The Image of the Invisible God

Author: 
Rev'd Sarah
Date: 
Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 9:30am

Sermon – Second before Lent:  The image of the invisible God

Makuma waffe yeba-zibuwe, Praise be to God.

I’ll begin our sermon next Sunday with these words too, in St Apollo’s church, Katakala, Uganda where Rosey, Gill, Tracy and I will be visiting our global partnership friends on behalf of all of you. We’ll be giving to all gathered there your love and prayers, and showing our friends in St Apollo’s your faces by way of projecting you onto the church wall at some point during the day hopefully (I’m hoping you won’t mind being filmed en masse in the final hymn this morning for this very purpose – but I’ll ask you again just beforehand)!

Next Sunday at 7.30am in the packed church of St Apollo’s, we’ll see before us faces worn by material poverty, aged by the strains of work or lack of it, weary through loss, pain and suffering, but faces lit up and lifted in song and praise, in faith in a faithful God.  We’ll see the image of Christ, shining from faces filled with love for a loving God.  Just as faces all around us here this morning reflect for us the image of Christ – Christ in sorrow, in joy, Christ in sickness, in health; Christ in struggle, in striving, weariness, Christ in humility, rest and peace.  

Each one of us is marked with the imprint of Christ. Each uniquely and wonderfully created by our creator God in Christ’s image, even if we are not always as Christ-like in our behavior as we, and others, would like.

Where is the imprint of Jesus visible in your life today? 

 

Today’s readings are powerful messages of joy and hope. The hymn to Christ, as this morning’s beautiful passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians is often described, sings of Jesus as the first in all creation, the beginning, the Word made flesh.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible ....  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Jesus Christ, the new creation, the restoration of the image given to humanity in creation. In Jesus Christ, the perfect image of the invisible God, God has made himself known to us. The unknowable, unseeable God is known and seen by us in Christ incarnate. In Jesus, God communicates with us through our humanity, and enables us to enter into communication with him. Gives himself in his relationship of perfect love to us, so that amazingly we might come into intimate relationship with him, and be called into relationship with each other. Together in Jesus Christ, we see God.

Where is the imprint of Jesus visible in your life today? 

Two of the things we will be taking with us to Katakala this week are these half finished altar cloths.  We wanted to join in a project all could create equally together. And we wanted to produce something through which we could praise God and reflect God’s glory together, as we grow to know Jesus more deeply through our growing relationship across cultures with our friends in Uganda. 

So on these 2 altar cloths children in Old Basing and children in Katakala are intermingling drawings of creatures indigenous to their own country, reflecting a coming together in the wondrous diversity and colour of creation.

Here you see the animals created by children at St Mary’s Jnrs. They’ve left spaces for their friends to fill – just! It was tough! - and next week we’ll unroll these same altar cloths in the classrooms in Katakala Church of Uganda Primary school for all the children there to add their own big cats, elephants, gorillas, eagles, creatures of Africa - more exotic perhaps than our humble hedgehogs, and not happy bed fellows I fear for the many small cats loved by our young Basing artists. 

In preparing this project, I immediately thought to take in stencils and pictures of animals, fish and birds for children to copy.  How on earth could they draw a squirrel, unicorn, or lobster from memory I thought (knowing how I’d struggle).  However, the artist and teacher with me set me right - let the children freely use their own wonderful imaginations, and all will come to life in all the rich beauty of creation through their creativity. 

And sure enough, at St Mary’s Jnrs in a lunch break last week, in rushed the children, shoes off, pens grabbed, and creativity flowed (thus....)

Here is our 2nd altar cloth from Old Basing Infant school.  Interestingly the Basing infants took a different approach, drawing their creatures freehand on paper first, which the teachers then carefully transferred in outline onto the cloth.  Then this riot of colour emerged...the invisible made visible, from transfer, to outline, and into the fullness of life in glorious colour.

And so the children of Old Basing & Katakala share images of their and God’s creation with each other. They share in the joy of relationship, share in God’s love between and within them, share their imprint of Christ in the world as God’s glory is revealed through the colours of their lives.

Where is the imprint of Jesus visible in your life today? 

If sliced in two, like a tree trunk we’d probably show our age, but would we also show Jesus Christ at our very core. As individuals, how do we reflect God’s creative purpose through our very being.

As a church, do we spill out into our community with the self-sacrificing, generous, compassionate love of Christ, allowing all to see that it’s Christ at the core of all that St Mary’s is, does, and gives.

Our discipleship can feel and be costly. It’s tough to endure with courage. But in Jesus, God comes to us in human form, in our own ‘language’, to show us the way. The Word became flesh and lived among us. Eugene Peterson’s the Message translates this passage:  ‘the word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood’. We have the human and divine Jesus living next door to us, down the street, across the world in places we’ve never visited and barely know....how does that change us? Where is the imprint of Jesus visible in your life today? 

As we’ll be reminded in next Sunday’s readings, we’re called not to proclaim ourselves but to proclaim Jesus Christ, to make his love and his glory known. Each one of us, wonderfully gifted in the image of Christ, is called to transfer His imprint into all areas of our lives and the world around us. Not seeking our own recognition, but being ready to be misunderstood, to bear criticism for the sake of others, and summon courage to continue for the common good; to contribute our own unique gifts to building God’s kingdom here on earth as we lift others up in the fullness of life.

In the person of Christ, we see a way to confront injustice and the small-mindedness and negativity which leads to exclusion; we see a way to bring the vitality and the generosity and the beauty of God into everything, the whole of life. In the face of Jesus we can find courage in the suffering of our own, perhaps private, illnesses, struggles and sadnesses, knowing that he has suffered before us and for us, and holds us always in love. In Jesus, God shares our humanity in order that we might share his divinity. 

We’ll be leaving one of these altar cloths over in Katakala, and bringing the other back for the schools and church of Old Basing to share, hopefully for many years to come. It’s appropriate that these cloths, filled with images of God’s creation and love, will be blessed and laid on the table where we break bread and share in communion in Christ’s broken body.

‘He is the image of the invisible God’.  the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

It’s in Christ we see God, and reflect God’s love as children made in his image.

 

Where is the imprint of Jesus visible, alive, ablaze with colour, and reflected in your life today?           Amen