Saturday, August 28, 2010

C, Pentecost 14 Proper 17 - Proverbs 25:6-7 "Ruling The Roost"

The breeze lifted the feathers. The pigeon pointed its beak into the wind. But unfortunately for this little bird it was not flying. It hung on in terror for only a few seconds but then decided to bail out. The next morning the same thing happened, but this time it was the hiss of the air brakes which caused it to give up its position. This happened every day for a couple of weeks as the owner of the truck got in it for work before sun up, causing the pigeon to evacuate and retreat until the truck returned each night.

The confusing thing for the pigeon was its eggs weren’t hatching. After two weeks of seeing the startled pigeon dash off, the driver thought he should examine from where the pigeon was escaping. And to his surprise he found a nest with two eggs precariously balanced on top of the air tank up against the chassis of the truck. The pigeon had chosen to position itself in a place which was proving to be fruitless.

Then there were another pair of doves who took roost in a safer place. Every day they would come to feed with the other birds at a bird feeder regularly stocked with grain by the gardener who took care of the garden. These doves liked the security of being feed in the garden. They had no reason to travel very far, they ate all they wanted, and life was good. In fact they began to get fat! They ended up chasing all the other birds away. They took the best place, all for themselves.

So good was this environment they decided to build their nest and lay their eggs there. When they did just this, the gardener was not able to feed them for fear of disturbing them from the nest. But after a week he noticed they were gone, without a trace! No doves, no eggs, no nest. And so the garden once again used the bird feeder for what it was intended, and all the other birds returned.

And then there was a chook shed. Six chooks were spared the horrible plight of living as battery hens producing eggs for market. They enjoyed their new life of digging in the dirt, scratching for morsels of food, and enjoying dirt baths in the balmy sun. There was food on hand, a soft nest to lay their eggs, a high fence protecting them from danger, and a secure shed at night to keep them warm, high and dry.

When they first came to the shed they had no idea how to roost. Each night the owner had to lift them onto their perch, teaching them how to roost. Their life was peaceful and carefree for about a year, then there was trouble in the hen house.

Six more chooks were introduced, also saved from the plight of the battery shed. The joy the owner had in bringing the six new hens home was not shared by the other six older residents.

Confrontation was imminent!

There were fights at the feeder, squabbles amongst the scraps, and pecking and picking fights in the pen. And at night the older hens took it on themselves to rule the roost, viscously battering the new hens and frightening them from the perch.

The owner’s action was also imminent!

The offending chooks found themselves in confinement, missing out on food and fellowship with the other hens until they accepted the new hens. Just as they were freely accepted when they were first brought into the new environment!

In these three stories we’ve heard about three different situations surrounding the strange habits of birds. But really they aren’t uncommon to how we act as humans. How our pride determines what we do in order to appear righteous.

We, like chooks squabble to rise up in the pecking order, forgetting how we were originally placed in a privileged position. Or like the doves nesting in the bird feeder in the tree, we misuse the gifts given to us pushing others away, and in the end cutting ourselves from same gift too. Or, like the pigeon nesting under a truck, we reject what is pleasing and conforms to God’s will, and set ourselves up for a life of flight and fear.

In Proverbs 25 we hear… Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. (Proverbs 25:6-7 ESV)

One might ask, what is going through the birds head to do such silly things? One might muse that there’s not much room for thought in the tiny head of a bird! However, for us, what is goes through our heads when we seek to take the best seat, when we hustle our way up the pecking order, or we seek to rule the roost?

It’s surely pride! Do you like to be seen with privilege, having it all together, or perhaps seen as a source of knowledge and authority? It always hurts when we place ourselves on the pedestal only to find ourselves being exposed as less than who we’ve promoted ourselves. In fact all of us know the old saying from bitter experience, pride comes before the fall.

For us who attend church the greatest fall in pride we face is when we deem ourselves blameless through a righteousness of our own. Having been redeemed and made righteous by Christ, saved from the battery of eternal sin like the chook from the hen farm, we are quick to claim that righteousness as our own and then use it to glorify ourselves and put others down.

Or like the doves who build a nest in the wrong spot, we take God’s gift of being able to come and worship him in his presence, receiving eternal healing and forgiveness of sins, and turn his gift into a place where pride gets promoted and others get pummelled with prejudice because of their perceived weaknesses.

Or maybe we just are just too plain stubborn or wish to wallow in self pity to follow God’s will, and therefore put ourselves in a place of fruitless fear, continually running from the reality, we are in the wrong and need correction.

