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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon


19th February 2006

Fr David Shepherd

2nd Sunday Before Lent

After 2000 years the Church has come up with a feast to celebrate practically everything. There is a patron saint for most organisations and types of person or aspect of life. Often the Church turned something pagan into a Christian celebration. Christmas, Easter, All Saints’ Day, all started life as popular pagan festivals. The feast was tacked onto the existing party or celebration, which is why there is often a tension between the religious and the secular.

There are some exceptions. There is no feast of God the Father, although I remember hearing of a young family turning up at a Watford church on Father’s Day and being disappointed that there was no celebration of that event. Nor is there a feast celebrating God the creator. However the compilers of our new calendar have given this Second Sunday Before Lent a particular focus on creation. It is not quite a feast but we are encouraged to celebrate God’s work in Creation nonetheless.

You can see it in the collect – ‘Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image.’ It is there in Proverbs with the reference to Wisdom present at Creation. Later the Church was to see this as a reference to the Holy Spirit, God’s wisdom. Psalm 104 is a beautiful hymn to creation – ‘Lord how manifold are your works.’ I like its description of Leviathan, a whale playing in the deep.

Then we have today’s NT readings that speak of the role of Christ in creation. Paul writing to the Colossians speaks of God creating all things in and through Christ who holds the whole universe together. St John echoing the words of Genesis ‘In the beginning’ speaks of Jesus as the logos or the word of God. ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being’. Creation is set before us, to contemplate and to rejoice in. Here are four things for us to think about.

  1. The vastness, the complexity and the smallness of creation. We don’t often give much to thought to how or why things are. We become wrapped up in our own patch. I remember hearing a talk by a scientist who invited to think first about the vastness of the universe and the big bang and then to think of the smallness of the subatomic and of the sheer complexity and wonder of existence. We don’t have to be fundamentalist creationists to see the hand of God at work in all this. That cosmologist was also a man of faith.
  2. Human beings as God’s creation. Christianity sees human beings as being created in the image of God. That means we are like him, not the same as God, not identical with God but having his Spirit within us, giving us life. Jesus Christ is like God, he enables us to be like God too. That mystery at the heart of our faith should get us thinking too.
  3. Rejoicing in human creativity. Created by God we to are meant to be creative. Human beings express this in all kinds of ways, in stewardship of the earth, in industry and commerce, in music and the arts, in the pursuit of knowledge, in the rearing of children. Each one of us will have creative gifts. We may give them full expression or they may lie dormant. We can ask God to help us in discovering and exercising our creative gifts.
  4. Caring for creation as good stewards. It can seem over worked as one of the great issues of the day but you don’t need me to tell you how important caring for our planet is in these days of global warming and environmental concern.

Four biblical passages and four thoughts about creation; today may not be a feast but it is a day for celebrating God’s wonderful work in creation and our part in it.

‘I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will make music to my God while I have my being. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Alleluia.’

Amen

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Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at webmaster@stmatthewsoxhey.org.uk Last updated 20/02/06 17:30 Author: David Shepherd