Sermon for Feast of Presentation
The Feast of the Presentation 2016
Cast your minds back to Advent Sunday and that wonderful exploration which we shared all together about the Advent Journey and how those roads we travel all led to the crib. We thought of the Shepherds Journey, Mary and Josephs Journey, the Journey of the wise men, and our own journey.
We are all drawn in by the love of God reaching out to us and at Christmas we have seen this love focused through this crib and the story it unfolds.
It is an unfolding story, not a story which was told and finished long ago. We realised this at Advent as we considered the journey to God we were all engaged in, and how each of our journeys were unique and different as well as special and precious.
Naturally this loving God is something we are drawn too. Shepherds, wise men and women, whoever we are. It is also probably why Christmas is so popular and loved itself. The image is non-threatening and all inclusive.
Richard Rohr notices clearly that what we think of God actually shapes who we are and what we become. “Our image of God creates us” he says. “It is important that we see God as loving and benevolent and it is important to build on good and sound understandings of God.
Today we come to the Feast of the presentation that hinge point in our Church year when we look two ways at Jesus, and therefore at God.
Officially, from today we leave the crib behind and turn to the cross on the horizon. Our journeys take a new direction and a new shape but the sense of movement and development is the same. Each person’s route is unique and yet the promise of resurrection and new life to us all is the same.
The Christian life is always about movement towards God and God towards us (so to speak)
But before we pack the crib away I want us to take one long last look at it.
Some may even wonder, shouldn’t it have been packed away already?
But let us ponder again this scene and see our place in it, the journey we made, the things we saw as we gathered around the crib and gazed at Jesus… all those things which may have comforted us about the message of God loving us so much that Jesus is here to show it.
Sometimes it is difficult to see how precious we are in God’s sight… how loved we are.
Someone was asking me about who the beloved disciple was in John’s gospel, and questioned whether it could even be the reader himself.
In many ways when I think about this we are the beloved disciple even though we might not feel “worthy” of that love or even that descriptor.
But then again that is precisely what the wonder of God’s love is,,, namely that it is not about “worthiness” or “good enough” or even earned.
As we now leave the crib scene and look towards the cross we must keep that image of the Love of God burning in our hearts, as The cross says the same things to us about God’s love.
So many of us have grown up with the notion that it is God who rewards and punishes, rather than the notion that it is God who love us. Such a punitive God is easy for us to model ourselves on. It seems easier sometimes to think in these terms than it is to think of Loving as the perfect and good way to live.
We can see how naturally rewards and punishment fit in to how we model society sometimes, those who either deserve or do not.
The Crib and the cross show us a different God, one who loves.
One who constantly loves despite squalor and suffering. One who loves through pain and punishment. God is not afraid of the pain of this world. God knows this pain so well.
From beginning to end… and beyond the end! Jesus shows us a God who reaches out, who forgives, who calls, who heals, who restores to fullness of life, who even raises from the dead.
A God who endures pain and suffering….
This is the God we are invited to contemplate today. This is the shape and form of God that can truly shape who we are and what we may become.