Reverend Rob Lamerton
3 October 2004, Pentecost 18
"Angelic Realm"—it is the name of a Beauty Salon at Belconnen Mall. It seems the whole idea is to lift one out of the reality of this mundane existence and create a new person—a heavenly being.
This week, on Wednesday we celebrated Michael and All Angels. It celebrates the wonderful possibilities of God's creation and God's mystery and providence.
Angel means Messenger. In the early Old Testament it was very human.
In later Apocalyptic literature it takes a much more mysterious form.
Today's introit celebrates heavenly messengers. ["Duo Seraphim"—Jacob Handl (1550-1591)]
The idea of much of our worship is to give a glimpse of the heavenly/glorious in the midst of the mundane.—Not to disconnect us from the earth—but to see some of the heavenly vision in our midst.
Some would see faith as a connection with the divine which lifts us up out of reality!
But I am not so sure!
Over the last few weeks Jeremiah pondered the future of Jerusalem.
Today we read Lamentations and the author (Jeremiah) is plunged into a terrible reality, into the thing he feared most, the thing he warned about and sought to ward off, that which he prayed and spoke about…
the worst had happened. Jerusalem is destroyed, and the people are captive. (vv 1,2)
Whether he likes it or not, he is plunged into grief…
Similar themes are evident in Psalm 137
[which always gives difficulty: if we don't say the last few verses, people ask why?
If we do use them people ask why are we saying this?}
"How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land."
People of faith plunged into darkness!
Where now is God? How is faith expressed?
Out of that exile grew a great dependence on the law and the place of the temple.
There was much reflection and reassessment as a result of the reality of grief and isolation.
Reworking of faith!
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Then the writer tells the stories of faith which indicate a willingness to journey on, seemingly against the odds.
Faith plunges us into the tough realities of life and in their midst we find glimpses of God.
In today's gospel, the disciples ask: "Increase our faith!"
but as in so many situations, Jesus does NOT do what they want.
He does not want dependent disciples.
He wants them to realize that faith is not about size or volume or weight, it is about genuineness or quality.
Even the tiniest faith—a mustard seed—when focussed in God—can achieve much. They will not always have Jesus around in the way he is now… they will need to develop faith—or accept the gift of faith!
and so the second part of the story points to the need not to get excited or proud (*spiritual pride) of our measure of faith but to recognize that it calls us into service for the master, who is God.
Faith plunges us back into reality.
because we discover the image of God in the faces of those around us // in the street // the shopping mall // and at work //
whether we like it or not—They are the realities of the world.
NOT the so-called "reality TV"—which creates an unreal world.
The Divine image is imprinted on the life around us and faith enables us to see it!
Faith enables us to see the pin prick of light in a dark place.
Faith enables us to add to that light to fan it into flame
John Main, in the introduction to our meditation on Thursday night said:
"Jesus summons is to fullness of life. NOT to a self centred reluctance to realize the true beauty and wonder of our being."
Faith is not only about the image of God in the faces around us, but is also about realizing the image of God in ourselves.
Recognizing "the beauty and wonder of our being."
Why are we Christians?
Why do we struggle with our faith?
Do we have the right to all this?
We are pretty small beings in the presence of God, and yet God calls us to respond in faith: