Skip to main content

Isaiah and the emoticons

Isaiah 40:21-31

The Prophet reminds us of all the different feelings we experience when we think about our world. If we were to think it’s only here by chance, or by accident, then we would just have to take what comes - the rough with the smooth. But if we think the world is here because God set the universe in motion and gave it the potential to evolve the way it has done over billions of years, then the feelings we are likely to have could be very mixed.

As the Prophet says, we might feel surprise - surprise that, compared to the vastness of the galaxies, we matter to God at all.

We might feel worried or puzzled at the immense changes that happen each year, which can sweep politicians and chief executives away like straw being blown about in a storm, or carry off towns and cities. Why does God allow these things to happen? Are they part of a plan, or are they just chance events brought about by the coming together of lots of different causes?

When we look at the immense beauty of the world, and the universe beyond, we might just feel like rejoicing and being glad. When bad things happen, and we wonder why, we might feel glum, or even angry with God for letting things go wrong. Ad when we’re tired, we might fee down-hearted.

But in the end, the Prophet thinks that if we believe in God the strongest and most enduring feeling we will have is trust. Whatever happens, and whether we can explain it or not, we will trust that the world is basically good and God cares for us and wants the best for us.


Popular posts from this blog

I don't believe in an interventionist God

Matthew 28.1-10, 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 I like Nick Cave’s song because of its audacious first line: ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God’. What an unlikely way to begin a love song! He once explained that he wrote the song while sitting at the back of an Anglican church where he had gone with his wife Susie, who presumably does believe in an interventionist God - at least that’s what the song says. Actually Cave has always been very interested in religion. Sometimes he calls himself a Christian, sometimes he doesn’t, depending on how the mood takes him. He once said, ‘I believe in God in spite of religion, not because of it.’ But his lyrics often include religious themes and he has also said that any true love song is a song for God. So maybe it’s no coincidence that he began this song in such an unlikely way, although he says the inspiration came to him during the sermon. The vicar was droning on about something when the first line of the song just popped into his head. I suspect …

Why are good people tempted to do wrong?

Deuteronomy 30.15-20, Psalm 119.1-8, 1 Corinthians 3.1-4, Matthew 5.21-37 Why are good people tempted to do wrong? Sometimes we just fall from the straight and narrow and do mean, selfish or spiteful things. But sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re still good people even though we’re doing something wrong. We tell ourselves that there are some people whose motives are totally wicked or self-regarding: criminals, liars, cheats, two-timers, fraudsters, and so on, but we are not that kind of person. We’re basically good people who just indulge in an occasional misdemeanour. So, for example, there’s Noble Cause Corruption, a phrase first coined apparently in 1992 to explain why police officers, judges, politicians, managers, teachers, social workers and so on sometimes get sucked into justifying actions which are really totally wrong, but on the grounds that they are doing them for a very good reason. A famous instance of noble cause corruption is the statement, by the late Lord Denni…

Giotto’s Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds

John 1.10-18
In the week before Christmas the BBC broadcast a modern version of The Nativity which attempted to retell the story with as much psychological realism as possible. So, for instance, viewers saw how Mary, and Joseph especially, struggled with their feelings.

But telling the story of Jesus with psychological realism is not a new idea. It has a long tradition going back seven hundred years to the time of the Italian artist Giotto di Bondone. This nativity scene was painted in a church in Padua in about 1305. Much imitated it is one of the first attempts at psychological realism in Christian art. And what a wonderful first attempt it is - a work of genius, in fact!

Whereas previously Mary and the Baby Jesus had been depicted facing outwards, or looking at their visitors, with beatific expressions fixed on their faces, Giotto dares to show them staring intently into one another’s eyes, bonding like any mother and newborn baby. Joseph, in contrast, is not looking on with quiet app…