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Back To Church Sunday
A warm welcome again to you all, but particularly this morning to anyone here for the first time or who has come back to St. Margaretís on this back to church Sunday.
Going back is always a slightly edgy experience isnít it? In lots of ways there is anticipation , we know what to expect but then there are always doubts, will it really be the same or have there been changes?
Going back to places is very like that, some years ago I revisited my childhood home on the coast of north Essex, we had moved away when I was seven. I found it , almost where I expected it to be, but it looked different, the present owners had made changes, the door was not that colour and surely there had been a garage over there - and the memory plays tricks, the size of things was not the same as my seven year old perception - so what had been the special shape of the garden in my mind did not exactly map what was there on the ground.
Going back to people is even more tricky; last month, I recognized that I was working close to where my Aunt must live. We had not seen each other for nine years so I tracked her down, phoned her up and she invited me to lunch. We were in the kitchen when through the window I saw coming round the corner a man who I instantly took for my uncle; it was quite a shock for he has been dead a while and for a moment my brain was all a jumble until I realised that this was in fact my cousin! Things had changed but there was a bedrock of familiarity and before long over a splendid meat pie and a little glass it was as if we had never been apart.
Going back to God, well what about that? The whole story of God and men and women is about us coming back, the story consists of bright moments and some very dark brooding moments:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and man and woman were created. Here is the perfect start, in the early chapters of Genesis there is a favourite passage of mine where Adam and Eve hear the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, what a wonderful pleasant thought that is. But of course soon after comes the fall, the story of the forbidden fruit - now it is interesting I always think that God, who after all is the all powerful creator does not say ďOh there is something wrong hereĒ and decide to tear up the first draft and start again, after all this could have been an option, No, we are given a second chance, banished from the garden of Eden for sure but nonetheless still with Godís love and protection.
And so the story continues, the black moment of the flood is illuminated by Noah, the ark, the rainbow and the promise never to destroy humankind again, the dark slavery of Israel in Egypt is followed by Moses and the exodus the parting of the Red sea, Forty years n the desert by reaching the promised land, the worst of the Kings is followed by anointing David and the building of Jerusalem, the exile in Babylon by the rebuilding of the temple and so on until finally God sends his only son to save us, to live, teach and heal on earth, to be crucified and then to rise again in glory.
Through all of this God reveals his nature to us, and through all of this we see that God is a loving faithful personal God who never gives up, who intervenes to shepherd and protect his people however black they might have been.
So we should never be edgy about going back to God for wherever we have been, however long we may have been away, no matter how far off, God will meet us and welcome us and be ready for us, ready for each one of us in just the way we need - and that is a very bright thought indeed.