In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Trust that God is already one step ahead of you and already in the place you find yourself at any given moment, even this moment – so it’s not our place to panic about God’s life for God knows where God is and what God is doing and God knows that God’s future, already being worked out and complete is still God’s domain – God knows what God is doing. Lest we become like Peter who last week in our Gospel was a rock for Christ to build his church upon and today is a trip hazard, a stumbling block for us to fall over.
For Peter is tripped up by his own self-importance and fantasy about God’s life – dictating himself what God will be and what he imagines as the perfect life of God revealed in Jesus.
Being so close to God Peter should have been open to God being, doing and inhabiting even the darkest of places in our world order in order to be revealed as love. Love going to the places where love can go and it seems human sensibility and ambition was shy to follow.
For God is love, and that love has no predefined path or place to go other than to present itself to all of creation and in response to creation whatever we throw back at being loved: to simply be love.
This is what St Paul is referring to in the Christian community. Present yourselves to the world in Love and then you will see how the world responds to you in this guise of God, and then in love respond to what you see, for you will then see the world as Jesus sees.
For too many people, love is a threatening and undermining thing – maybe not at a local level, not between us (I don’t think). But because love is unpredictable: love is therefore uncontainable and will not be conformed to this world or to a particular social demographic or type – for love is what God does and where God will go to pay the price for our inability to be converted to indiscriminate love or belief that we are ourselves lovable.
So in God’s world, though Jeremiah recognises that the wicked will not prevail, and St Paul suggests that we smugly sit back and allow for the wrath of God which will be the vengeance of God to be worked out on those who are against us.
I wonder if we need to be reminded (this might be heresy number 1) that the wrath of God is love, the vengeance of God is love, the power of God worked out in every moment is love!
By our standards which are most probable the same as Paul and Peter’s we perpetuate a Kingdom and life of God understanding if we are not careful still constructed on human society, principles and judgements. Dare I say, perhaps the mighty and the wicked will not pay the full price of their sins, then again neither will we, yes the last will be first and the first amongst us last, but in all things we learn we understand that God will be merciful, generous and loving to all that he has made calling us back into relationship with him both this side of the grave and beyond. Because ultimately as Paul envisages, the powers of this world will be humiliated by love, and the proud will be humbled through love.
The principle of God is whatever you are, whatever you think you are or however bad you might think you can be, whatever you want to throw towards love to prove that you are unloved and unlovable… God stands God’s ground and will not be moved. And certainly, Jesus will not be told by the upstart Peter of where and what Jesus can and cannot be or the places to which he can or cannot go. For God in Jesus is saying continually I will go there, if going to that place love, compassion and forgiveness is revealed.
And this is our calling, that we too go to those places where the rest of the world will not go for sake of comfort and ease. But we must be prepared to go to those places of uncomfortably and rejection and hurt and failure and we must be prepared to remain constant in love.
Painful, troubling – but Gospel.
Take up your cross – take up the burden of Love, and bear it yourselves to the world, and to one another.
Yesterday I sat in the Nave and looked up at the great East window and saw the beauty of God’s love which is the beginning of all things and the end of all things. And around that throne, the images of the writers of the Gospels looking out to the rest of creation Matthew with the face of a man, Mark with the image of a lion, Luke the Ox and John the Eagle… and their Gospels each proclaim that God is love. And in response to that proclamation the powers and authorities of this world offer up their crowns before God. Because they know that their crowns defend only their territory – and they are mindful “that the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done”. But we will be repaid in Love – even if we have stopped being the rocks upon which Christ’s church is built and we have become trip hazards.
For love is his word, love is his way.
This love is revealed to us in scripture, but also in sacrament – so that we might taste now the love of God as a real and present thing, given to us freely, not because we have earned it, and not to humiliate us, but because God can’t help but give himself to us in love. Love which each of us are called to bear towards each other in this church and in the world – love, our cross to bear. Amen