The powerful love of God: a reflection on this morning’s service
At today’s Livestream service we were thinking about ‘the transfiguration’ (you can read about it in Mark 9:2-9) when the dazzling wonder of Jesus deepest identity was revealed to the startled eyes of three of his friends.
Duncan also quoted two modern writers who reflected on the immense power of God. Aslan, the great Lion, the Christ-figure in C. S. lewis’s Narnia Chronicles isn’t ‘safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’ And Annie Dillard likened worshippers at church to kids playing with their chemistry set – the chemicals have great dynamic potential, but the children don’t realise it. ‘Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke’ in our church services, she asks.
We imagine displays of God’s power as dramatic and explosive – like the fire and tongues and the rushing wind which came upon Jesus’s followers at the first Pentecost. Clearly, God is powerful beyond our imaginings. The sum of all the immense forces at work in the cosmos makes just the tiniest fraction of God’s immense power (though it doesn’t make sense to speak of fractions of infinity!) The whole universe, both the beauty and the wildness of it is an expression of God’s creative energy.
To see the power of God at work, all we need to do is to look around us and remember that from God’s perspective there is no distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural.
When it comes to God’s relationship with us, for the most part God’s power comes to us in gentleness. The glory is concealed, as Jesus glory was hidden from his followers apart from in the transfiguration event we are thinking about, hidden yet visible in his love, decisiveness, healing gift.
This morning, Shona gave a brilliant children’s talk about one of the characters to bear the name St Valentine. This 3rd-century believer faced the death sentenced for refusing to obey the Roman authorities by worshipping Roman deities. In prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who had no sight. Reaching through the bars, as Shona movingly told us, he touched her eyelids; they opened, and she saw the face of the man she had grown to loved.
There is power in the story of Valentine. The power to stand firm, refusing to compromise; power working in a girl’s body as Valentine touches her eyes; power that makes love blossom in a desert experience. And the source of that power is not Valentine’s resolve, but the presence within him of God’s power.
Every day, the power of God is seen not just in the drama of creation, or in the dramatic displays which are sometimes experienced, but in quiet and unexpected ways. Duncan spoke this morning of longing for spring – and I share his lack of affection for the cold depths of winter! But already spring is stirring, a long slow awakening to life in an immense display of power yet gentle and gradual.
In the same way, lives are drawn from winter to spring; challenges are overcoming; darkness banished by light; despair transformed into hope; fear driven out by confidence; broken lives restored.
Aslan is on the move! The slow, loving dynamite of God’s grace is active in our lives, our communities, our world. We can pray this week that we may see the glory present in our world and our lives and our circumstances, so that we may acknowledge the power ‘we blithely invoke’ and say ‘Yes!’ to the grace of God wherever we see it, in all its wildness and goodness. We can pray that fingers may touch our eyelids, that our eyes might open to the face of the man we have grown to love.