When righteousness goes astray in us we become like simple minded birds. Puffed up with our own importance we take our eye off the one enduring source of righteousness. The righteousness which corrects our ways, calls us to repentance, and focuses us out of ourselves back onto he who is our righteousness.

In fact, even as we hear about such unrighteousness put in the place of true righteousness from God, feelings and desires are provoked in us which make us want to get revenge. And in following these desires and feelings we soon find ourselves acting in the same way as those with whom we are offended.

Thank God that he doesn’t deal with us in the way we would deal with each other. Jesus comes to us and in our presence he takes the lower seat, he takes your cross. This is the place where the lowest of the low stand. And in his royal seat he seats you with his Father in the company of heaven. Where we might even consider taking a low position only to get gain for ourselves, he took the low seat for your gain; he bore the heat and was slain.

Where we might consider the pigeon stupid for building its nest under a truck, God continues to travel with us, protecting us despite the not so wise decision we as humans continue to make.

Or unlike the doves which did the wrong thing and deserve to be wiped out and forgotten about, God never forgets those he has chosen, and he has chosen you. In hearing the Word of God you are chosen.

Or the dim witted chooks who think they rule the roost, and sooner or later, might end up with their heads on the chopping block if they continue to hold their position over others. God took the axe to his Son to bear your punishment.

The message for us is this: God has given us our position, trust not yourself, as if you earned you own salvation. Be honest with yourself and God; continually turning your sin over to him, thanking him daily that he continues to bear you in his nail scarred hands. Be honest and see that in reality if left on your own you are in desperate need – human nature has become the lowest of the low. And trust that he will continue to lift you up and place you back on the perch of perfection in the banquet of heaven.

Don’t look up to see who’s ruling the roost. He who rules the roost is below lifting you up supporting you, showing you why you need his strength and calling you to heed his call to repentance and daily need of forgiveness. Amen.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

C, Pentecost 13 Proper 16 - Psalm 71:5-6 "Pregnant Mummy Tummies"

Pregnant tummies are to be prized. They are the cause of much joy, excitement, and mystery for the expectant parents and family. Pregnant ladies take on a beauty all of their own as God calls them and their husbands into his special role as co-creators; bringing fragile life into a world of great happiness, deep sorrows, enjoyment and frustration, testings, temptations, trials, and times of affirmation, peace and appreciation. Unlike my belly, which is far from pretty, and has come about due to my sinful human nature, the pregnant tummy is a blessing from God.

One only has to be alongside those who yearn to bear children but cannot to know what great a gift it is to be the parent of a life in this world.

God often places many other gifts in the lives of those who can’t bear children, be it because they are called to be celibate and single, or because there is an underlying medical of physiological issue which inhibits them from conceiving and carrying a foetus to full term.

Nevertheless, some still struggle accepting why they have been spared the parental gift of being co-creators of God.

This might be the case because there’s a perception shared amongst those struggling to have children and those with many. The assumption is family is only complete and fulfilled once children are found in the home. But there are a couple of reasons why this is just not true.

The obvious might be testified to by the many parents who know from experience that family often goes in to chaos with children in the picture. Mums of newborns might feel anything but fulfilled when sleep deprivation makes the eyelids feel as though they are going to fall off their faces from tiredness. Or, parents are duly tested by toddlers’ tantrums and defiance at being parented.

But there's a theological reason for wrongly assuming family is only complete once children are born. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he had created husband and wife, and God saw what he had done was not just good, but “very good”! God created family with two, a perfect unity, and children are an addition to what is already good.

Unfortunately, the perfect unity was lost rather quickly, after the first family failed to be faithful to God’s command not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was only after this their first son Cain was born, and ever since the bearing of babies with God’s call to be fruitful and fill the earth, was tempered with the pain of labour, and the ultimate consequences of children fighting — the first murder, with the death of Abel at the hand of Cain.

The reality of having children in utero or in mischief outside the uterus often shows on a mother’s face. The radiance of youth and the freshness of face evident in those first couple of months of pregnancy when a woman’s body seems to glow from conception is soon overtaken by sleepless nights, the waddle walk, the pain of labour, and the tests of time thereafter.

A mother with babies at breast or bottle can be identified most easily as one with a constant dazed tired look on the face as she continues to bear her children long after they’ve left the womb. Added to this, most mums have the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical scars to prove it.

A valuable observation can be gleaned from the mother with baby on board, be it in the tummy or the child-seat in the back of the car. We Christians are the children of God and he continues to bear us and has so since conception; the conception of both creation and us. Like mothers, he also has the scars to prove it.

