The question should be what is that reader reading?
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Don’t’ you really admire inventors who to put their lives on the line for their idea. This was certainly the case for two staunchly Christian brothers. They were of course Orville and Wilbur Wright. For these two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers are credited with inventing the world’s first successful aeroplane. Whilst some dispute this, certainly they are believed to have made he first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.
This was on 17 December 1903, it lasted 12 seconds and the aircraft with Orville on board got a mere 120 feet. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is – for Orville and on the next 3 flights Wilbur could have been killed or seriously injured.
However such faith did not come quickly or easily. Since the brothers started their leap into the unknown when they gained the mechanical skills by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. From 1900 until their first powered flights 3 years later, they conducted extensive glider tests.They even built a small wind tunnel to gather more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design more efficient wings and propellers.
Put another way, invention like faith is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration and a dash of panache for good measure!
Here then is a reminder of how we deal with faith in our lives.
For if recently that flame has burned low or you feel a bit distant from God then remember to make the effort to phone home.
Remember to look persistently for Christ’s presence in your lives.
Remember like all relationships, it takes elbow grease to keeping it working.
Yet even more important, it really does help, also to go flying with it.
Since there is no greater builder of certainty than actually doing something novel, exhilarating even risky only in trust.
Lord God, we give thanks for the many gifts
You shower into our lives
Not least the music, books & art that we enjoy.
But we particularly give thanks for the wonderful world around us.
May its majesty always remind us of you.
However, we are not always beautiful
and creative in how we deal with others.
But in Jesus, you always recognised
people rather than stereotypes;
Challenge us thenwhen we treat other people as commodities,
When through our lifestyles we use, humiliate,
or rob others of their self-worth.
Give us the humility to recognise
how much we need to seek forgiveness for,
And as forgiven people,
to lead lives of extravagant love, gratitude, hospitality and service.
Indeed help us always to glimpse your glory now,
Wherever injustice is resisted
And support is extended to those
Who are grief-stricken and destitute.
Above all else, we ask for your blessing
on all who are shunned by society,
And on all who respect and value the dignity of their neighbour.
We have all seen them. It the headline on the tabloids – Man plays God. And usually this purple prose accompanies some breakthrough in medicine or biology. Take the latest such utterance. It was when scientists recently copied some DNA from one cell and replaced into another. Personally, I am not sure that a Chinese copy of a Rembrandt makes it a Rembrandt. Yet the newspapers and news channels blared out their siren warning of Armageddon – Man plays God.
Now whilst we humans have neither right nor probably any realistic chance of playing God, can we in any way help God? Do we have a part to play in his creativity? And the answer is – yes we can. For scripture, carefully read and with an open mind, does say that humans are called to help God in his creation. In fact, they called to be co-creators. And it is this opportunity and responsibility which form the gift of God we will look at today; the gift of being creative as part of divine creativeness.
Many years ago, I heard of a famous Scottish preacher who, on the day of his ordination, had his much cherished piano removed from his home. That was in case it became a distraction from his ministry. I always find that a bit sad. For surely, we easily glimpse the hand of God in a Mozart concerto or in a Michelangelo painting or just in a beautifully fiery sunset. Because in encountering true beauty just as much as with real goodness we should feel closer to God; we should feel inheritors of something of his creative gift; we should start to understand the wonderfully generous gift of being imaginative daughters and sons of God.
Let us then go about our daily routine more carefully looking for created beauty; let us more often allow our minds to be enlivened by anything made wonderfully; let us never forget to worship God when we find something created with God’s glory in mind . Moreover, let us never stop opening our hearts to the magnificence of divine creativity. For Moira Lipmann’s husband, the playwright Jack Leventhal, said just before his death when being wheeled through a park – look – it’s all so wonderful.
It’s amazing how often we forget the many traditions of our own homeland. Other times we just take them for granted. That is until someone from abroad reminds us of them. And so it was when I read the writings of an American recently. For, he was telling of how the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom allows us to track the Queen around her realm. Because when the Queen is at Windsor Castle or Balmoral, the Royal standard flutters overhead. When she is in Buckingham Palace or Holyrood the Royal Standard flies brightly in the wind. But when she is not in residence, the Royal Standard is replaced by either the Union Jack or Royal Standard of Scotland.
The UK’s Royal Standard then is a sign of the monarch’s presence. And so it is when we too are genuinely creative. For no matter what we attempt, if we make or do something in God’s honour, then he we will make it into a thing of real beauty. For, whether it is great or small, proud or humble, well or rudely made, it will point to God. It will also confirm our kinship with God and it will ‘signpost’ his valuing of us. May then all that we create, be done in his name and in heart-felt thanks for his creativity of ourselves, his world and his son who offers us eternal life.
Oh we say – that’s all very fine – but I can’t make anything at all –I cannot sing or play an instrument or paint a picture. Where then can I show I am a co-creator for God? Well, we can always create things that are intangible; things like peace and security and justice. We can always reconcile, comfort and advise. We can all make life better for our fellow heirs of creation and siblings in Christ. Since these are the greatest creations that honour God.
And the reason for their supreme loveliness is that they truly reflect what Paul wrote:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ. You are a son or daughter of the living God.
Because when we do create a genuinely handsome world for those who have not seen beauty but only hardship, then we do release the possibility of creativity in them as well. We do allow them to see God’s creativity in things beautifully made. Indeed, we show what it means to be co-creators of God’s creation which honours humans to the degree recorded by the psalmist when he asked:
What is man that you are mindful of him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
And crowned hum with glory and honour.
On Monday we took ourselves off to visit Kellie castle outside Pittenweem in Fife. Now until it was taken over by the National Trust for Scotland, it was the home of the ultra-artistic Lorimer family. In fact, he last occupant of this medieval pile was the sculptor Hew Lorimer. Indeed, his workshop or studio is still there with an exhibition of his work. However, a display board proclaims that, as a devout Roman Catholic he believed not that an artistic creation was an expression the individual but was a gift from God. Since he is then quoted as saying:
I came to see that human imagination is not paramount in the creative process; that what is paramount in the creation is he who created it. That which the artist is expressing is not himself but his response to the eternal process of creation.
May then is day and all the days to follow we be aware of the gift of creativity. May we be aware of the responsibilities of being a co-creator. And may we never fail to respond to God’s creation of ourselves. For then, the whole world is our canvas, the whole family of God is our score and the whole future is our play of delight.
What music makes our hearts sing?
What music opens us up inside?
What music enables friendship for us
We do not know
Yet we recognise it when it is there
And when it is here.
Let us pray
You are the creator
Indeed you are the very first artist
The first writer and the first composer.
For, Lord you are the craftsman
who shaped each of us wonderfully
Shaped this church beautifully
And you shaped the world around us
Therefore we pray for ourselves, our Church family
And the Christian community across the globe.
May it be a welcoming place for all
So that in word, song and music
We may know your son’s companionship
We may know the joy of worshipping you
And we may know your power and glory and love
In everything we do.