Reading(s): Genesis 1. This sermon was given by Canon John Reynolds at St Mark's, Ampfield.
Fifty years ago in 1971 Apollo 15 took off for a trip to the moon. The flight commander was James Irwin. Soon against the blackness of space he saw this wonderful colourful sight of blues greens and white and this is how he described what he saw: “I saw the earth hanging there like a fragile and delicate Christmas tree ornament” I have a photograph of what he saw and I promise you, against the sight of other planets, it actually looks lived in and cared for by its Creator. Many stories of creation exist including those to be found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The authors saw their world and asked how it came into existence. What you read is a short explanation poetically expressing the rich abundance of life in all its diversity, governed by invisible laws. It reveals the mind of a loving Creator who shows his continuous involvement in the evolving processes of life.
Today we give thanks to the Divine Creator who has determined the world’s harvests thereby sustaining all life including all human life. But giving thanks is not enough. Our species has been given the task of being the stewards and carers of life but the truth is we have become takers and seen it as being more important than giving to life in all its diversity. We are supposed as stewards to co-operate with God in the development of HIS intentions for HIS world not only OURS. The creative spirit of God is in the world’s evolutionary thrust and we have been given the intelligence and imagination to join in its development sometimes refining, sometimes correcting, always seeing it in the light of God’s loving purposes for the world and always being open to the influences of the Holy Spirit of God. A good example would be the work of medical research. I was interested to see when he was interviewed, Dr Pollard of the AstraZeneca team when asked if he ever prayed, as it were, alongside his research. Unequivocally he replied, “certainly”.
So yes. At our harvest we should express our gratitude to God but being aware of the responsibility of us all to show respect to our environment come to realise how special it is and the need to show it our love
James Irwin's life would take a special turn after he had he had flown the mission to the moon. Space and that sight of the earth changed him as a person in a way the very complexity and magnitude of it brought him - and many astronauts - to their knees and God became more real to them than ever been before. They found that God revealed himself not only as an amazing Creator God but also a saviour God, a Deliverer opening up life-changing possibilities. They began to look at all things in a different light as the spirit of God illuminated them. What did they mean by a Saviour God? I think I know. That God in His immensity is big enough to do anything including offering forgiveness and therefore freedom from both sin and guilt, and the spirit to adventure into a new kind of service of God, feeling they had the God given equipment to face anything because he offered His spirit to them. No longer would they walk the earth in daily blindness to his reality of truth and love. They felt His spirit within and it was as though life was supercharged with His energy, giving their life new meaning and purpose; giving them intimations that with both life and death the best is yet to come - always. The best is yet to come in the Final Harvest when the sheaves are gathered in and all humanity will experience its final destiny – Heaven!