The Psalmist declares… For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. (Psalm 71:5-6 ESV)

We have to be clear here! We have leaned on God from conception. The different English translations of this verse can miss the mark; most say the Psalmist has leaned on God from birth. But a more accurate reading would have us leaning on God in the womb, from before birth, as the original Hebrew states.

And this makes complete sense when we look at the reality of the relationship between a mother and her child. This relationship does not begin at birth! Both the mother and the child have a relationship that grows from the moment of conception. The foetus cannot exist without the mother, and the mother’s body immediately begins adapting to the presence of this new life, not just physically, but in many other ways too.

When a expectant mother is at the “waddle walk” stage, we might notice the mother rubbing the stomach, feeling the child move – a flutter within. But at times we might see mum holding her hands under the stomach to support it as the strain of the child’s growth stretches muscles and ligaments. It seems the flutters have now turned into a torrent of torturous tossing to and fro. Soon after the walls of the womb give way to the throws of child birth, and the child is seen for the first time face to face.

So too, like a mother, our Lord holds us. He is there with us from conception. The walls of the womb might insulate the child from the world, but not God’s word.

We know newborn babies are comforted by lying on mum – they are familiar with the sounds they once heard while in the womb. And not just the mother’s sounds! A baby in utero is also accustomed to the sounds of salvation, heard in the Word of God, when parents find themselves hearing or speaking aloud, the Word of God.

For we know… the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrew 4:12)

Surely the Word of God does this from the earliest development of our bodies! And we also hear from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians… In him you also (received the inheritance, or, were chosen), when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Therefore, we realise the importance of being in the Father’s presence to hear his word of comfort, just as a child hears and is comforted by the familiar sounds of its mother. In utero we hear not only our mother but also our Heavenly Father who gave us to our earthly mum and dad.

In addition to this God is with us through our lives. Just as our mothers never stop being our mums, God never stops being our Heavenly Father. From youth to old age God seeks to be your God, he wants to love you and care for you, even more than a loving mother.

God tells us in his Word that he is the founder and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), in other words he gives us our being as his children. He, like a pregnant mother, caries and undergirds us, but he also stays with us to the end. To the completion of our faith!

In fact, this completion of our faith is our death. Some think death is the end but it is really the beginning of life. This new life is a reality face to face with God. We who are carried by Christ are in a type of utero in this life, even outside our mother’s womb. At our death we will pass through a birth canal into the eternal light of God’s presence.

At the moment we can only hear his sounds, his Word, yet we trust him and know him as our Heavenly Parent. If we decide while living in the darkness of this womb type world that God is not our Heavenly Parent, and tear ourselves away from his protection, we sever our relationship with God.

Like a mother who loses her baby trough miscarriage, some make a decision to cast off God as a miscarriage of faith. And like a mother who’s lost a child, God too grieves over those who reject his care.

But for you and all who trust their baptism into him, he gives the Holy Spirit as a deposit or as a booster injection, which enables us to keep living as his children until it’s time for us to be taken into the eternal light of his presence.

So it is God’s will that like the Psalmist we too might proclaim… For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. (Psalm 71:5-6 ESV) Amen.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

C, Pentecost 12 Proper 15 - Luke 12:49-51 Hebrews 12:1-4 "All Good Things Are Yet To Come!"

