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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon

25th December 2009

Fr David Shepherd


The Word became flesh & lived amongst us & we have seen his glory.

Two little girls playing a hiding game, ‘What are you doing?’ asked their grandma, who told the story. ‘We are playing God & Jesus, you can’t see us we are invisible’.

As so often with children, the girls got to the truth simply & quickly. There is an ancient tradition within Christianity that sees God as hidden as, never more present than when he is absent.

In a world of war in Afghanistan, of ethnic cleansing in the Lord’s name in Uganda, of poverty & suffering God can often seem very hidden – not real at all. No wonder that atheism is so popular.

I like the idea of presence in absence. We can think of examples. The queen though absent is present through her image on our coins that guarantees its worth.

A film made up of moving imprinted images, makes present something now absent, sculpting in time as the Russian director Tarkovsky put it. He was also an Orthodox Christian. In Orthodoxy the Icons make present the absent saint or the person of Christ.

God is invisible, a spirit but he has made himself visible in Christ. Jesus is the image of God, his icon. When the disciples saw Jesus, they felt they had seen something of God. For some this was too much – they nailed him to a tree.

The trouble is, you will be thinking, we can no longer see Jesus, he has disappeared too, (the little girls again). The Christian answer is the Resurrection – Jesus although absent is present, once somewhere he is now everywhere.

The scriptures teach that we too are made in the image of God, that we bear his imprint. If we want to see God in Christ we can look at each other. God seemingly absent is present in his people, in the Church, as we celebrate the sacraments. The host, a piece of dry bread, bears the imprint of Christ – he is present.

Today with St John, we celebrate the fact that we have seen the glory of God, made flesh & blood, visible in the baby in the manger – a truth that the little girls grasped as they enacted the nature of God in Christ.


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Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at Last updated 31/12/2009 12:30 Author: David Shepherd