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23rd February 2014 - 2 before Lent - Revd. Preb Maureen Hobbs

Sermon for 2 before Lent - Morning
Romans 8. 18-25
Matthew 6. 25-34

Does my bum look big in this?

Hand up who has ever, EVER asked this of their partner? And I don't just mean the ladies! I know you men care about your appearance too .... at least some do!

We all worry unduly about our appearance. I am no different. But why?

And what about minding what brand of clothing or shoes we are wearing? What car we drive? Which tablet or i-pad we use? How big our TV is?

Do we really think no one will love us? Or that we are less loveable if we don't happen to have the 'right' brand?

And it's not just about appearances. We worry about what others may think of us. Of our intellectual abilities. Are we clever enough?

Last week Ken reminded you that everyone here has a part to play and that we ordained clergy cannot be left - or even trusted! - to do everything needed to lead the church today. So, who here (apart from Ken and Paul) would be prepared to come and stand "up front" with me? Who would feel too scared?
Because every one would be looking? Judging? Not loving us?

What would God have to say about that?

Some years ago I went to see a bishop in another diocese installed. And in his Sermon, he made reference to the extraordinary clothes that Bishops have to wear as part of their job. You know - the pointy hat and all that.... (wonder how much that might change when some women get appointed????) Anyway, he acknowledged that putting on a mitre for the first time made both him and his family fall about laughing - well at least it proves bishops (some of em) have a sense of humour! But the Bishop went on to say, " if you want a laugh- anyone- just take a look in the mirror first thing in the morning - before you have shaved or brushed your hair or anything and say to yourself - You are the pinnacle of God's Creation!"

Let's try it now.... anyone who has a compact mirror in their handbag, get it out..... the rest of you just imagine you have a mirror in your hand....
Repeat with me,
"You are the pinnacle of God's creation" - very hard not to laugh out loud...

What happens when we don't believe this?

Bit like my dog Jandi... What do most dogs do when you put on coat and get lead?
Not her, she is often too scared to cross the threshold of the house. Well some days I let her be - I decide that she just needs to have space and the security of her home around her...
Some days I put on the harness and 2 leads so she knows there is no escape!
Usually, once out she relaxes.... Enjoys the walk. Sometimes, she remembers to be scared half way round and freezes with terror. Tries to run home. So what do I do? Well, I have to give her lots of praise. I encourage and sometimes have to get firm, but above all I must use patience and a reward when we get home. I can't give her a treat while we are out - she is too preoccupied, being scared, to take it!
She has forgotten in her terror (a terror not of anything that has happened since she has lived here, but of things that must have happened when she was only a puppy); she has forgotten to be what she is made to be - Dog.

Show picture - Jesus among the daisies / Lillies of the field. (Stanley Spencer)

Stay with that image. See the delight on the face of God. ( Play "It's a wonderful world").

"Jesus gazes at the daisies just because they are ... Jesus marvels at God's creation". Stephen Cottrell

Do you think that maybe as God is looking at us here this morning, his gaze is filled with delight? Why not? Remember you are the pinnacle of God's creation! He invites us to find satisfaction and fulfilment in being the people that we are meant to be. And if, as Paul tells us, Creation is subject to futility - I do not believe that is God's doing - rather the responsibility is all ours, all humanity's for failing to be the people that we are made and meant to be.

In a moment or two we will come to God's table and receive in our hands the best possible reminder of how much he loves us and indeed all creation. We will take in our hands bread, once grain, growing on a hillside or field, and drink wine, once grapes growing in a vineyard. And in that bread and wine we will have tangible proof of how much God loves us - that he would give himself for us - so that we might have life in all its fullness. What else would you expect. For you are the pinnacle of God's creation.

So when you go from here today, will you go, believing you are lovable? That you are loved?
And if you do, what difference will it make? How might you start convincing yourself and others that God loves us and all his creation?
Well here's some suggestions of things you might do over the next week

Tell 3 people how lovely they are to you
Find 3 things in nature to wonder at - spend time just staring.
Listen to the birds singing. Try to identify an individual song and marvel at it.
Do a random act of kindness.
Smile at three strangers.
Write a note of friendship to go with your gift to the food bank. Better still - volunteer.

