Who is God really
Gate Pa – 3rd March 2013, Lent 3 (Year C)
Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm: Psalm 63: 1-8
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
What I want to say:
explore how our primary image of God shapes our theology, and our relationship with God, and how we understand life, using Luke 13
What I want to happen:
People to use the rest of Lent to spend time paying attention to their primary images, and how they shape their understanding of God and themselves, and to spend time exploring God’s invitation to move beyond that image.
someone asked you what Good Friday is about – what would you say?
explore who needed Jesus to die on the cross
God – what is primary understanding of God that leads to that?
Us - what is primary understanding of God that leads to that?
These primary images shape our understanding of God, ourselves, what God desires of us and how live our lives
shape answers to whose are we, who are we, and what is ours to do?
primary images help us get into readings heard this morning – esp Luke and Isaiah
2. Isaiah 55
second Isaiah – written for exiles
all known how to be people God stripped away
left in Babylon for generation
left wondering - whose are we, who are we, and what is ours to do
when lived Judah – so simple
all about temple and Jerusalem, line David and kingdom
all of that is now gone
now seemed so hard
left wondering why is this happening?
if we are people God, why has God abandoned us to this life strange land?
pause for moment and ask “What is their primary image of God?”
who rewards those who deserve it and punish those failed/sinned?
clearly see that they have sinned and deserve punishment
reading for us
we entering our own exile
used to be so simple
hatch, match, dispatch
provide pastoral care all needed it
looked after people’s spiritual welfare
provided focus communities just by being here
now, others match and dispatch
counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists provide pastoral care – probably good thing
no longer focus community – most people don’t even know we are here
like exiles in Babylon we left wondering why is this happening to us?
if we are people God, where is God in all this?
primary image of God will shape our answer to that question.
3. What does this passage have to say to them and to us?
What does this passage have to say to them and to us?
passage heard begins with a take on the water sellers sales pitch
goes beyond that
offering more than water
offering more most people dream of
water, milk, wine, bread, rich food
stuff of wealthy land owner
yet it is offered to all
no matter how thirsty, how needy
no matter their ability to pay
unlike ways world they live in
nothing stifles this gift of God
makes no sense
imagine flack get government ministers with free offer to all
business leaders response to this madness
none of it gained though own efforts
none dependant on their wealth
as Isaiah says - thoughts and ways of God are not our ways
why Isaiah suggest God doing this?
nothing we strive for through our own efforts and wealth will ever satisfy
true satisfaction only found in God
we started with some images of God
this is a radically different image of God
not rewarder of good
but generous and bountiful provider to all
to those seem deserve it
those normally seen as not deserving it
reshapes understanding who People of God are
no longer holy people who deserve God’s providence
as was thought
people who invite all receive God’s generous, undeserved and satisfying bounty
no matter who they are.
So where are we in this
who is God for us in light of this?
is God the loving judge who rewards God ‘s holy people (us) those deserve it
or generous and bountiful provider
4. God as Judge
like to say generous and bountiful provider
trouble is that for many of Christians that God as judge is primary image
people see spiritual direction – who realise much lives tried so hard please God
earn God’s love
be deserving God’s goodness
another directee wondered why God allowed friends of hers continue financially struggle
why didn’t God fix their problems
they deserve it.
God as judge still powerful image for many of us
rewards just, holy and good
see this times disaster and calamity
“why has this happened to us/them?”
heard it two years ago in response Dean Peter and Bishop Victoria in Christchurch
God did not cause this
Others used this pronounce God’s judgements
as did Boxing Day Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, Japan
this is God’s judgement on you
hear echoes of that in our Gospel reading
these bad things happened because they were sinners
have been judged by God
that is primary image of God at work here
So Jesus asks are they worse sinners?
and then says
“No I tell you; but unless you repent, you will perish just as they did.”
Jesus seems to reinforce this image of God as a judge
Jesus seems to be saying
we are all sinners
as bad as those who described
equally deserving of punishment
maybe what saying is that we need to repent of is this image of God as judge
need to stop seeing the world in terms of deserving either of God’s judgement or providence
either of being inside and deserving of God’s love and care and bounty
or outside and deserving of all the bad stuff that happens.
5. a fig tree
he tells story about fig tree
uncertain if two stories linked by Jesus
some say yes, some say no
Luke links them, so need to be read in that way, even if not how Jesus told them
a man had a fig tree
deserved dug out
wasted not only water used on it
wasted land it was in
one people Tuesday service said
if it was my tree I would get rid of it.
that is what should happen
I think important to remember that Jesus is telling story whole lot people lived under God’s judgement
either see themselves as judged and undeserving (like the fig tree)
how many of us see themselves as judged and undeserving
suffer God’s judgement daily
like the fig tree
wait, expecting the chop
also speaking those who seemingly judged righteous
live in consequences of that judgement
rewarded with health, wealth and high status
they are the ones who would order the tree chopped
that’s how the world worked
that how God – judge operated
what happens next in story is all wrong
should be chopped
if let live, leave roots alone
don’t dig around it
confine roots fig tree
doesn’t Jesus or Luke know anything?
instead tree is not chopped
instead roots dug and manure is put on it
manure – all crap
all makes one unworthy
makes one judged
provides soil by which tree become fruitful
tree does not deserve it, but receives second chance
what picture of God is Jesus offering us his hearers in this story?
Isaiah knew that primary image people had God shape hopes
shape expectations God
shape response to God
Jesus knew same thing
if God is a judge
live our lives trying please God
trying earn Gods love
that is hard work
picture offered by Isaiah and Jesus is not judge
suggest Jesus wants hearers to repent of that image
not lead to life
not lead to God
Both offer image God does unexpected
image generous life giving God
giving to all,
no matter how deserving
for all equally undeserving and equally deserving
and what God gives is what truly satisfies
while all we strive for and seek to earn leaves us unsatisfied
Lent time us pay attention to our primary images of God,
pay attention to how those images shape understanding of both God and ourselves,
paying attention to how we experience and respond to God, who God is inviting to us to become, and we how might live that out.
invite you spend time during rest Lent exploring
what is your primary image of God
does it lead to life
being open hear God’s invitation to move beyond that image.