All good things must come to an end. This is the way we view much of our lives.
As children we all look forward to birthdays, and Christmas celebrations with family. But when it’s time to go home sadness, tears, and tantrums take over because the fun is finished, and all the good things have come to an end.
We part company with our cousins, and the festivities, to return to the mundane everyday motions of life. The division causes distress, the fun never seems to last. It’s takes so long to arrive and then in a flash it’s over. Mum and dad are the agents of division and the destroyers of delight. It’s at this time children would rather be separated from mum and dad and reunited in celebration with their cousins.
This type of sentiment doesn’t end in childhood. We carry on through life looking to live for the moment, or we reminisce over the past. We long for things to be the way they were. We get distressed about what the future might bring – failing bodies, loss of loved ones, loss of our independence, and finally loss of life. Are you anxious, uneasy, or distressed about what you are becoming over time?
Jesus was anxious too! He was distressed but not in the way we are about the future. Rather Jesus’ distress occurred because of the present, and all the while his hope was in what the end of his ministry on earth would bring.
So, Jesus laments in a way which is different to us, he says, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:49-51)
Jesus looks forward to finishing what needs to happen. He is torn to the core of his being; he is distressed, until the result is complete. While a quasi superficial peace exists he is distressed. Until the things we perceive to be good come to an end, there is no peace in Jesus’ heart.
Just like a parent taking distressed kids home after a fun filled day, Jesus knows no peace until God’s children are laid to rest, so we might be rested and refreshed through his rest at the cross and in the grave.
See the problem here is as old as there have been parents and children. There is the constant struggle between those who have age, experience, and wisdom on their side verses the young who lack wisdom but have a whole bundle of energy to burn.
We put recreation before both groups asking, “What is recreation?” and get two very different answers. For some the idea of recreation is to go, go, go! Experiencing action is what recreation is all about! But for others recreation takes on a more subdued event of relaxing, sleeping, and resting the body.
For Jesus recreation is somewhere in between! He was distressed and wanted to go, go, go, but this is so he could get to the place where he was placed in perfect rest, completing his work of recreation.
Now this might seem all a bit confusing to us who live in an age where recreation and holidays have lost their original purpose. And we do well to take the word recreation and stick a hyphen in so we hear recreation as re-creation. Our recreation is a time to be recreated or re-created. So too for holidays! Holidays were once holy-days set apart for a very different purpose than what they’ve become today.
To find the function of holidays and days of recreation, the commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy” is as good a place as any to begin. After all the Sabbath is where God rested when he finished creation, and it’s where we’re re-created as we rest in God’s presence. And if it’s good enough for God to rest, perhaps we can enjoy the work God gives us in creation, and rest in him to be re-created and made holy as he is holy.
In the Old Testament the Sabbath begun at sundown on Friday and finished at sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath was a day to be re-created, and it was done by resting in the hearing of God’s Word. And so recreation and holidays flow on in the same vein. We are called to enjoy our work while we have it, and look forward to the holidays and days of recreation, not to glorify ourselves and neglect his Word, but to learn and hear it through teaching and preaching, regarding it as holy and therefore bringing glory to God.
How mixed up we have become in these things today! We lament and are distressed by the work God gives us and then when times come for us to be re-created and made holy, we choose to busy ourselves to the point of exhaustion and distress.
When we need re-creation and holiness, we are blinded by our desire for recreation and happiness, and the holidays and days of recreation become difficult days of uneasiness — and dis-ease!
Recreation is meant to lessen our dis-ease, yet for many their pursuit of recreational activities has become a disease! In fact, our distress from the unholiness and chaos of our search for fulfilment exposes the greatest disease of humanity – our sinfulness.
So as life seems to ebb away we become more and more like children at the end of a day of celebration. We become distressed over what is passing away, rather than being distressed over the fact we have become addicted to death and transient things around us. We want to stay and play, wearing ourselves out to the point where we’re so delirious we’ve lost all sight of what God truly intends for us.
Jesus says his coming has brought fire to the earth rather than peace. And this fire comes not only to the world but to us as well. There’s a division within us; a struggle between who you once was, and into whom you are being re-created.
The Holy Spirit delivers the fiery Holy Word of God into our hearts and the battle begins. Jesus seeks to conquer our unbelief, restlessness, and idolatry. Our hearts are receiving the will of God, and subsequently the distress of Jesus dwells in us until our baptism is made complete at the day of our resurrection after our earthly death.
But the old nature doesn’t die easily; it fights and assails us because Christ is in us. Our human nature would have us believe life is about selfishness now! That peace comes from me being number one! We would be at peace if conflict didn’t occur in us. But the reality is we are not living but dying, and for those who allow God to re-create them in Jesus Christ, they are being made his new creations. But it causes distress within as it divides sinner from saint. Like Jesus we are looking forward distressed until the fire of Christ’s fiery baptism of blood on the cross finishes its work of refinement in us. Then life will really being and death will be a thing of the past.
Jesus’ work of recreation divides not only the new believer from the old Adam within. Jesus also says it divides families and communities. Our sin separated Jesus from his Heavenly Father’s love on the cross. He experienced the full gamut of God’s wrath as a result of taking our addiction to death on himself, so we might be joined with the Father.
There is no shades of grey at the cross, Jesus was completely cut off from life, and experienced death in all its viciousness. And so the division continues to this day. We wrestle and struggle with those who chose the opposite as us. The question is this: Am I upholding God’s holiness and recreation won for me in Jesus’ death, where one day I will be living in eternal peace? Or am I choosing to chase recreation in unholy things forsaking Christ’s work on the cross? There’s now halfway here! Either there’s surrender to Christ or surrender to eternal death. And between the divisions there will be an impenetrable void, impassable for all eternity.
So the reality for you is not that all good things are coming to an end but the truly good things are yet to come! Until death is a thing of the past, there will be times of distress, but at the second coming of Christ, we look forward to perfection and joy. Therefore, we’re encouraged as God’s children not to resist him but to be encouraged by all those who have gone before us bearing the forgiveness and faith of God. And so we hear…
…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4) Amen.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

