2014-09-07 – Rev. Jeremy Keay

2014-09-07 – Rev. Jeremy Keay

2014-09-07 – Rev. Jeremy Keay – First Baptist Church Edmonton

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(Sorry for the poor audio quality, you can read the sermon below)

The Lord Be with You

Context is everything.
Words need other words
woven together in sentences and paragraphs
Jokes need a setup and a punchline and a shared ‘sense of humour’

A map needs a compass
It doesn’t seem to matter what field you study, or what class you’re taking
Fashion and culture — style, and art.
Modesty, manners, and Math
Context makes all the difference

For example:
I’m even told,
There are some places in the world where, in the right Context
a Speedo is considered an
acceptable form of swimwear.
Maybe not.
Context is everything.
When the story starts with
Once Upon a Time
we know what that means
And when a magazine in the grocery store tells us a
Shocking new truth
Hmmm, maybe not so shocking.
And Maybe not so true either.
We Humans wake up to a new context every day.
Every time we click another link
With more data to work with all the time
And an endless clamour of voices competing for our attention
The warming oceans
Global politics
Work Life Balance
Sugar Diabetes.
Lay’s new Cinnamon-Bun-Flavoured Chips
So many voices
So hard to keep in perspective
It’s confusing.
Overwhelming and Frustrating.

As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, it is easy to become disoriented.
To lose our way
To lose ourselves
We need orienting voices
We need wisdom and vision
George Orwell said:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
The life of Faith is that sort of Struggle
Sometimes Faith is about the big questions and Deep mysteries.
Questions for Experts and Theologians
Articles of Doctrine and Debate.
Like anything though — textbook knowledge has its limits

The bookshelves are plenty full, and we benefit greatly from this work.
But We know that Faith,
if it’s worth anything
is about how we live
What we’re looking for
And maybe what scares us too
Is a Living faith
In a living God
that shapes our lives.
and Forms our Hearts
and Feeds our souls
Even when we’re failing spectacularly
When there’s doubt
fear, anger
and questions in the mix
Faith inhabits the lives of real people.
It lives in the dark places and sometimes sits in silence
And, as it goes,
Faith reveals God’s Mercies to us.
If Context is Everything then the starting point for the story of Scripture is pretty important.

Genesis — which just means origin
starts with some pretty amazing chapters with all the special effects.
Vivid and poetic descriptions of the creation story
God speaks our world into being from a Formless void
Sun and Moon,
Light, Land and Water and then Beasts, Birds, and Fish.
And God saw that it was good.
Then God said,
‘Let us make humankind in our image…
If we’re counting words,
Genesis doesn’t spend much time fussing about the primordial origin story.
Considering all the arguing and speculation surrounding these chapters,
a few more verses might have been nice.
Some details about the Hydrogen atom,
or the formation of the moon maybe.
Instead, Genesis gets right to the point.
And what is that point?
These Origin stories are about people.
Human beings,
Earthlings placed in this world as unique participants in Creation.
Image Bearers
Made According to God’s Likeness
Gifted with a unique capacity to live in this world.
A lot of people have speculated about what “God’s image in us” exactly is.
Is it our potential for Creativity, Spiritual acumen, responsibility for the Earth, Morality, or Free will?
Some of these yes, but I don’t think we know exactly,
I do think it involves
a unique and privileged place in creation
and special capacity to know God
which includes the questions and the risk — astonishing Risk
and the struggle
It includes the failures and
Those come pretty quick in the story

But it also includes the long messy tale of redemption.
But I’m getting ahead of the story.
In today’s passage we see what God has given humanity.
The mysterious privilege as God’s image bearers
And the rich gift of a pristine Creation.
Be fruitful
Have dominion
at the top of the food chain.
“All this great stuff I’ve made.
These plants yielding seed
These fish in the sea
Birds and beasts and creeping things.
All for you.”

Such a gift.
Amidst all the excitement in all this,
it’s not hard to see how this dominion business can go to our heads.

This passage marks the fresh unboxing of a new world.
A realm that we can’t quite picture, because it describes a reality that we can only dream of.

One we can only see through the blurry lens of scripture.
This is not the world we live in.

And yet, even knowing all the differences between this flawless domain and our troubled world.
Despite these hard realities.
This passage still offers us glimpses of our lives today.
This week I got it into my head to bake a pie for our Tuesday Staff meeting.
We have an apple tree in our back yard, and the fruit was looking especially good this year.
So, I found myself climbing an old ladder to a high spot between the branches.
I climbed towards a promising bunch of fruit,
And when I emerged from the green canopy of the branches
I found a cluster of the most gorgeous, crisp, and delicious apples that tree has ever produced.
And I was struck with gratitude.
That this old tree
which receives so little care from me
should give me such a rich harvest.
We are made in God’s Image
We are charged with care of this earth.
And we are God’s creatures.

Made of the same dirt as
Apple Trees and Antelopes.

Breathing the same air
that Whales and Spiders breath
Nourished by and enjoying the bounty of Creation along with the teaming host of living things that fly and swim and creep.
In these brief pages we find our
First Context
The generous hand of God
who put life on this planet
And made us humans capable of holy moments

Reverence and Gratitude in an Apple tree
Awe and wonder as the seasons change each year
Creation in all its beauty

Creature comforts for God’s children.
I know.
I know that this is dangerously romantic of me.
And I know that I’m only telling part of the story.
The pages of scripture
And the pages of history
are full of people
struggling to live their lives
Trying to make sense of God
And yes, often it feels like God has a lot to answer for.
This is not an overnight process.
This is a long journey.
So friends,
As we set out
We need orienting voices
We need wisdom and vision
We need assurances that this God of ours loves us and wants the best for us.
And so, we start our story at the part where humans show up.
We find our bearings and establish our landmarks
In the place where God puts people in this lush world and called it good.

Our pursuit of God starts with the realization that before we even set out,
God has placed us,
his creatures
in a word teaming with life and beauty

— and he has given us eyes to see the richness and the gifts of creation
We start off more blessed than we can know.

And our worship,
our practices of Faith,
The work of God’s People
the aim — at least in part —
for the community called the church
is to bear witness and celebrate these glimpses of God’s Goodness to us.
To keep our eyes open for
Forgotten Apple Trees and hidden mercies that grow in our own back yards.
To tell the stories of God’s Goodness to us
So that we might press on
And live out
A life of Faith that
Forms our Hearts
Feeds our Souls
And blesses the World.

Go and live as blessed creatures…