Sunday Sermon 4th
In the beginning
Call to worship
Hymn 222(JP): Spirit of the living God
Time for all
Hymn 63(JP): God who made the earth
Reading: Genesis 1: 1- 2:4 Kay
Hymn 598: Come Holy Ghost
Prayer of Dedication
Hymn 511: Your hand, O God has guided
Welcome to our reflection for 4th June.
Today we are looking at the wonderful creation poem of Genesis 1.
Very apt on Trinity Sunday.
For often ministers get into theological knots trying to work out how three become one.
Instead of working out how it works, maybe we should instead take it as read that it exists, and then try to work out what the Trinity does, how it affects our lives.
So we will be reflecting on this after Kay leads us in our prayer and reading for today.
Remember, if you are struggling and you would like our prayer group to pray for you then please contact us at revjimalvakirk@gmail .com
There are few services that ministers dislike...
Possibly the most feared service is Trinity Sunday.
One God, three aspects; Father, Son and Spirit.
Try working that out in your head.
Are they three different personalities working in unison?
Are they three images of the same personality?
Some have used maths to work it out...
Sure 1+1+1 equals 3.
But 1x1x1 equals 1.
Some have used the illustration of the electric fire.
We have the electricity; we have the fire itself, and the heating element.
It needs all three to work but only when they work as one.
Some have used the illustration of the different aspects of the same person.
I am Jim, I am a father, but also a son, and also a husband, and a grandfather, and a minister...which one am I...well all of them.
And you know what, no matter what I said, no matter the wonder of logic and argument that I gave you to justify the theology of the Trinity, by Tuesday it will all be forgotten anyway.
So what is the point?
So instead I am going to argue not about whether the Trinity exists, but what the point of it is, how it makes a difference in our lives.
And to do that I want to look at the creation poem in Genesis 1.
The Genesis poem as we know it comes late in archaeological terms.
It didn’t exist in this form when Abraham started his theological journeys.
It didn’t exist in this form when Moses was freeing the people from slavery in Egypt.
It didn’t exist in this form when Elijah was part of the priesthood and the kings were beginning to create the nation of Israel.
It didn’t exist in this form when the first temple was being built and the religion was becoming centralised in the Jerusalem priestly castes.
Throughout the kings of Israel and Judah the creation poem didn’t exist in this form.
It came about when everything was lost.
Jerusalem was finally destroyed by the Babylonian empire.
All the leaders of Israel that hadn’t been killed were taken into slavery in Babylon.
In the eyes of the people God had lost, God couldn’t defend His Temple or His people from destruction.
They were now in Babylon surrounded by the victorious people, the victorious god Marduk who at the beginning of time had fought many deities and become victorious ruling over all, and who had created humans to serve him for all time.
Could this be true?
And at that point the priests that had survived,
that were trying to work out how their faith could make sense after what had happened, that were seeking meaning in their pain and sorrow,
took all their oral history and theology, and started to write it down in a way that gave understanding to everything that had happened.
And this poem starts it off.
A hymn of praise to God, who is above us and beyond our understanding, but who seeks to be understood.
A God that seeks order in the chaos.
A God that seeks good in all things.
A God that creates.
A God that created humans to have meaning and fellowship.
And sometimes, especially when it comes to humans,
things don’t work out the way God wants,
because humans stubbornly want to do their own thing, even when it will hurt them,
but this God doesn’t give up on them,
because he created the world to be a good place where they could seek their true purpose.
And humanities true purpose?
To be like God, to be the image of God.
Now this is where it gets tricky.
Because I think most human beings agree with that subconsciously.
We all want to be like God, but the God we want to be is the God that is all powerful and unstoppable and destroys all their enemies and can do anything they want.
I have a one year old granddaughter called Leah, and even though she can’t speak more than ten words, she believes that she is god, that the world should revolve round her.
She believes that a closed door is just wrong, that she should have freedom to go where she wants.
And usually that means going into the kitchen and empting out all her plastic plates and knives and forks.
Don’t ask me why, the ways of godhead are beyond me.
And after she has emptied them all out, she wants to move to the toys and empty them all out,
then she wants to take her football and go out into the garden,
until she is in the garden then she wants to walk across the road to see the sheep.
And if she is stopped from any of those things...then the whole wrath of god is unleashed.
