Trying to understand
By The Revd Robert Jordan M.A.
Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
The Bible is a great reminder of the all-embracing reality of life - it moves us from the universal to the particular (such as the narrative of creation in Genesis) and from the particular to the universal (as individual as part of the pattern of creation), and this dynamic process also involves the physical and the spiritual - reminding us that both these are what we are. As soon as we grow comfortable with one aspect, it soon challenges us to the other; this process makes us better people and more committed in our faith.
It is a search, and in this sense we are a travelling people. And I felt that this was a way to continue our theme from last month @ when I was here, and the Church Meeting we had early July. This chapter of the letter to the Ephesians is a prayer.....and I was struck by the words of verse 18: I pray that you may have the power to comprehend.....which speaks about our struggles to come closer to God, and discern God's will for our here and now.
For this morning, let us take this prayer as our prayer... we recognize our belonging, our connection to God; we come to God as Father, and we also recognize we are part of the wider family (in heaven and on earth). As I said at the beginning: from the general to the particular, from the individual to the general picture. This is who we are and we are because we are part of the family of God's children. Children who try to be faithful, children who try to understand how to be faithful to God and to God's creation. This is what the author of the letter means when it is written: to be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit. We approach God in our brokenness, our vulnerability, and God will strengthen our lives.
We live in a world where it seems many try to possess God; they are sure of everything and often reject those who aren't. I hope each of us comes with questions, with searching, trying to understand - my only certainty is that we are loved by God, but sometimes feel this is hard to grasp, and to share. And I believe that it is in our vulnerabilities that we can connect with each other. If we recognize we are searchers who are trying, we are in a good place.
I am afraid of those who feel they can hold on to God, possess God in the box of their certainty. I believe God must be larger than any human certainty. And I see this in the wonderful words of verse 18: the breadth, the length, the height and depth of God in Jesus Christ...this goes beyond me. I try to approach, but God is more than my best efforts. So I find security in the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and pray to be filled with all the fullness of God.
In as much as we are people on the way we can meet with others on the same search, probably travelling at a different speed than we are, and even each of us is travelling in our particular way. I find this humbling and challenging and wonderful...it is this way that we meet others, share with others, learn from others, and learn with others. This too is a reminder of the vastness of God's plan... my individuality is enlarged when it meets with others, and sharing with them I become a better person. Again the particular end the general. The spiritual and the physical. And all I can do is to thank God for this.
I really do believe that in Jesus God can do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. Sometimes this is my only certainty and this is what keeps me going even in the darkness of the way, even in the brokenness of who I am. And I believe this to be true for us as a church as well. And this is why we draw near to the communion table - because we are trying to find, trying to understand, trying to be more faithful, and for this we need each other and need to be nurtured; and this is what God is giving us. This is why we are church - here and now.
This is what the next hymn tries to teach us: We pause to give thanks: we reach out in hope for all that will be. To go where he leads us...to share in his mission. We rise and we risk the course he has set and put into practice God's future today.