On Sunday, we launched our “Created for Community” season with a single worship service that reflected our true diversity, especially as we welcomed the Circuit Wesley Guilders for their robing.
Below is the sermon from Sunday’s service based on Genesis 1 and 2, a reminder that we are called to walk and work out our faith within a larger group. At Calvary we have, in addition to the Wesley Guild, Women’s Manyano and Women of Grace movements, 7 fellowship groups who meet together for prayer and care and Scripture study on a regular basis.
This season we would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider joining a small group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org along with either the preferred meeting day, age group or area for more information about a group that can meet your spiritual growth needs.
Created for Community: Sermon
One of the greatest miracles and mysteries of life remains exactly that: life. The beginnings, the origins of the universe; questions around whether or not we are alone in the vastness of our one small Galaxy; the miracle of two small cells coming together and growing into tiny hands and feet and hearts and noses continue to fill us with wonder and curiosity and, indeed, theories and exploration and argument and debate.
Over the years I have held in my arms and baptised many little miracles, and shared in the joy and the wonder of each child created so lovingly by God, entering into the family of God. I have also listened to the heartache and the anger of those who have not been able to conceive at the way in which some have thrown away or abused babies and children. And I have heard, more than a few times the anxiety of those for whom it is something unexpected – the whoopsies and the, “I really don’t know how this happened” – and I really hope that you do know how by now ….
But in the midst of the wonder and the questions and the “I don’t knows” is one thing that I believe God truly wants us to know as we enter into our Season of Creation entitled, this year, “Created for Community.” And that is that as unique and individual as each of us are, as deeply personal and intimate as a relationship with God is, we are from the very beginning created in and for community.
Herbert Brokering and Scott Noon write:
A tree can only live
In an environment.
A word can only live
In a context.
A baby will only live
In an embrace.
A thought will only live
A human can only live
In a family.
A noun can only live
With a predicate.
I can only live in community.
When we read from the beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, about our origins, we find not one, but two retellings of how God created the heavens and the earth and everything in and on and above and below them – including you and me.
And, in making you and me, we discover a core truth to who we are; a truth that defines and orders our relationship in the world: that we are the image bearers of our awesome, triune, three-in-one, living, loving God. As our Creator exists within this perfect community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so too is the desire for connection, for community, woven into our DNA; breathed into us at that very first breath.
It is no accident that human babies cannot be grown in test tubes or hatched from eggs but that we are carried and fed and nurtured and grown for the first nine months of our lives within a mother’s womb: relying on the connection of that umbilical cord for oxygen and food, hiccuping when she eats something spicy, settling down when she rubs her belly, making her lose a little of her mind with strange cravings and the urge to clean and order.
We are created in community, for community.
And so, outside the womb, our bodies, our intellect, our emotions are influenced and grown within the community of family who teaches us what is right and wrong, who provides for our shelter and our sustenance and our schooling, who influences how we see ourselves in the quality of love and care that they give ….
We are created in community, for community.
Yet somewhere along the way we seem to forget that. Frank Sinatra’s iconic song, “I did it my way” becomes the mantra of my moments as I seek to satisfy our needs and desires, to exert my will, to enforce my opinions, to secure my future, to carry out my plans. For me it was Chesney Hawkes’s, “I am the one and only … You can’t take that away from me.”
And so, as we gather here Sunday after Sunday, it is often as individuals seeking God’s light and God’s love for our own lives rather than as the God-created, the image-bearers of God, a loving and nurturing and connected family.
Some of us like being on the fringes. We come to such a large church especially so that we can remain anonymous, enjoy the worship, be challenged by the Word, then slip out invisible and unseen without anyone making a demand of us.
Some of us wish that we could perhaps take some time to visit elsewhere because we’ve been so committed, so connected that we feel naked and exhausted and overwhelmed and unappreciated as we have given and given and given ourselves to make life meaningful in this place.
Some of us come with hearts set against a brother or a sister to the extent that we cannot look them in the eye or take them by the hand because they have offended us or mistreated us or disappointed us or done things in a way we would not have done.
This is the community that God has created us for? The community that God wants us to live and grow in?
Surely, like the rest of creation, God could just have made something good.
But where else, I ask you, do we not only learn about grace but have the opportunity to put it into practice? Where else do we receive love and forgiveness and healing and compassion along with the challenge to offer love and forgiveness and healing and compassion? Where else do others so long for the Truth that they are prepared to speak, in love, truth to us – risking offense, risking rejection, risking criticism? Where else do we find friends willing not just to join us for the parties and the celebrations but to sit beside us at the place of pain, hoping and praying for the beauty that God can bring into the darkness, the calm God can create in the chaos?
This Spring, may we recognize that while the Christian community will never be a perfect place, God created us in community, for community so that we might never stop wondering, never stop learning, never stop growing into the very good of God’s creation.
May we become true image-bearers of God on earth as we follow the way of the cross – together. Amen.