Sunday 25th February 2018

Psalm 42:8  At night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life

Ending the day with a few moments of prayer,
allows the day to flow into God and rest in God’s love.
During Lent we meet in church for the prayers of compline each week.
The prayers of Compline are a way to end the day as we began it;
embraced in God’s presence, strength and love.
Compline means: “To make the day complete.”
A day that begins and ends with us conscious of God’s Presence in life,
is a day that is complete and holy.
No matter what has happened during the day, painful or joyful,
whether it has felt productive or frustrating,
we simply allow it to find its completion in God.
we place the day’s events and experiences into God’s hands,
and let them go.
The next day we will find the strength and inspiration to start again.

Sermon for Second Sunday of Lent

Falling is one of the most common and recurring facts of life.
Each and every one of us have experience of what it is like to fall.
Our granddaughter has begun to walk now with a vengeance,
but she learned to walk by learning to fall.
Falling was a vital part of her learning to walk.

We encouraged her to walk, knowing she would fall.
We watched her begin to climb things, knowing she would fall.
We watch and we cringe at every bump and graze she picks up,
but we cannot prevent her from falling again and again.
Falling is part of the process.
To stop her from falling would be to stop her from living and developing.

When our own children were young
we seemed to be regular visitors to Lewisham casualty.
Fractured shoulder, bumps, and cuts.
As parents you feel awful, embarrassed, careless………
But you know deep down you can’t stop them falling
without stopping them living.

I can remember my own falls very clearly, I expect you can remember yours.
Getting a closed black eye playing British Bulldog;
A broken collarbone trying to doing wheelies on my bike;
Crashing my motorbike driving too fast.
More embarrassingly, a more recent fall when tripping up while jogging.

And they are just the physical falls.
Other kinds of falls have been much more numerous.
Mistakes I have made; poor decisions I have taken; giving in to temptation;
deliberately breaking rules, arrogance, thoughtlessness, weakness –
these are all contributory factors to the regular falls from grace in my life.

Do I regret my falls?   Yes and no.
I regret the pain I have caused others who I have hurt when I fell.
But my falls have been a necessary part of my life.
They have been a part of my growth process in becoming who I am created to be;
a journey I am still on, with no doubt more falls to come.
My falling is important and necessary – and so is yours.

The reason I mention all this is because in my sermon last week on temptation,
I mentioned the creation story in Genesis,
and how God set up Adam and Eve for a fall
by planting a particular tree and then telling them not to eat its fruit.
One or two people have asked me to elaborate on that and so I will.

That story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit
and being thrown out of the garden of Eden is known as The Fall.
The trouble is, it tends to get called The Fall in a negative sense –
in that they messed up, spoilt paradise, introduced sin into the world;
and everything that has gone wrong in the world since
is a result of that Fall.

I’m sorry but I can’t buy into that kind of thinking.
Yes, they fell. But they were meant to fall.
It was part of God’s plan that they should fall, part of the creative process.

If they had not been meant to fall,
God need never have planted the tree of knowledge,
or draw their attention to it.
If God did not want them to eat the fruit
God could have placed angels by the tree guarding it,
making absolutely sure they did not go near it.

But God did plant the tree, God did draw attention to it,
and made absolutely no attempt to guard it. Why?
It seems to me that God knew they had to disobey him,
and eat the fruit, in order to become fully human.

Part of God did not want them to fall, to eat the fruit, and leave the garden;
in the same way that we do not want anything bad or hurtful
to happen to our children.
But God knew it was necessary for them, and necessary for creation,
and for God’s relationship with creation to deepen and be made real.

The Fall was not the worst thing that has happened to humanity,
but it was the most important and most necessary.
It was the beginning of our wonderful journey to become fully human,
and towards a beautiful and complete relationship with our creator.
A journey that we are still on.       Falling is a vital part of life.

There is a story that says
we are all attached to God by long lengths of thread.
Each time we sin, mess up, each time we fall,
it is like we have cut the thread and fallen to the ground.
But, the story goes,
each time we cut the thread God picks it up and ties a knot in it.
We cut it again, and again,
and God picks it up each time and ties another knot.
The more we clip the thread, the more we fall, the more knots God ties,
and the thread becomes shorter, and the closer we grow to God.

That is why it is important we fall.
So God can pick us up and help us grow. So we can grow closer to God.
Remember that the next time you fall.