C, Pentecost 11 Proper 14 - Hebrews 11:1&3 "The Substance of God's Faith"

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1&3 NKJV)
What is faith? From where does faith come? And to where does it lead? In these verses at the beginning of Hebrews 11 faith is connected with the present, the future, and the past. Through faith — the very things that give us our being and our hope in the future — we understand that the universe, all things, were created by God in the past, with his word.
Faith is a very tricky word to define, and even Hebrews 11 is translated in different ways. The NIV renders the verse “Faith is being sure of what we hope for”, and the NRSV translates it as, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for”. But in fact faith is more! Faith is the thing, the substance, the absolute being, the confidence, the essence, the reality, the core, the support or the structure of what we hope for. Faith is the foundation, the boundaries, the way one is motivated, and the freedom from chaos. But for it to be these things it must come from outside of us.
Picture children playing in a sandpit! They build a dam and fill it with water, but before long the walls crumble and disintegrate and the whole thing becomes an unidentifiable mess of watery mud. The boundaries are gone, and the kids end up playing in the muck which is neither water nor sand.
Similarly when creation came to be, there were no boundaries, and God had to separate things with his word to bring order out of chaos and identify what was what.
Humanity is also a creation of God. We were perfectly created but because of our sinful nature we were unidentifiable muck. In fact our being was as filthy as the muck in which we wallowed. The boundaries of our lives were unidentifiable, as we sought to hide in the darkness of the mess. In the murkiness we had no idea of what was the truth. Our reality was confused and chaotic, there was no possibility of knowing who we were, let alone there being any hope.
Just like the earthly creation, we have had our chaos removed, and the boundaries of our being ordered and identified by God. Without God doing this there was no way we would have ever known what faith was, what its source was, or what our substance or being was meant to be.
Ironically at creation God tamed the chaotic mucky waters with his word, placing boundaries between the dirt and seas. But with us he gave us our being as his children when he defined the murkiness of our being, pushing back the tide of sin, and implanting his holy creation in us with his word and the tranquil waters of baptism.
So faith must come from outside of us, and continue to do so. God had to form and still sustains the universe, it didn’t form itself, and so too, he had to form us in the faith, and continues to nourish us with the very things that give us our identity, and being as his children.
These are the very things that place us on a solid foundation, taking away our murkiness of the past so we might look forward with clear confidence and in hope, so we don’t erode and disintegrate in the future. This faith from outside of us is our very being. The faith that comes from God is not ours, but its substance and being, justifies us because of Christ’s death and resurrection.
When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare. To explain it is still difficult, the being and substance of the events in the dream were strange, but when I was a child it frightened me. This reoccurring dream was very real! I had a sense of falling, but I wasn’t. I had a sense of going forward really fast, but in slow motion. I had a sense of panic, confusion and chaos, but all was in darkness, I couldn’t see anything. There was noise but it was silent. A brightness was always just hidden by the darkness. I sensed a claustrophobic closeness, yet there was an eternity of nothing, and I was alone! I was at the centre of this swirling chaos, but everything was out of my control.
On reflection, these days I imagine the dream was a sense of pre-creation chaos, or a felt absence of the Almighty. Then again, perhaps this dream was my murky past coming back to frighten me, confuse me, and shake me with uncertainty in my childhood years.
Perhaps this confusion comes upon all of us when our being in Christ is shaken by the powerlessness of our murky rebellious natures, when we put ourselves at the centre, losing sight of where we’re going, or from where we’ve come. When we view ourselves without the foundation of our baptisms, our creation in Christ, his constant nourishment and forgiveness, and our hope in being raised with him, life would be pretty much, a nightmare.
Without faith continually coming from God, the substance of salvation would not exist. Yet there are many who live in denial of the reality of our need for constant nourishment from God in the means of grace, the things Jesus put in place so we might receive him. Instead we’re tempted to seek faith in feelings or works or understanding, the things that are here today and gone tomorrow into a void of murky nothingness, rather than letting the Holy Spirit give us the substance of Christ to sustain our confidence and hope.
We do well to hear the words just prior to Hebrews 11 and hear how faith only comes to be, because of God’s faithfulness to us through Christ and the Holy Sprit, given to us through the washing of pure water, and through his blood that sustains us in the holiness of our existence.
19 Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a person deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:19-31, 35-39)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1&3)
Just as God brought creation to being by separating the murky waters with his word, he gives us our being by our separation from the murky darkness of death with water and his word. Amen.