He won’t let go.
June 3 2018 Mark Chapman
Last month I suggested that by and large the church was shaped by the apostle Paul and most of the new testament consists of Paul’s letter who as I pointed out never knew Jesus and what’s more, never quotes Jesus.
Remember that the gospels came much later than Paul’s letters.
And again, Jesus teaching which seems to have been 90% parables was not understood by the Roman Greek world and was really lost for nearly two thousand years, in favour of Paul’s writing.
And remember Paul himself writes we see the things of God as through a cloudy window or as a poor reflection but one day we will finally discover the depth of God but in the meantime three things are important:
Faith. hope and love.
But he says, they are not all equal. The greatest is love, agape and he concludes, make love, agape, the selfless dying to self that others might live, make that your aim and everything else will fall into place.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Roman he reminds his readers that it is by grace we are put right with God because of God’s faithfulness.
And then that wonderful hymn we heard read: What then can separate us from the love of God and then that declaration:
There is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s neither life nor death.
And then this amazing declaration, God has made all people, prisoners of disobedience that he might have mercy on them all!
And that might be hard to get your head around but no one can really understand God but this we know:
Rom 11:36 ….all things were created by him, and all things exist through him and for him. To God be the glory forever!
So that’s just a little introduction to hopefully lead us to our firm foundation who is the incarnate one, Jesus.
In Jesus I find this God who pleads with us to remember who we are.
And when we speak of salvation I really believe that salvation is simply being found and discovering who we are.
We are children of God princeses and princes of the high King.
There are many legends, of Helen of Troy, this most beautiful of mythical women.
In legend she is the daughter of the god Zeus.
Helen becomes lost and ends up a prostitute selling herself to sailors in a port.
There comes one who has been seeking her.
He sees this woman on the waterfront, ragged and torn her head hung low.
He recognises her.
He sees the person he once knew behind the lost soul she has become.
He calls out to her, ‘Helen’.
She lifts her head as if she is remembering something from her past.
He calls again: ‘You are Helen of Troy!’
And she remembers and she stands straight as who she is begins to flood her being.
She is not what she has become, she is Helen of Troy, she is the daughter of Zeus, she is a child of God.
William Wordsworth suggests that we come from God, not in entire forgetfulness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
We come trailing clouds of glory, he writes: but life knocks it out of us he writes, making the child forget the glories she has known.
And so we end up lost, but still we have in us a sense of home, of God and that is where we long to be.
Something beyond something that has since we were born been calling to us.
One Bible writer says we have this sense that we are foreigners here on earth and we are searching for, not a manmade city but an eternal one.
It’s part of our dna.
This sense is at the root of our being, it’s what we call an archetypal form.
A longing to be home.
So Jesus can say: "Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. Matthew 11:28-29
And if we have this sense of who we really are
we want to come to Him.
Why would we stay away from home?
And then Jesus reminds us: You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world; My father is pleased to give you the Kingdom of heaven.
God knows you, so well he says, even how many strands of hair you have … left!
He loves you so much, he knows what you need before you ask, therefore trust God with your life and your death.
Trust God with those you love.
Just trust that God has your back and when it gets too much and your pain is unbearable and everyone is against you and the religious leaders shut you out and demand you jump through their hoops,
Come to me, says Jesus, because I am gentle and humble in Spirit and you will find rest.
I’m aware today how some of us have been brought close to death and have shared in grief this past month.
And in different ways been left reeling.
And even as I write more pain seems to be before some of us. And we are left with the question of, what now?
Henri Nouwen during the last year of his life was taking time out and ended up at a circus. he watched the trapeze artist and afterwards spoke to them.
He befriended them and learned from them.
What could a giant of a thinker like Nouwen learn from the circus.
He had had a brilliant career in academia
lecturing at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard.
He had humbled himself and become a care giver at a refuge for the mentally handicapped.
He discovered that one of the trapeze artists was called a flyer and the other the catcher.
He asked the flier how he did what he did.
The flyer said, well it’s like this. I hold on to the trapeze and I start to swing back and forth.
And then I let go of the trapeze and I fly in a somersault just for a moment and then I begin to fall!
As I’m turning and falling I lose sight of what’s before me and so I simply stretch out my arms trusting that the catcher will catch me.
He said we have to be remind the catcher to put powder of his hands because his hands get sweaty and if that happens I will fall.
Nowen suggests that all of us are holding on to a trapeze.
And he says that Jesus invites us to fly.
To let go of all our fears and suspicions all our twisted human nature all our attempts at control and manipulation, all our anxiety all worries, let go and fly.
He asks what is the trapeze that you are holding because we all have one.
Work, fears, reputation, arrogance, money.
What is yours that stops you like Helen of Troy remembering who you really are?
To let go is an act of faith that requires that I believe that this declaration of the unending love of God will embrace me and hold me that I might not fall further into despair.
Trusting in God means not trusting in something else.
And be willing to let go of the something else knowing that I can do that and still live. And in the process discover my true self.
One day, maybe tomorrow or next week, or next year or twenty years from now our hands will let go of the trapeze we call life.
As someone has written:
One day you and I will take our last breath and all that you are will simply cease to be and while some believe that that is the end, that there will be nothing to catch you, Jesus believed there is a Catcher, and He does not have sweaty hands.
And so the lost child comes home and all the journeying’s of life find their desire and all that is lost is restored by the one who says: And now, I make all things new.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am certain that nothing can separate us from God’s love: neither death nor life, …neither the world above nor the world below---there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
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