Don’t get me wrong here, I love my granddaughter dearly, she is a bundle of fun and joy, but she has the same flaw as nearly every other human being,
that she wants to do what she wants when she wants to do it,
she believes she should have anything that she wants and that anyone that stops her from getting any of these things is wrong,
when things don’t go the way she thinks they should go, then she gets anxious,
in her head the world is there to make her life better...
That is a god complex...and she shares it with the rest of the human race.
Here is a strange truth; the only person that doesn’t show a god complex like that...ironically is God.
That’s what this wonderful poem tries to explain in such elegant language.
We have a God who seeks to create, not for his sake, but for loves sake.
God created the world for us to live in, to be abundant and sufficient for all our needs.
And he created us to be like him.
To be creatures of creation, take what is there and do something good with it.
To be like Him, to find our peace and purpose in constant relationship and fellowship.
To love and be loved,
To serve and be served.
To be understood and to understand.
The priests didn’t care whether the world was created in seven days or seven eras, the words are ambiguous that way.
And it was created in seven days, not six, the final creation was the creation of peace, of contentment...of sitting back when it was finished and being at one with the world, everything being complete
That is why most theologians would claim we are still in the sixth era or day, because we haven’t reached that day or era yet, when everything is complete, everything has found its place, its meaning.
And that was why the poem was written down by the priests in the first place.
Because at that time, in those streets of Babylon, it was tempting to think that everything was finished, it was over, and all that mattered was destroyed and beyond hope.
And those priests were telling a different story, not that God had created the world,
but that God hadn’t finished with his creation yet, God hadn’t finished with his people yet.
And that’s a message I think we still need to hear.
We had the General Assembly recently and it was very depressing.
The Church of Scotland is on a downward spiral and the leaders seem to be coming out with all kinds of platitudes but nothing that we can seem to grip onto that makes sense of where we are.
As far as our faith is concerned it feels like we are in a new culture that is so alien from what we want it to be
and everything and everyone around us is telling us that we are wrong,
that our faith has no place in a modern world and we should just give it all up.
It feels like we are strangers in a strange land and everything is uncertain.
And we need to hear that message of old.
God is still creating and he is creating for good.
God hasn’t given up on his church, his people, on us.
We still have a purpose, a meaning;
to be like him,
to serve and create a kingdom that is better,
to give meaning and purpose in the fellowships and relationship we create.
And if truth be told, history shows us that God hadn’t given up on his people then,
so he hasn’t given up on them even now.
I mentioned my granddaughter earlier.
Even though she is very young, she has that god complex.
Our responsibility is not to try to rid her of that, but to show her the true nature of God, the instinct to be in fellowship with others, to act in love, to create what is good around himself...if she can see that that is the way God is, then maybe that will be the image she follows and tries to be like.
So tomorrow, Tuesday and beyond, no matter what you forget about this service, remember this, God hasn’t given up on you.
No matter how dark things might get,
God isn’t finished with you yet,
so walk in hope.
We were created in God’s image, to be like Him, so let us follow his example, and create something wonderful in this world, in our relationships, and in our life.
Let us pray
It is impossible for us to imagine a universe that is nothing. Yet at one point that is all that was.
Did you enjoy the chaos; playing around with light and dark,
the earth and water, the sky and moon and stars.
What was it like loving the world into being,
breathing life into creatures,
bringing it all together in a wonderful cacophony of light and sound and music and silence.
We can’t get our minds round what power it took to move through this spectrum;
blending palettes, creating harmony in an amazing diversity that reflects Your very being.
We so easily forget that you are still working away, still creating.
That in your being you will always be creator, redeemer and sustainer,
smudging out the lines we draw that seem so definitive and then end up not lasting
often blending and redefining our binaries of black and white, right and wrong,
breathing new life and new spirit into ideas and beliefs and hopes that seemed to be dead.
And in the end always inviting us to be co-creators in the glorious technicolour that is the foundation of the earth,
asking us maintain and encourage all the life that You breathed life into,
seeing and enjoying the creation started by You, who is light and life and love.
May we have the courage to laugh at ourselves, laugh at our arrogance of believing that we can truly understand you.
For you are Trinity, a word that itself defies definition.
But we do understand parts of you, and for that we rejoice.
For you are creator, who celebrates difference realised in love.
light bringer who is revealed in a multitude of colour.
Spirit, hovering over the water, unafraid of chaos, for in the chaos you create something wonderful.
Life breathing Word, inviting relationship in the interactions that we have with others
May we live up to your words.
May we follow the example of your Son,
may we rely in the strength of your Spirit