Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sermon for September 7th

Genesis 6: 9-22 & 9: 8-17 ~ Hope and Promise

Imagine you are a parent of small children – some of you of course don’t actually have to imagine – you’re living the dream!
But this is not a dream – this is a nightmare!
Your children are bad; not just creating havoc naughty, but bad – through and through
You’ve cajoled, and persuaded, you’ve threatened and shouted – all to no avail
You warn them if they don’t start behaving; playing nice; stop this destructive, abusive behaviour you will pull the plug! You will abandon them!
You will disown, disinherit; destroy them forever...
And finally,
Deciding you’ve had enough
It’s all just too terrible to put up with any longer.
And then actually going ahead with your threat... to wipe them from the face of the earth.
Wow! When we look at the story of Noah, which is also the story of humanity, a story of death and destruction – terrible destruction, it is not an easy read.
We are so used to focusing on the ark; the animals; the man who was ridiculed by his peers... and the story of after – that we forget the story of the storm and flood.
For this is not a sweet bedtime story for children
This is a horror story of death and destruction on (wait for it!) a biblical scale!
How can such a story of devastation and death still be relevant today? And is there anything new we can learn from it?
I have known for weeks that I was going to be starting and Old Testament series this month – and indeed that this week would start us off on a series that looks at God’s promises – or Covenants. And this story had troubled me – because the more you study it; the more uncomfortable it is.
This is the first covenant: God destroying and then renewing
God seemingly despairing of humanity – all but one good man, and then, realising that annihilation is not the answer.
Did God get it wrong?
Did God change his mind?
Did God – who is good, really give up? Did he really wreak such havoc on the world?
I spend so much of my time now – tussling over natural disasters – did God make it happen? No! God is in all things; stuff happens; God is alongside us in the pain and turmoil.
Humans make bad stuff happen...

Yet, here is a story which unequivocally states that God made the bad stuff happen – and when it was all over, was so shocked by the devastation that he vowed never to do it again...
And, to make sure we and he remembered that promise, the rainbow was painted across the sky as a reminder – God is good. God will never again destroy the earth...
The world may be a bad place at times
But it is not all bad
There is great love at work
People care for each other; care about their community; people matter
And in these uncertain days we have hope
We may not always agree
Or walk the same paths as our neighbours
But if we can respect each other
If we can care for our neighbours
If we can pull together when bad things do happen – well then the hope continues
The future brightens
And we can look to the sky to remind ourselves of God’s promise too:
“When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living beings on earth. That is the sign of the promise which I am making to all living beings”
Bad stuff does happen
But love and hope and light can overcome anything
That’s a promise!

Our Church Float in the Village Fancy Dress July 2014

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