Reflections

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From the Rectory  16th May 2020

Readings for 6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22 - 31

John 14:15 - 21

 

https://sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/acts-1722-31/

In the reading from the Book of Acts the apostle Paul, when visiting Athens in Greece, noticed that there were various objects in the city inscribed “To an unknown God.” Paul was curious. How could they worship an unknown God? It didn’t make sense. Why would you erect an altar to something that wasn’t known? Was it just an attempt to cover their bases? An altar to any God that happened to be passing but they didn’t want to offend?

If the Athenians are worshipping ‘an unknown God’ it might suggest they acknowledge there is a powerful God out there – but they just haven’t worked out who it is yet! So Paul sets out to enlighten them. He says this;

I proclaim to you. The God who made all the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” (vv24-25)

So quite clearly Paul is saying we do know who God is – he’s the creator of all that exists; he made it. Without Him there would be nothing. He then outlines two important characteristics of God;

“He does not live in shrines.” He has no need of them and He isn’t going to be limited to the confines of any manmade structure. In the middle of this corona virus pandemic it’s appropriate to remind ourselves that God isn’t to just be found in a church or religious building. He can be found anywhere and everywhere and often where you least expect it.

“As though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” God didn’t just create the universe, he also created people and gave them life. A God that is great enough to give life cannot at the same time be so poor that he would need anything people might have to offer. God is the gracious benefactor.

Paul also goes on tell them;

 “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…and the boundaries of the places they shall live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though he is not far from each one of us.” (v26-27))

So we have a God who is mighty enough to build the world and everything upon it, to breathe life into humankind, to create from one ancestor the whole people of the world and to spread them across the globe where they would live and search for God themselves. Yet he needs no temples or shrines, he needs no showers of gifts. All he wants is for us to acknowledge and love him because there is so much more to give.

 

Here in the middle of 2020, the most extraordinary year many of us have ever lived in, we find ourselves stalled. A time when the world is paralysed by Corona virus, when the science seems conflicting, contradictory and imprecise and many resort to worshipping an ‘unknown God’ of speculation, guesswork and floundering, Paul holds up for us a message for everyone which says “Hey guys, you’re not stupid, I see what is happening but we aren’t in control. There is a God who knows what is happening and he will see us through it. There is an opportunity for everything to come good if we take it.”

Where is this God right now? He’s holding the hand of the grandmother dying of Covid 19. He’s beside the carer in the nursing home. He’s with the heroin addict trying to become clean. He’s with the driver transporting food. He’s with the teacher in the classroom. He’s with the Eritrean migrant crossing the channel in an inflatable dingy, he’s with the farmer unable to transport his crop, he’s with the furloughed barman struggling to feed his family, he’s sitting beside you, in your home, right now.

God is there with us now – we don’t need to grope for him in ignorance. God is with us; our protector and our shield.

“For we are his offspring.”

Amen