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Homily at Evensong on the Eighteenth after Trinity: Sunday 20 October 2019

Already thousands of people are coming to see the Museum of the Moon. Apparently we are trending on social media! One of our hopes is that the Moon installation should help people think for a moment, to reflect on what it means to place a scale Moon, inside a cathedral. What does it mean to them? What does God mean to us? If God has in any way made the Moon, made the life we lead, then how does God intervene in human affairs? It is one question of many. But I think if we can learn anything, then the Moon teaches us that God intervenes in human affairs, slowly, steadfastly and with all the time in the world and out of this world.

The saintly Jean Vanier, who died earlier this year, asks this big question. He teaches us that God loves people, his creation, deeply. God hopes, yearns, desires for people to be happy - that people not get caught up in evil. Deep within us there is a longing for God, a longing for the infinite. Those queuing outside to come in may not all be able to articulate this, but that is, in part, why the people come, why they queue outside, because of this deep human longing to know the infinite, and to be loved infinitely.

John 3.16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son’, to embody this love and to become our friend.

Vanier says that God intervenes in human history by calling to each person. God intervenes through every person who is willing to abandon personal gain and ambition in order to give themselves to the bringing together of the world in peace. God’s deepest desire is that we become one in love, one with him and one with each other. God intervenes discretely and respectfully, changing one heart and then another, to realise this magnificent vision. So discreetly in fact, that it began with a birth in a stable, under the light of the moon.

Jesus does not want the earthly or temporal power of a ruling king or political party. Rather, he wants to rule our hearts. He wants us to follow him on the road to love. This is the desire that motivates the movement of peace and unity in humility, rather than systems, or distortions of community and power. God sent Jesus into the world - the incarnation of love, truth, justice, and peace - so that we can know these values intimately and infinitely. God does not always intervene in big ways like we do, with big ideas, big projects or big promises and big words, he intervenes in little ways by the willingness of human beings to grow in the wisdom and the love of God.

God wants each one of us, wherever we are, to intervene in the on-going evolution of our world. This can be through acts of love that break down barriers of fear in others. We should ask God in prayer today, to eliminate in others and in ourselves any seed of hatred or separation that keeps us from loving one another in all God’s glorious diversity. This work of peace happens within us if we are open to it, but we need God’s help. We need God to dwell within us, guiding us toward truth and love. And God longs for us, longs for us to turn to him, to raise our eyes and our hopes, so that he can dwell in us in love.

Let us pray.

God of all beginnings and endings,

your Son declared his kingdom was not of this world.

Bless the governance of every earthly kingdom,

that is may be ruled justly, in spirit and in truth.

Visit your children who live in fear, dwell under oppression,

experience cruelty or suffer discrimination.

Turn struggle into hope, hope to freedom,

freedom into justice and justice into love.

Bring to those who have never known you,

or have forgotten or rejected you,

the light of your grace and the thirst for your mercy;

until your Son comes with the clouds and all eyes will see him

and every tribe and tongue will lift your name on high,

ever one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.


The Very Revd Stephen lake, Dean of Gloucester

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