Reflection given at Chemainus UC on the occasion of the covenanting of Reverend Pieter Le Roux.
Bible passages: Matthew 6:25-34; Psalm 127:1-2
Seems a strange set of scriptures to be preaching on in these times. Matthew has us considering the Lillies, the psalmist tells us that unless God is our every moment, our every moment is in vain.
But then that’s scripture eh? It’s why John Wesley told us to preach with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Right?
Scripture can be many things, much of them confusing, some confounding, some downright hurtful, if wielded in the wrong hands. Yes, it can be lovely, it can be mysterious, it can hint at wonders beyond our ken. It can even be holy, of itself, that’s why we call it the Holy Bible. But live your entire life according to its tenets? Even if you could find a clear set of instructions, it would take a saint or a dogmatist, or perhaps both, to live by it, every day.
Am I right?
I mean, sure, it says the meek will inherit the earth, but we know it takes the strong to protect the meek. Because there are those who will overwhelm them at the first opportunity. Best we work for the kingdom, but make sure our walls are good and strong, maybe even get somebody else to pay for them. The Lord helps those who help themselves, after all.
You can see it, can’t you?
Think about this consider the lillies thing: God fills the bellies of the birds, sure, but what do they have to do but sit around in large groups, talking, eating, nesting..there’s more to human existence than that. And lillies. Lillies? Did they even have lillies? Or whatever wildflower they were talking about, what do they have to do but put roots into soil, leaves into air and blossoms into sun? I mean think about that. All they do, either of them, is float around in lazy circles, stirred by the wind, warmed in the sun. What kind of life is that?
We can thank the Lord for our protestant forebearers, can’t we? Why if it weren’t for the work ethic they inspired in our ancestors, and they inspired in us, we might all be laying around waiting for food and drink and shelter to be handed to us on a silver platter. And we all know that’s just not possible. The world doesn’t work that way. No one lives that way.
It’s right there in Genesis. Eve was taken in by the snake, Adam was taken in by Eve, her daughters have been wracked with labour pains and his sons have had to plow stony ground, ever since. We aren’t made like the rest of creation. We are set apart.
And what’s that psalmist off about anyway? It’s called a psalm of Solomon, isn’t it? Didn’t he build a temple? We’re all about building temples. Look at our cities, monuments to human ingenuity. And humans are the images of God, aren’t they?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we have the bible. It says some beautiful things, the folk who wrote it were really into a search for God. Somehow, in all their trials and tribulations, they kept on seeking the spirit, kept on looking for love.
But in all the wrong places. Am I right?
Who, after all, can spend their every waking moment walking, talking, building, seeking and living fully in the heart of love? Who does that?
Who, after all, looks upon the fields and the flowers, the flocks in the air and the fish in the sea and sees God’s abundance pouring out over all creation. In all creation. Is all creation.
Who sees that? Who gives freely of themselves without even imagining a cost? Who just stands there, swaying in the breeze, shredding colour and scent and beauty through the living world without even knowing they do?
Who puts life and energy, passion and compassion into building communities of care, beacons of hope, places of welcome, halls filled with music? Who bends heart and soul, and body and mind in the call of the Creator of love? Without even thinking they are?
Who comes together in joy, who sings with gusto, who gives without knowing they do?
I mean really, who does that?
Who hears a wee small voice whispering in their hearts and travels half way round the world at it’s insistence? Who longs to nurture the Spirit into full blossoming wildflowerness? Who ventures carefully, longingly, lovingly, willingly? Who leaves all behind, brings everything with and enters eagerly into love’s voyage of discovery in a far and distant land? Who does that?
Who journeys willingly with one guide after another, after another? Who remains open to the breath of the spirit and the new hearts among them?
Who does that?
Who takes up scripture and life, who walks with Jesus, who breathes in the Spirit, who in all things, knows they are already in the country of God? Who has nothing to build but beauty, nothing to be but love?
Let us think of that, as we pray…