with God as our perspective in all that the next week will bring.
     
    Today we begin a new season of the church year. This is the longest season ending the last Sunday in November. Think about all that is to come between now and that time! Summer ends, new school years begin, cool weather hopefully returns bringing the fall colors, pumpkins and thanksgiving meals.
     
    When we enter this season after Pentecost, we will hear one gospel in sequential order. We pick up Matthew’s story, not from its beginning, for that we heard that in the season after the Epiphany, but we begin with Jesus’ ministry. Today’s gospel, from the end of Matthew’s gospel, serves as a framework for what is to come. So as we ponder Jesus’ acts of ministry, we have these words reminding us that as we join in God’s great mission and we are not alone. But we will also hear a semi- continuous reading of the Old Testament the rest of this season. You may not know that in this season, there are two “tracks” of readings from which we may choose. One is a semi continuous reading and one is based thematically on the gospel reading. I have chosen the first. So that this summer, we will hear the great stories of Genesis, flooding our imagination with God’s word of our beginning; helping our conversation about God, about faith in this day and age, with the perspective of a connecting story.
     
    In the beginning… You know our creation story was a word in contrast to what other cultures were saying. The Sumerian story was swept up by the Babylonian empire but both were stories of a world created by war not the goodness of God’s face sweeping over the waters. We say Genesis, “in the beginning”. Theirs was Enuma Elish, “when on high”. In this very complicated story of many Gods, Marduk does violent battle with the sea goddess Tiamet. After a series of violent battles, the world is created after he splits her dead body in half.
     
    The Hebrew people knew another story of creation. Where the one God acts and where all that is, has their being in God’s creation, even the sea monsters. They offered the world another perspective. They were given a story of a good God, a gracious God, to tell the world.
     
    In this creation, which was not out of nothing, for water and darkness were there. But chaos is transformed  - the waters and the darkness do not go away. They are given order and new life: darkness now has light as its companion. Water has land. The creation story reveals a God who names and separates things, gives order to chaos; giving goodness. This is a God of redemption. And then, on that 7th day, God gives the world another gift blessing rest. Don't we all need to hit a pause button in our week? Well, this story reminds us it is ours. God has indeed offered such to us.
     
    This week Prime Minister Teresa May said that people need certainty. Well my friends, if you are looking for certainty in life you can find it in the creation story. Not in the provable facts of God’s actions but in the faith statement that we were created in God’s image. Being made in God’s image connects us with God and calls us into God’s work in the world. It means we are not perfect but good. We have boundaries and when we forget God’s ways that help us heal and renew, we give chaos a stronger foothold in our life. But when we remember the ground of our being, we walk with God and strengthen others walks as well.
     
    In our fixed state of creation, we have both freedom and responsibility. And the stories of our sacred text call us to consider the complexity of such while offering a perspective that will breathe life into us again and again.