Here’s a few uploads of the sermons I’ve preached over the last few weeks – we’ve been trying out Creationtide, focussing on one day of the Creation story each week.
This is sermon one – Day One – let there be light and all that stuff.
SERMON ON CREATIONTIDE 1
So we begin in earnest the season, the new season, of creationtide. And we start right at the beginning, in the beginning when there was nothing, nothing at all.
So impressed have I been with Godly play recently, that I spent some time wondering about Creation. I began wondering how I would have done it, if I were the one making creation. Imagine you had a new universe to create, like God did. There was nothing, only you, and the potential to do anything. There was no such thing as light, until you invented it. There was no such thing as water, or air, or the laws of physics, and chemistry until you gave the world. There was no such thing as matter or gravity, until you so decided that there would be.
Imagine that. Imagine you could start from scratch. I wonder what sort of Universe would you create? Would things be the same, things be stranger, would the sky be purple, would the snow be green, Would water freeze when it got hot?
Perhaps, would you create a world where climate change could not happen, where people could not be cruel to one another?
I wonder about this because very often in churches we hear very negative things said about this world. It is an evil world we live, in, we hear, it is ungodly. And I’ve never really understood why people feel like that if they believed that the world was made by God. And that God saw that it was very good.
In fact, the idea that the world is an evil place is an argument made by some of the New atheists, to prove that god doesn’t exist. A world of tears and pain and tragedy, and cruelty – can there be a Creator, they say, to such a world as this?
The argument is a powerful one. If we were creating the universe, we would have done it better. We would create a Universe without pain. There would be no natural disasters. No Tsunami, no earthquakes, no failed harvests and starvation. There would be no more death. no inclination to do evil. If God did exist, then surely he would have done it better – we would have done it better.
It’s a powerful argument until you actually look at it. And we should – because it perhaps gives us some idea as to why God created the world that he did.
Well, let’s have a look at that world, without pain or illness. A world with no earthquakes, mudslides, natural disasters. A world where the laws of physics, laws of nature, changed at God’s will. There would be no pattern to the Universe, no laws, no science. Such a world, where where God kept changing everything would be a world where everything was hidden from us. We live in a world where God allows us to see how things work. A world of changing rules would be a world where human beings weren’t curious.
But a world without pain or suffering? Surely that would be a good thing? I’ve known too many people whose lives have been wrecked by pain and grief not to take that seriously. But such a world, such a place would be a horrific place; a monstrous place.
If we lived in a world where there was no possibility of pain, that whatever happened to us, we would not suffer pain; that would mean that nothing that we did would make any difference to your lives for good or ill. Smoking, drinking, drug taking; no effect. Plane crashes, Train crashes, Nuclear bombs, no effect. We hit somebody, no effect, we kill someone, no effect.
This is a world where our actions have no consequence. Nothing that we do matters. And that is a world where love cannot exist. Because, as I have said many a time already, to love is to trust, to rely upon someone, to hope, to risk. And in a world with no risk, there is no hope, no need to trust. No need to love.
This alternate, pain-free world, is a world without love, without truth, without curiosity. It is a prozac world, a horrific world where nothing is sharp, nothing is real. Above all, a world where we have no choices. No free will.
No, I choose God’s creation ahead of any made by someone else.
And in the first of our thoughts on Creation, let the first one be this. We are called, I believe, by our faith to affirm that this world is the best possible world. We should indeed praise God for both joy and sadness, because it means that in both our laughter and our tears, we are real, we are alive, this world is true.
Pain is not evil. It is painful, it is tragic, it is heart-breaking. It is not evil. It is part of God’s creation, which is the best possible creation.
We live in a Universe where nothing is hidden from us. There is no deceit, no supernatural back-stage special effects. God gives us a Universe with the stabilizers taken off. He has given us a world, where we can make decisions and learn and grow and love and suffer. Sometimes in our pain we cry to god as children would, asking him to make it go away. But he will not. Because god knows as we do, that a world without pain, is a world where we are hidden from God. And how then would we grow to be like him?
The Universe in which we love and hope and feel pain and grief, is a Universe where god loves and hopes and feels pain and grief. Whatever our pain, our suffering, our joy, our love, Christ our King is with us.
That is the place that God created. And our calling as a church, as the people of God, in this Creationtide, is to celebrate it. To rejoice in it. We are literally living in the best of all possible worlds.