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The Heavenly Pudding

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Come Holy Spirit, our souls to inspire, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Amen.

Let me begin with my own little story…

I came home the other day to find Sally enjoying herself immensely in the kitchen, doing some cooking.

Disclaimer: She actually does enjoy cooking. And she doesn’t do it all.

Anyway…

I enter the kitchen, and it is a complete bomb sight. Dirty mixing bowls everywhere, bits of chocolate mixture on the work tops. And looking bemused, I ask her what she’s making. She explains excitedly that it’s called ‘chocolate puddle pudding’.

Some of you may know of it – It’s Delicious!

She explains to me that this this pudding is quite remarkable. It’s all one mixture to start with, then you put it in the oven to cook, and then, when you get it out to eat, the outside is this beautiful moist chocolate cake, but the centre is this gorgeous liquid chocolate goo.

So, Sally shows me the mixture. And I cannot for the life of me see how this brown sloppy mess is going to turn out like she says it will. But I’ve eaten enough of Sally’s cooking to trust her. So, I leave her to it, with my mouth watering.

And you know what, it was heavenly.

Now, it seems to me that faith is a little bit like chocolate puddle pudding. (!)

All I could see was a kitchen in a complete mess that I was going to have to clear up, and a brown sloppy cake mixture. But I trusted Sally knew what she was doing and believed it would turn out to be delicious.

In our lives as Christians, we often see things that by all appearances do not fit with what we believe.

Paul knows this full well and so tells the Corinthian Church that:

We walk by faith, not by sight.

Paul tells us something that simply is true about the people of God called the church. It is not a command that he is giving. It is simply fact. We are a people who walk by faith and not by sight.

We are the people who trust that this brown sloppy mixture will turn out to be heavenly.

We believe in The Father Almighty, the all-powerful one whose name is love. And yet we see pain at every turn and God apparently doing nothing about it.

We believe in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead and ushered in the new creation, where life, love and peace reign. And yet we see that things continue the same as they always have done – there is poverty, war, and brokenness the world over.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the one who changes lives and unites the church. And yet we see a church divided, and our own lives as a shadow of what we wish they were.

Clearly then, Paul is right when he says, we walk by faith, not by sight. All we see is the sloppy brown mixture. But we have faith it will become the chocolate puddle pudding.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus’ two parables point to a similar thing. The Kingdom of God, Jesus says:

Is as if someone scattered seed on the ground and then waited for it to grow. The seed is scattered in faith. The farmer trusts that it will grow into good grain. But all he sees, at least for now, is seed on the soil, which birds eat and the sun scorches.

Again, The Kingdom of God, Jesus says:

Is like a mustard seed. The smallest of all seeds. But one which grows to be the greatest and largest of shrubs. All the farmer sees, at least for now, is a tiny seed. But he trusts that it will grow big enough for birds to build their nests in.

We walk by faith, and not by sight.

But this faith is not so called ‘blind faith’ as some accuse it of being.

I did trust that the cake mixture would turn out to be delicious without any reason.

I had faith, I trusted, because of what I’d seen my wife do before.

In the same way, our faith does not rest on sight, but paradoxically it is not blind either – despite the accusations of some. It is based on all we have seen and heard.

It is based first and foremost on the resurrection of Christ. Who appeared to the 12, to 500 followers, and then (by a vision) to the Apostle Paul. The resurrection of Christ stands as the foundation of our faith and our hope. With his resurrection the New Creation, where all is life and love and peace, has already come. But it is not yet fully revealed. We do not yet see it as it one day will be.

We walk by faith not by sight. But our faith is not blind.

It is based, first, on the resurrection of Christ. And, second, it is based on all that we have seen and heard God do in our own lives and in our world today.

Like the farmer in the parables, we do not yet see grain ripe for harvest. But we do see, from time to time, little shoots peeping through the soil. We see the first signs of life in the field. Small buds coming up giving hope of what is yet to come. We see glimpses of the New Creation. Glimpses of a world where all is life, love and peace.

We see these glimpses on a personal level.

We glimpse the New Creation breaking in when we see someone going out of their way to help their elderly neighbour. When we see someone sharing their food with a person in need. When we see communities supporting those in pain. Time and time again have I seen such glimpses of the New Creation during my time here at St Matthew’s.

We see these glimpses of the New Creation at a societal level too. When, for example, many years ago, the Berlin Wall fell and families long since separated were reunited. We glimpse it when, more recently, Pope Francis managed to get Cuba and the USA to talk to each other. These are small glimpses of what we hope for.

We see a glimpse of the New Creation in the Eucharist as well. It is a glimpse of the heavenly banquet where all are fed and none go hungry; where all live in peace under God’s good grace.

We walk by faith, not by sight. But our faith is not blind. It is based on the resurrection of Christ, and on all those small glimpses of what is to come. We see the power of Christ’s resurrection breaking through here and there; little shoots of life amidst a barren looking field.

We trust that the brown sloppy mess will become the heavenly pudding, because of what we’ve already seen and heard.

Walking by faith, and not by sight, we can help others to glimpse something of God’s love and peace breaking through here and there.

We can shout for joy whenever we see a little shoot of life amidst the mess of the world.

We can keep on seeking after Christ, even when what we see around us makes us want to lose hope.

We walk by faith and not by sight, when we look at ourselves and cannot find the fruit of the spirit, when we look at our church and cannot find the love we should, when we look at our world and see Islamic State taking an ever greater hold.

Despite all we see, we can keep on seeking after Christ because we know how the story ends. We know and trust that the New Creation of life, love and peace, which was ushered in by Christ, will be fully revealed at the end of time.

We walk by faith for now, in the sure and certain hope, that our faith will one day become our sight.

Or to put it another way, we keep on going in eager expectation and trust that this brown sloppy mess – which represents our lives, the church and the world – will at the end of time be transformed into the heavenly pudding.

 
 
Mark 4.26-34, 2 Cor 5.6-17