We have had quite some rain recently. After a fierce storm, I discovered that the manse roof had a cracked tile. Actually, the plumber discovered this. What I found was water dripping from above in an upstairs bedroom. Storms are supposed to stay outside!
Fortunately the damage was not severe and easily fixed. The problem for the manse was minor compared with what many homes and properties suffered. For me, though, the saddest story was a picture published on the front page of The Advertiser, of a koala perched precariously on a fence post, trees far away, and water swirling all around. The poor beast was thoroughly soaked, fur matted with water, ear hair drooping, and a forlorn expression on its face, as if to say “What now?”
I have an ambivalent attitude to storms. I find them fascinating to experience, when I am comfortably inside a building, looking out through the glass, watching the rain fall with abandon bouncing off the ground, with occasional flashes of lightning and thunder, all while I remain quite dry. Catch me outside, though, and I am the first to scurry for cover, miserably moaning and dripping, feeling worse than that koala.
We talk about God as creator of the world but tend to overlook that this means that God created storms as well as sunsets and kookaburras. Snowflakes are easier to think about. Their geometric regularity suggests that there is a good scientific explanation for their shape, something to do with the properties of water. Or we can imagine God, the engineer, pulling out the blueprints of a snowflake. Storms are more irregular, far messier.
Yet, a creator exercises creativity. So let’s move from a scientific image and explanation to something more artistic. Can you imagine God, with magnifying spectacles, hunched over a workbench, meticulously carving each unique snowflake and delighting in each finished product? What about a storm? God in an apron, mixing up a storm, tossing in rain, a pinch of hail, stirring in the wind, throwing the mixture into the air and then admiring the outcome? Creativity is not dull repetition. Creativity suggests the introduction of something new and different.
Back to that poor koala, caught in the storm. Sometimes we feel like that bedraggled beast. We find ourselves caught in the storm in our life, when all is a swirling messiness around us and we are dazed, clinging to our small fencepost, wondering about “what next?” In those times, the recipe of a storm does not taste so good.
Yet, if we have a Creator exercising creativity, then within each storm lies something new. I wonder if that is the more troubling part of the storms of life – not the chaos around us, but the uncertainty as to what will come after them. “New” implies the old is passing, what will take its place is as yet unknown, and uncertainty can be stressful, scary.
Sometimes, all we can manage in such a storm is to cling to our trust in God – like the koala clinging to the post – and remind ourselves, over and over, that God cares for us and that what lies on the other side of the storm, even though we can’t imagine it, will ultimately be good.
We remember that two thousand years ago, there was another big storm, one surrounding the life of Christ. In that storm, all the blueprints of the culture were thrown away – all the divisions that made the society work, between clean and unclean, rich and poor, inferior and superior, believer and sceptic, elite and outcast, were shown to be secondary to the unity of God’s inclusive love. The model of a society held in balance by forces in opposition, was replaced by one which was a network of inclusion (the Kingdom of God, the community of divine love). We are part of that new model. This is the source of our hope when we are in a storm.
However, it is more than that. Creation is not a one-time event. God is still creating. So much of the world still operates on the old model. We are called to live according to the new model. This is not an easy task. In fact, it is likely to cause storms for us, as it did for Jesus.
How do we, at Scots on this corner of the city, live according to the new model? How should we love God and serve God, and love and serve neighbours? That’s worth pondering anew, as we approach Stewardship Sunday on 9th October.
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
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