Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Relevance of Sermons

In the 12 months since I became a Baptised and Confirmed Christian I have sat through 50 or so sermons, of varying length, interest and content.  Some have been fairly 'bog-standard', some wildly 'off the wall', some really well assembled and delivered, and one or two so good and so totally relevant (to me at least) that I have been sufficiently moved to mutter a gruff "good sermon" on my departure.
This may seem to be "damning with faint praise" but as a not very well-informed parishioner, with a not very easy social manner, any comment from me means more than from the average, relaxed, happy and well-versed in church language.
Today we were treated to an (apparently off-the-cuff) reaction to the terrible situation in Japan and the oft-repeated "why does God let these things happen".  It was well reasoned and well presented and left me with yet another way of trying to apply logic and reason to events where no such 'human' concepts really work.
Through the last few days I've read dozens of blogs and comments on them on this subject, and talked to local contacts for their views, which with my own constantly changing views appear to have reached much the same conclusion.
Namely that:  a,  God is a God of love
                     b, God is not a God of revenge
                     c, Most natural disasters are in fact the result of man-made interference in the structure which
                         God created
                     d, God is not an interventionist, thus he does not react to 'mend' the problems we create
                     e, God is there in the middle of the misery chaos and fear, with a loving presence, holding us
                         up, comforting us, offering hope where none appears to exist.
May his love surround the survivors and all those trying to help them.
Last and least, my prayers are added to the millions of others in these dreadfull days.


  1. One day, perhaps, we shall know the answers. In the meantime points a - e are a pretty good summary.

    My only struggle is to reconcile the God of the NT with the God of the OT. He seemed to allow a lot of human destruction back then!!

  2. Be assured that the sermon that you heard was conceived as it was delivered! (and thank you)

    You raise something that troubles me, and that I have heard before - this whole 'as a result of human interference' thing. I have no time for this argument and regard it as a typically arrogant human approach to a world built 'for us'. I doubt that any human action could have caused the events in Japan, the floods in Australia, the earthquakes in NZ, Haiti and Chile - and so on. They are random, and we are far less able to contend with nature than we think (I believe). I once heard it said that there is a greater mass weight of ants on earth than humans. I still regard nature as far far bigger then us, and when it tires of us, will remind us that we too are just creations like everything else, not the creators.

  3. Tenon Saw. Yes I agree that the Old Testament God appears to be rather different from the New.however, allowing for the variety of sources from which our bible derives, could it be that it says more about the writers/compilers and the beliefs of their various cultures, than portraying a universal concept?

    David. The human interference thing as you call it, is not after all such a very unlikely idea. Just think of the massive impact of testing nuclear bombs. (Thankfully, currently in abeyance). The impact of sending massive rockets into space, space shuttles, under-sea exploration for gas, drilling into the earth's crust for oil and many more such.
    An opinion only, I'm no scientist, but worth a thought?

  4. The good thing, Ray, is that the sermons are encouraging you to think and to address the hard issues of the Christian faith. It's good for preachers to know that people are listening and wrestling with scripture and its relevance in modern life.