Listen to your child playing- and delight in them.

If you feel your worries overwhelm you, say out loud. " God loves me" 10 times and just see how that makes you feel.

23rd February 2014 - 2 before Lent- Revd. Preb Maureen Hobbs

Address for Sunday, 2 before Lent - Creation Sunday

This morning we were thinking all about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and tonight's readings are also very focused on the miracle that is the natural world around us. So it is not surprising that this is sometimes known as Creation Sunday - and it comes just as the winter is ending - with all its floods and storms and Spring is just around the corner.... Some days this week have felt positively pregnant with the promise of better weather to come - let's hope for a more balanced year ahead. Not too much dry weather, but please God, not so much rain! And a bit of sunshine would be very nice wouldn't it?

Well with that in mind, I thought you might all be in need of a bit of sunny warmth - now providing that at 6.30pm or later on a February Sunday is a bit of a tall order - even for me (!) but I can I hope bring a smile to your faces with the following RAP that was written a few years ago by a lady called Margaret Gillard - who comes from a village called Hillfarrance in Somerset - so whether she and her church are currently dry or under flood water, I am not sure.... It seems sort of significant that we should have something created by a woman - since we heard tonight how Lady Wisdom was there beside God at the dawn of creation .... but let's just enjoy this offering - celebrating the sheer joy of that moment... (Delivered while the congregation clicked fingers or clapped to maintain the rhythm.)


We believe in God, the Maker
Of Heaven, the sun and moon and the shaker
Of stars like pepper across the skies;
Who formed - dry land and the water that lies
Around it, filled with fishes, and the bird that wings
Through the air above it, and all growing things;
Fruit trees and flowers, according to plan,
And then, to tend them he created Man.

Think about it; imagine in your heart;
Picture the scene at the very start.

Out of chaos the watery birth
In an empty Heaven of a lifeless Earth,
But the Spirit soared while the torrents roared
And God said, 'Let there be light'
And there was light!
The very first day and night met above the flood,
And God said, 'Yes! ……That's good!'

Day Two; God said, 'It's not finished yet.
With all that water it's a bit too wet.
Over the seas and lifted high
We'll make a dome of air and we'll call it 'Sky'.'
There was a second day and a second night
And God said, 'Yes! ……..That's right.'

'Still too damp,' said God on day Three
And he made dry land rise up out of the sea
plants growing to the glory of God
With leaf and scented flower and seed and pod
The third day passed and the third night fell
And God said, 'Yes! ..... All's well!

On Day Four, God said, 'Let us raise
in the sky to mark the days
And nights and seasons and months and years.'
So - the moon and the stars and the sun appears.
The first sunrise and the first sunset
And God said, 'Yes! The best day yet!'

The Fifth Day, God got up and said, 'Today it is our will
That fish swim in the seas and flying birds the heavens fill.'
So wrens and sparrows fluttered and albatrosses soared
And cod and plaice and octopuses praised the Lord
The sun rose early and it went down late
And God said, 'Yes! …….That's great!'

The sixth Day dawned and God turned his hand
To creating all the animals that live upon the land'
The rabbit and the elephant, the cat and kangaroo
And lastly, in his image, he created me and you.
The sun rose in the East and it sank into the West,
And God said, 'Yes! This has got to be the best!'

Day Seven God rested, to contemplate the worth
Of all he'd made in Heaven and Earth.
Let us with hand and heart and voice
Praise God in whom our souls rejoice,
And with each rising and setting sun
Say, 'Yes! Praise the Lord for all he's done!'
Amen, alleluia, alleluia, amen!

© Margaret Gillard (2004), Hillfarrance, Somerset

I hope you enjoyed that - apologies if my delivery was not necessarily the best! And with each rising and setting sun - as well as praising God - how would it be if we thought to take a little more care of God's wonderful creation that we are so lucky here in Pattingham to be able to enjoy all around us?

Amen, alleluia, alleluia, amen!