Preacher Revd David Gardiner
May the words of my lips, and the meditations of all our hearts, be forever pleasing in your sight, O God our strength and our redeemer.
It’s been a beautiful weekend, a wonderful few days to go outdoors and experience the wonderful gift of God that is creation. I hope you’ve taken the chance to visit either Richmond Park this weekend. The splendour, majesty and wonder of creation is a great way for us to encounter God outside our usual services.
Jeremiah gives us a commentary on how powerful God is, so powerful that anyone or anything opposing him seems doomed to destruction. In fear, Jeremiah tries to bottle up about God, but finds that his bones burn with the desire to speak about him. He has enemies who want him to admit his faith so they can destroy him, but he knows he has God on his side, protecting him, so he ends on a high note of praise.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul is waxing lyrical about the incredible power of the forgiveness that Christ affords us in his death and resurrection. It’s such a powerful forgiveness that there is nothing we can do that cannot be forgiven, which leads Paul to wonder whether it would be a good thing to deliberately sin more in order to generate more of that wonderful gracious forgiveness! But he goes on to say that of course not, because when we live in the grace of that forgiveness, it spurs us on to a way of living that tries to live better lives. We might not always achieve it, but Paul tells us that God can make it happen for us. It just takes some trust. Trust in the power of Jesus’ redemption, the incredible immensity of power that Jeremiah was talking about, where the sins we fall into despite our best efforts is simply destroyed in the presence of Christ, whose rise life we share through Baptism.
So Jesus warns us what it means to deny the power of his love and the gift of his forgiveness. That forgiveness is a free gift, available to all, and we are free to turn it down if that’s what we choose; but he warns us our choice might mean. On the one hand separation from God and life, and on the other potential separation from those things and people that surround us. Like Jeremiah says, admitting to God might make those around us threaten us with destruction of status and property and family, but rejection of God is rejection of the life he offers us.
And through it all, behind and supporting all these big, dramatic questions, are the reassuring words of our loving God:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
So next time you go into Richmond Park, and marvel at the great wonder of creation that sits on our doorstep in this parish, remember those words of Jesus; that you are of more value to God than all the wonder and majesty you see.