Monthly Archives: March 2015

A broken heart you will not despise

A reflection on Jeremiah 31.31–34, Psalm 51.10 and a cracked pot for Holy Week.

Ring the bells that still can ring,
forget your perfect offering;
there’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.             Leonard Cohen

Did you ever start a job and find half way through that it wasn’t working right? You know, you’ve got this you-beaut flat pack from Ikea and you suddenly realise you’ve put half of the pieces on back to front? All you can do is take it apart and start again.

It happens to God too. Not the Ikea thing, God always assembles Ikea stuff really well. But God does have to start all over again in the Bible more than once. One time God does a restart is the Flood story. Genesis 6 says,

The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Now, this is a very troubling picture of God. It’s not one that I take at all literally; the God who wipes out almost every living thing is a plot device to move the story of Noah forward. The rainbow is a much better picture of God; it is a sign of the covenant God made with every living thing to spare the earth in future.

(I’m glad about that, because I think we must be sorely testing God with the way we’re treating the earth at the moment.)

It seems that God was starting all over yet again in the days of Jeremiah. The people were living under the covenant God made with Moses, the covenant which is symbolised by God’s gift of the Ten Commandments.

But the people weren’t keeping their side of the covenant very well. They were breaking God’s laws all over the place. True to the ancient promise, God doesn’t decide to do away with everyone; instead, a new word of the Lord comes to the prophet Jeremiah (ch.31):

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This time, God decides to remake people from within. Instead of laws written on tablets of stone, they will be written on the walls of people’s hearts. Continue reading

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Easter services

Easter at Centenary Uniting Church: you are welcome to come on the journey with us.

Holy Thursday Eucharist and Tenebrae: 7PM

Good Friday: 8.30AM

Easter Vigil together with St. Catherine’s Anglican Community at Centenary Uniting Church: Saturday 7.00PM

Easter Sunday: Eucharist 8.30AM

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God, hidden in plain sight

Lent 3B, 10 March 2015

Readings
Exodus 20.1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1.18–25
John 2.13–22

 

We live in a world in which God’s work is largely hidden from us. Yes, Psalm 19 reminds us:

The heavens declare the glory of God—

and we know that more than any other generation. They’ve just discovered a black hole that is about 12 billion times more massive than the sun. It’s also around 12 billion light years away, which means it’s 12 billion years old. It’s almost as old as the entire universe! A black hole that old shouldn’t exist. Physicists are going to have to change their ideas about how black holes are formed. Yes,

The heavens do indeed declare the glory of God.

But: people see nothing of God in the heavens without the eye of faith—even just a little faith. God’s glory is hidden from their eyes.

I want to claim today that while the heavens, are majestically great, they are not God’s greatest work. God’s greatest work is greater still than the heavens—yet it is even more hidden from human eyes.

What is this ‘greatest work’?

Might it be the giving of the Ten Commandments, the law, on Mt Sinai? The story says that before Moses went up Mt Sinai alone except for his brother Aaron,

there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

The story says ‘Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire…’ It says that God spoke to Moses in thunder and that the people were not allowed anywhere near for their own safety. If I were there, I’d have been relieved to stay away.

On the mountain God gives the law, which begins

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

It goes on to set the limits of people’s behaviour—do not lie, steal, commit adultery and so on.

This law has formed the basis of our own code of laws today. Surely it is the greatest work of God?

No, I’m afraid it’s not.

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