Daily Devotion 30 March 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.
Acts 17:29-31 ‘Paul Preaches in Athens’

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

Do you recognize these two famous footballers from their statues? Have a good, long hard look… it took me a while too! (Give yourself five minutes, and then cheat and look at the answers at the bottom of this page!).

Paul is in Athens, preaching, proclaiming, and is dismayed at the number of statues to the Greek Gods littering the city. Zeus, Athena, Poseidon and the rest are all over, receiving worship and sacrifices and devotion. Paul is not just bemused by the statues of those around him, but seems even to be confused by what he sees. For Paul, God is far greater than anything humans can conceive. God is more powerful, more glorious, more loving, more merciful, more compassionate, more gracious…greater than any human mind could conceive. So why make a statue which seems to limit God, reduce God to something so much smaller, weaker, than God is? Why have something that is nowhere nearer the real deal?

In this sermon, Paul preaches repentance – all humanity should recognize the way in which we make God too small, limit his love, try and assume that know all God’s ways. But Paul doesn’t just criticise the Athenians or tell them off. He reminds them that with repentance comes God’s assurance of continuing love and mercy in Jesus Christ.
In these days when things may seem overwhelming, let’s never forget that God is greater than we can imagine, and whose love for us is already complete. In uncertainty, we rest in God’s love and care because of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus showed us a glimpse of just how great God is, and what perfect love is really like.

Perfect God,
in whom there is no weakness, no fatigue, no blemish, no limit of love.
Grant that, by the power of your Holy Spirit, we may never reduce your greatness,
forget your compassion, or take for granted your mercy.
May we celebrate your goodness, and reflect your great love in our world. Amen.

P.S. The first one is a statue of Cristiano Ronaldo, in the airport in Funchal, Madeira; the second is none other than the great George Best, at Windsor Park in Belfast. Well, I couldn’t do better.

Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
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