Saturday, September 13, 2014

Just for the Joy of It

Here's a link to an audio recording of the Sermon as preached at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday the 14th using these thoughts.

13 September 2014

Dear Friends,

As I write this blog entry, I am sitting at a restaurant at Pearson Airport in Toronto.  I am on my way home after one of the best meeting of the Board of the Anglican Theological Review I have ever experienced as a member of the Board.  Perhaps I enjoyed this meeting so much because it was my first meeting as Editor in Chief.  But it was also a special meeting that was energized by the commitment, imagination and participation of a number of new members of the Board.

Alas, due to the length and intensity of the meeting, I have not had an opportunity to prepare a text for my sermon for tomorrow's celebration of the Feast of the Holy Cross.  But I can share with you the particular thought that has preoccupied my thinking about preaching tomorrow.

In 1 Corinthians 1.18 Paul uses a particular Greek word to describe the wisdom (sophia) of God --- moria.  In the New Revised Standard Version, the wisdom of God is described as being 'foolish' in the minds of the Gentiles.  But I have been intrigued by the translation of moria in the Revised English Bible:  the wisdom of God is a 'folly'.  Since you and I hear Paul's message in English, let's ponder the word 'folly' for a moment.

What is a 'folly'?  A folly can be an undertaking which has little or no chance of success and every chance of spectacular failure.  But another meaning in English is something undertaken for the sheer joy of it.

Is it better to speak of the cross as 'folly' or 'foolishness'?  I am more drawn to 'folly' than I am to 'foolishness' when it comes to speaking of the cross.  What God has accomplished in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth is a folly in both sense I described above.

In the incarnation God has undertaken a mission that has little or no chance of success and evefry chance of failure.  Why is it a folly?  Because it is impossible to under-estimate the human capacity to resist the radical ('from the very roots') vision that God has for the world.  We are threatened by the overturning of what we consider to be fair, to be normal, to be reasonable and, when we are threatened, we react in fear and seek to preserve what we have, sometimes at all costs.

So why does God do this?  For folly's sake.  For the joy of glimpsing, if only for a moment, what we can be and what we can do when we are in our right mind.

When we attempt to live our lives in imitation of God's folly, God's logic is incomprehensible to the majority of our social and cultural contemporaries.  Why would a small parish such as ours give away 34% of its income, whether in actual dollars or in the time of its paid staff?  For the sheer joy of it.  Why would we concern ourselves with those who are hungry or homeless or hurt?  For the sheer joy of it.

Notice that I using the word 'joy' not 'happiness'.  Happiness is a transient emotion, coming and going with winds of prosperity and the winds of adversity.  But joy, the deep-seated awareness that one is being truly oneself and doing something that participates in God's restoring the world and its creatures to right relationship, joy may feel these winds, but is not swayed by them.

So, my friends, these are my thoughts for tomorrow.  I hope that I can translate them into a message that builds up the congregation I have been given to tend.  I wish you all well as you undertake the same work for your communities.  May my moria stimulate your sophia.

In Christ,


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