Where was God in LA? Some personal thoughts from John on Iain’s sermon

LA Shooting

A personal thought from John

A lovely, thoughtful sermon from Iain, with lots of things to think about!

This question, ‘Does God reign’ troubles us all as we face personal crises, and see disasters and tragedies like the mass-shooting at LA. If God is love, and God is all powerful, then why does God do nothing to prevent bad stuff happening?

Jesus said ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ (Matthew 10:29-30) It seems that God cares for the sparrow, yet does not intervene when tragedy strikes it. Do the following sentences mean that while God does not intervene to protect is from tragedy, nevertheless we can rest in the divine presence even in tragedy? After all, in verse 28, Jesus has told his followers not to be afraid of those who ‘kill the body.’

In Jesus God reveals himself in one of us, a human being, physically frail. Even Jesus is not protected from the tragedy of crucifixion and agony.  It seems that for whatever unfathomable reason God’s response to tragedy is not to prevent it happening, but to enter into it fully with us, to suffer with us and in us, to feel our pain and weep our tears.

Where was God in LA? God was in the crowds feeling the fear; feeling the pain of the bullets tearing flesh; God is in the tears of all who suffer; God is the only one who knows truly what we are feeling, because his heart shares our pain.

And yes, as Iain said, God is also there in every movement of love and support, courage and hope among those in LA.

Jesus hangs on the cross of the world and experiences our pain. And one day Love’s victory will be seen by all as an aching world passes through death into a new and eternal life.

As we journey through dark valleys, we need courage and grace to hold on to the Fellow Traveller who walks every step of the way with us, and suffers with us.

And these words from Jesus about his being the ‘bread of life’ are wonderful. Jesus is calling us to connectedness to him, so that his nourishment can flow ceaselessly into our lives, prompting us, sustaining us, expressing love for us. It’s not that the nourishment produces life: rather the nourishment is life. In Jesus, the life of God is expressed in and through us.

And how do we find this life, how do we receive this bread? How do we feel this river of life within us?

The answer is ‘just come’, but ‘just coming’ is not necessarily easy. Each of us will experience this in a different way. ‘Just coming’ will involve stillness, openness to God, longing for God, reflection on the Bible. It will involve coming ‘as we are’ convinced that we are loved totally as we are, despite the mess of our lives, and saying in wonder ‘Thank you that you love me!’  It will involve us acknowledging the other routes we have tried to find significance and meaning, and a willingness to turn to God as the fundamental source of all life.’  But no book can tell us how to find God; no programme of spiritual routines (though books and routines can be helpful.) Just be still, be open, seek the Father, seek water from the well deep within. The Father seeks each one of us as he calls the whole universe to the oneness of love.

Just come, as you are.

The feast is ready to begin!

Bread from heaven


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