Sermon by Dr Mike Ford 16th February 2020
This morning we have heard three Bible readings (the whole chapter 1 of Genesis, Romans 8:15-25 and Matthew 6:25-34) They all mention creation in one way and another. What I want to talk about is partly what do they say to us and partly how do I — or any of us— fit in.
Imagine I asked you to paint a picture showing where you fit in to the world. Don’t worry if you can’t draw. I can’t either. Just imagine.
My picture might look like a Lowry painting with lots of black, stick-like figures in an industrial landscape. I would be one of those stick figures, in a fairly inconspicuous position. Or maybe my picture would be like a “Where’s Wally” puzzle with people everywhere. I would be one of the people tucked away somewhere. Just one of the many.
Now put God into the picture. What would that look like? A huge canvas to get everyone in, maybe. My answer is that it just can’t be done. God is bigger than any picture. That is the significance of the Genesis story. God created. Without needing help. Not by accident but by deliberate stages. God was in charge right from the beginning. Quite different from the ancient Greek gods and the idols of other ancient religions which have human failings.
Is Genesis scientifically accurate? I don’t think it matters — although whoever wrote that the God started by creating light was way ahead of the big bang theory saying the same thing. The message of that first chapter of Genesis is about the absolute power of God.
How is that significant to me? The opening line of Psalm 24 is The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. It’s not the only psalm which starts with the central position of God. For instance psalms 90 to 99 pretty well all do. It gives a clear orientation before going on to anything else. So if I am praying about a problem, I am going to the One who has complete control. God is undoubtedly a can-do character. On the biggest scale imaginable.
Now what about the gospel passage? That answers questions like Will God deliver? and Does God do detail? Jesus answered those questions by telling people to look around them.
My “for instance “ story goes back to last October. I found myself in a small group of people looking at a bird. I am not a competent bird watcher, but my middle daughter is and we were visiting. Not only were we staring at this bird, it was staring straight back. Body and wings were a dusky pink. If that had been the only colour it would have been nondescript. But the face was glossy jet black with a little bit of bright colour, red and gold, at the edge. Magnificent, through understated detail. Oh yes! God does detail. And that is what Jesus had in mind when he told his followers to look at a wild flower. Jesus also answered the Is God interested in us? question with look what he does for little birds…you are worth much more.
I am not going to say much about the Romans passage. That deals with the question This world has troubles— will it always be like this? Paul’s answer was an emphatic No. What lies ahead in eternity is much better than now.
Come back to the here and now. I asked you to imagine a picture of where do I fit in, and mine was a lot of people with me as just one in a crowd. I wondered what that picture would be like if I asked God to paint it. Would it be huge, to get billions of people in?
What I thought next was a bit different. Suppose I was asked to paint a picture and put my eldest grandson in. Would that be a picture with him as just one in a crowd? After all, I know he is just one in a class at school, the school is just one school in Birmingham, Birmingham is just one city…and so on.
No. I would not want to paint that picture. What I would want is picture of my grandson. On his own, or perhaps with his immediate family. Oh, of course I would also want pictures of my other grandchildren, but one picture for each child, please.
So what Is God’s picture of where you fit in? It’s a picture just of you. Except that God might be saying Why bother with a picture when we can hold hands?