Sermons



Rev. Andrew Cunnington
21st February 2021
Look Up To The Sky And See

I have been sitting on my own in church for six weeks now.

I have every seat in the house to choose from.

I have settled for the very front row of the pews on the left hand side as you look down the church – and I don’t think anything will budge me from there.

I never kneel down. I rarely close my eyes.

I’ve come to look up as I pray.

At the altar and the candles. At the archways and the roof and most of all at the huge east window full of the colour and movement of all that Lent, Holy Week and Easter is about.

For I have found that it is in the looking up that I discover more about God.

In the looking up, He draws me into a deeper understanding of who He is.

And then consequently, who I might be in relation to Him.

For the last couple of weeks, walking has been treacherous hasn’t it?

A combination of ice and snow on the pavements leading from the vicarage down to the church.

Great quagmires of muddy puddles along the tracks up to the common where I like to ramble round.

So my eyes have been drawn downwards as I go.

Focussed on the potential hazards beneath my feet, rather than the wintery glory around me and above me.

Lent was always in danger of being a looking down time don’t you think?

Bending low before God because of our unworthiness, reviewing the progress we are making in living out the Gospel and finding ourselves falling short – again.

Each of our readings this morning is revolutionary for they are saying – in not so many words – snap out of it, don’t look down, start looking up.

Those of you of a certain age will be able to recite all the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. “Open your eyes, look up to the sky and see” implores Freddie Mercury in the opening lines of that rock extravaganza.

Look up to the sky and see – if you want to understand about your life.

And Freddie is in good company.

For…

Look up to the sky and see says the writer of Genesis today. See the rainbow in the sky and see that it is God’s promise to you, to be there in love in every colour you see around you.

Look up to the sky and see says the writer of Mark’s Gospel this morning. See the heaven opened at Jesus’s baptism and listen to the voice of God proclaiming the truth about Him through the clouds.

Look up to the sky and see say all the Gospel writers together, when this Lenten journey is done and we reach our annual destination at the foot of the hill called Calvary and look up to the sky as see the crucified saviour. Expressing in his body, in one moment, every feeling you have ever felt in your life.

So this is it

In the rainbow, after the flood He is present in every colour.

In the voice at the Baptism, He is present in every language.

In the passion of the cross, He becomes known in every feeling.
But if you only look downwards and inwards during this Lent you may miss the unfolding of His saving grace – come slap bang into your life.

And it’s so easily to fall into the temptation of that.

For…

God is in every colour when we prefer everything in black and white.

God is in every language when we would rather it was our own opinion expressed as truth.

God is in every feeling when we may be led to believe that the outpouring of emotion is a sign of weakness.

Not being in church is something many of us are missing more than we would have thought.

For we realise we need each other to both celebrate the joys of living and to grieve in the sorrow of dying.

It is not good for us to be alone – and church exists as the great community of rainbow colours, accented voices and numerous feelings which find their root in God and their expression through each of our lives.

It enrages me that some are pessimistic about the future of the Church of England – I am not – for never in my lifetime has their been an opportunity for inclusion and relevance and being at the heart of it all which is what the Gospel appears to be all about.

But only if we look up to the sky and see.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God – said St Paul to the established church in Rome and his voice rings loud and clear into our day.

Might this be a course we need to charter in this different Lent.

That we might not contain within our traditional expectations of what God might be, but set Him free to roam ever more widely with us into every corner of our lives.

The colours. The languages. The feelings.

Now…

There are plenty of examples in the bible of those not at all willing to go down this path.
Not ready to look up cried Nicodemus – the well respected Jewish teacher, when he crept along to see Jesus under the cover of darkness – for although he wanted to follow – He was still bent low examining the minutiae of the law and looking for salvation there.

Not ready to look up cried the rich young ruler – allured by the teaching he heard but bent low by the wealth at his feet.

Not ready to look up cried Judas for he knew that if he nailed his colour to Jesus’s mast – his whole world would be turned upside down and he couldn’t face that.

So it is that Lent, a time when we tend to regroup around a familiar discipline is really about casting our nets in new fishing places, taking a new track up a never explored mountain and looking into the eyes of one another with an expectation of blessing.

God makes a covenant relationship with us and it is to be with us in the come what may of Old Testament days, New Testament days and 21st century pandemic days.

I do hope you will want to share in all the things we have planned to share in Lent this year. The services. The Lent Group. The jigsaw puzzle online and the Lent in an envelope and that through these – we may all lift up hearts and hands and voices and…

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

 
 
GENESIS 9: 8-17
MARK 1: 9-15