Sunday, February 04, 2018

8.00 Homily for the 2nd Sunday before Lent, Coventry Cathedral.

I seem to be powerless to change the bizarre formatting that appears here when I cut and paste and perfectly innocuous document from elsewhere in my files. Apologies. It makes my head ache too.

In the beginning was the Word”…
In the beginning.
As Genesis, so John. Here, we’re concerned with the roots and origins of all things, establishing beyond doubt the identity of the Christ with God the Creator.
The Word was with God and the Word was God.”
But existence is not the whole story. Indeed, this IS a story. Once upon a time – before time was…
The Word.
Ours is not a God who is content to just BE...remote, transcendant, “immortal, invisible,God only wise, in light inacessible”
Our God is bent on a relationship, on communicating Himself with his creation…He is not only a being, but the Word. God also reaches out in longing to communicate his love to us.
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up to find myself voiceless thanks to one of those irritating viruses...I took the dogs for their usual morning walk – but realised that I would have to keep them on the lead, as I couldn’t possibly call to them.
I walked through the Cathedral unable to do more than wave to those staff I would normally exchange a quick greeting with, as I hurried on to the next thing.
I hated it. I didn’t feel like myself at all – and that was just for two short days.
I can only imagine how hard long-term enforced silence must be...Frustrating, isolating, how does one ever get across the truth of who we are...
Words matter.
And John describes Jesus first and foremost as God’s Word.
He tells us that Jesus was God’s expression of himself.
In what he said and did, he showed what God was like, what mattered to him, what he cared about.
John is saying here, “if you want to know God, look at Jesus – the word that sums him up.”

It is an extraordinarily powerful thing to say, especially as actually,
there wasn’t anything very obviously special about Jesus. He wasn’t some
kind of superhero, just a first Century Palestinian Jew from an artisan
family in an ordinary village. There was no halo. There were no choirs of
angels or processions of trumpets going before him.
But those who experienced his ministry knew that here they could see God’s priorities lived out. There was a passion for justice, loving care and respect for those whom life had trodden down. That’s what brought Jesus into conflict with the authorities and got him crucified. In an age when might was right a Word that spoke out for the voiceless – the poor, the disabled,the outcast – wasn’t going to be one that those in power would want to hear. It had to be silenced.

And the first reading we heard, from the book of Proverbs, essentially says
the same thing in a slightly different way. It introduces us to Wisdom,
personified as a woman, present with God from the beginning, sharing in his
work of creation, present among human beings, close to them - “delighting in
the human race”. God isn’t sitting on a cloud in the sky looking down on the
world with disapproving judgement, says Lady Wisdom. He, and she, are right
there in the thick of the world, rejoicing in it.

The God who spoke through Lady Wisdom, the God who spoke through Jesus, the
Word made flesh, has not fallen silent now. He still speaks. The medieval
mystic Meister Eckhart once said “All creatures are words of
God.”* Each of our lives can speak of God, passing on something of his love
to others if we let that happen.  “To all who received him, who believed in
his name, he gave power to become children of God,” said John. Translated
into plain English that means, if we want to be a part of what God is doing
we can be. We can live as part of God’s family. We can show his family
likeness in the things we do. When we love others, when we speak up for
those who can’t speak for themselves, as Jesus did, we are at that moment God’s word for the world.

The Bible says that Jesus was, supremely, God’s Word to us, but it also says
that each of us is a word that speaks loud and clear too. Let's pray that the word of our lives speaks unmistakably of God's love, today and every day. Amen

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