Go Create (Evening Service)
Here’s a question that you may not have thought of, ‘When was this piece of scripture written?’
The truth is that we don’t know.
We kind of get it in our head that one day Moses just sat down and wrote the first five books of the Bible. The reason we get it into our head that it was Moses that wrote the first five books is that when the King James version was translated the very first thing people saw at the top of the page was, ‘The First Book of Moses called, Genesis.’ The only problem with this is that in Deuteronomy they talk about the death of Moses. It’s difficult to imagine someone narrating their death before it happened.
One of the problems is that the faith was oral for a long time.
These were stories and incidents that the clan chief would tell to the family round a camp fire. The first writings of the faith probably wouldn't take place until the establishment of the first Temple, or maybe the establishment of the nation of Israel and the need from the king for a faith that was more established, consistent, without all those pesky prophets trying to tell the king what his role was.
The book of Genesis as we knew it was written (or maybe finalised would be better) probably in exile.
The people had been in exile for decades.
The first temple was lost, destroyed.
The nation was officially no more.
Not only had all thathappened, but the nation that had put them into exile, the Babylonians, been overrun by the Persians.
It was a time of great uncertainty.
What was to happen to them now?
Was there a God who cared about them? Especially when they knew that they had not been a good people, a faithful people.
Why would anyone care about them? They were a slave nation.
They were a people that had nothing to give.
And in that environment a priest sat down with all the stories from the past, all the tales that they had told each other at the height of their power and influence...and wrote what we now call the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
And the strange thing is, of all the things he could have written, he wrote a poem.
He didn’t write science, he didn't write history, he wrote a hymn of praise to the wonder of God.
And in this hymn there is a rhythm.
The thing is done
God sees that it is good.
Then time passes.
Then the pattern carries on.
The thing is done
God sees that it is good.
Then time passes.
And tonight I just want to look at that rhythm because as the people then were living in a time of uncertainty, so I believe that we in this world are living in a time of great uncertainty.
And the message that those people needed to hear, is the same message I think the world needs to hear.
The first part is that God speaks...God is involved.
We do not live in a world that is chaotic, no matter how chaotic it may seem.
We do not live in a world that is completely random, no matter how random it may seem.
We do not live in a world made up completely of chance and coincidence, no matter how difficult it may be to see a purpose and a meaning in life.
We live in a world that God is involved in, that God participates in, that God cares about.
Maybe part of our struggles is not that we don't see God, but that we don't listen to God.
For God is speaking, God is directing, God is guiding, and if we aren’t listening then we won’t hear what is happening, what needs to be done, what we may need to do.
I was listening to a seminar and the minister that was preaching was condemning other ministers, and in particular ministers calling.
Not that he doubted that ministers were called to a church or a ministry, or that any of us are called to churches or ministries. But that we seem to think that God calls us to do something, and then that’s it. That we think that God doesn't talk to us again until the time when we need to move on.
And this minister believed that God was continually calling us all. In the ministries that we have, in the way we are to develop our character. The point he was making was that every day is a new calling.
That would be in line with the writer of Genesis and his pattern. Each day God speaks. Each day is a new creation.
And after the speaking there is the action.
Or in our case after the listening, there is the obedience.
For if we are to follow God, then that means following.
It doesn’t mean ‘follow when it suits us’ or ‘follow when we can be bothered’ or worse still, ‘follow when we have completed everything else that we think we need to do first.’
It doesn’t matter what situation we find ourselves in, God is guiding.
The New Testament tells of a woman caught in adultery.
Now we can go on about the unfairness of the system, about how if she was caught in adultery then the man must have as well but there is no sign of him.
In one sense that is irrelevant.
That’s like the alleged time when the CO OP undertaker was done speeding because he was late getting to the burial site. And his defence was, ’But Rev ... was just ahead of me and if I was speeding then he must have been speeding too and you didn’t stop him.’
Just because someone else broke the law doesn't give us the right to break the law. And just because we got caught and they didn't doesn't mean that we have a right to feel injustice because we are paying for breaking the law. It is that self defence, that self justification, that stops us from feeling God.
Because at various moments this woman would have been guided by God, but just because God was speaking, doesn't mean she was listening.
When she started to feel emotions for this man, even though either she or him or both were in a relationship already...God was speaking, guiding, but she wasn't listening.
When those feelings started to move towards actions, to betrayal of vows taken, to lying to spouses...God as speaking, guiding, but she wasn't listening.
The very day she got caught, how many times did God speak, did God warn, did God try to get her to go down a different path...but she didn't listen.
And then the point of no return was passed, and she was caught in the act.
But here’s the thing.
Even when the point of no return had been passed, God was still speaking, still acting, still trying to help...it seems that God has no point of no return.
Jesus gave her another chance to hear, to listen, to change.
Whether she listened this time, we never know.
But then her story is finished, and this becomes our story...are we listening, are we following?
And when God speaks, and actions are taken, then things are good.
And I believe this.
I believe that when we are obedient to God, no matter how dire the situation may seem that the world becomes a better place.
That was the message of this priest in Babylon, God is still speaking to us, if we follow things will change. And they did.
Even though it seemed impossible that anything could change their situation for the better. The Persian King gave the people permission to return home, and not only return home, but to worship the way they had, he even gave them back all the Temple utensils that had been stolen.
And lastly...time passes.
There is a need for rest.
We were not created to be on the go all the time.
We do that our peril.
It’s not just that we burn out.
It’s that we were created to enjoy life.
Yes we have purpose, yes we need to obey and follow, but there is a reason for our obedience...not just to work, but to work towards an end.
And once that end is reached we should stop and celebrate what has been done.
Stop and smell the roses, see the reason we work, see the reason God asks us to be part of his work in this world.
If we stop and see the good that is being done, it gives us greater faith to listen the next time, to follow the next time, because we see the purpose in it more clearly.
God speaks to us.
The thing is done; he calls us to be obedient, to follow and to act.
God sees that it is good; we see that the world is better for what we do.
Then time passes, we feel the joy and hope of a better world.
It’s a pattern worth following.