22 Oct 2017
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

15 Oct 2017
This Too Shall Pass

8 Oct 2017
The Simple Truth: Head, Heart and Hands

1 Oct 2017
Humility – Staying close to the ground

2 Jul 2017
Welcoming the Silence

25 Jun 2017
Always Uniting…

18 Jun 2017
Are you ready for harvest?

11 Jun 2017
Don’t Blame it on the Snake

4 Jun 2017
Words Beyond Words: Breath Beyond Breath

28 May 2017
Seeing with new eyes

14 May 2017
Grace, Gracious and Graceful

30 Apr 2017
A Time for war and a time for peace

23 Apr 2017
Faithful Doubting

16 Apr 2017
God became human so that we could become divine!

12 Mar 2017
Wind of the Spirit

12 Feb 2017
From the Mountainside: The Impossible Dream?

22 Jan 2017
Grounding our Life and Faith

25 Dec 2016
That Humanity should become Divine

11 Dec 2016
Joy is for Everyone

4 Dec 2016
The Mingling of Water and Spirit

27 Nov 2016
Living Fully in the Present Moment

16 Oct 2016
Persistence and Justice

9 Oct 2016
Gratitude and Thankfulness

2 Oct 2016
Standing in the Tragic Gap

25 Sep 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man

4 Sep 2016
The Gift of Freedom

21 Aug 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

14 Aug 2016
We all need wise words to live by

31 Jul 2016
When Less is More

24 Jul 2016
Developing Healthy Relationships

17 Jul 2016
Died Wise

10 Jul 2016
Meeting Strangers on the Road

3 Jul 2016
On the Road Again

29 May 2016
Faith is the Answer

22 May 2016
The Way of Wisdom

15 May 2016
Icons and Stained Glass Windows – Inner light

8 May 2016
Unity and Oneness

1 May 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

24 Apr 2016
Lest we forget: What?

17 Apr 2016
God became human so that we could become divine!

3 Apr 2016
Thank God for St Thomas!

27 Mar 2016
Living life’s great contradictions

20 Mar 2016
Message of Peace

13 Mar 2016
Living Fully, Loving Wastefully

6 Mar 2016
Come Home, all is forgiven

28 Feb 2016
Simply, leave it alone

21 Feb 2016
Why do we “kill” our prophets?

7 Feb 2016
Keeping your Head in the Clouds

Sermons

God became human so that we could become divine!

17 April, 2016 Easter 4 By Rev Dr Christopher Page


"The Word of God became human so that we may learn from a man how
all humanity may become God." Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)


God became human so that we could become divine!

(Quote by Fr Athanasius 298–373)

 

Introduction:    
There was a memorial service in the church this week for Grahame Green.  Many will know Grahame and Grahame’s wife Josi.  Like most funeral services, or services of thanksgiving and in Grahame’s case a memorial service, they are times where there is a mingling of joy and sorrow.  Joy because of the memories one has of a loved one and the sorrow in saying goodbye to that person.  Both emotions are important at this significant time in our lives of those who gather.

As I said on Wednesday and as I have said before, for me the central message of the Christian faith comes in the words of Jesus, “I have come that you may have life and life in all its fullness.”  Or as many of us grew up saying, “life abundantly.”  Now that could be interpreted as saying that the purpose of the Christian faith is to have a perfect life, or a life filled exclusively with love, hope, faith, joy, happiness, health, wealth and cupcakes and cream pies…. But with a small amount of reflection we all know that that is not life in all its fullness, it is a fantasy life that, if it does exist, is a poor substitute for a full and abundant life.

No, a full life and a fully lived life is one where there is a mingling of joy and sorrow; hope and despair; health and illness; courage and fear; and the “trick” to living a full life is to embrace all that flows through us and reconcile ourselves to living through those times of disillusionment and despair.


Perhaps the great philosopher Dr Suess has something to say here in his book The places you will go:

OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
Who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't,

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

You'll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You'll get mixed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life's
A Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


God and Humanity
Part of the reason we stumble through life - or let me say part of the reason I stumble through life - is that I/we tend to live with the illusion that there is a perfect life that we can live. We can be filled with the “if only”s and the “what if”s of life. There is a passage in Matthew’s gospel that says in the King James Version of the Bible, “Be ye perfect as my Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

In my opinion perfect is an unfortunate word to use.  The passage could be better translated, “Be ye complete as my father in heaven is complete.”  Isn’t that what fullness and abundance is all about?  To have lived a complete life, and let me say: I mean by that, that we have done right and wrong; good and bad; and been a saint and a sinner.  I don’t think there is any life other than that kind of experience.

The second-century theologian St Irenaeus wrote, Gloria Dei est vivens homo! “The glory of God is [man] fully alive.” I have no problem with that because it fits with the central message of the gospel.  And that is that God, the divine, is not separate from humankind, but in fact, the human (and creation as well) flows through the divine and the divine flows through the human like the confluence of two great rivers becoming one.

It is interesting that until the fourth century many in the Christian faith held the view that the central purpose of Jesus’ teaching, his message and his life was to convince people that they were not separate from God.

  • "The Word of God became human so that we may learn from a man how all humanity may become God." ~Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)

  • “God became human so that we could become divine!”  ~Fr Athanasius 298–373)

  • And to take a modern author who puts a different slant on it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-10 April 1955)

But after the Council of Nicaea in 325AD that language began to diminish and only Jesus the Christ could be referred to as both human and divine.  And that is a great pity because when we are able to see ourselves as infused with the divine and embodying it in our humanity, we start to see ourselves and others very differently.

The passage read earlier uses the language of God and Jesus as one, “Let me say this, I am one with the Father.”  But unfortunately in the hands of the philosophers and theologians (and particularly Greek philosophers) those words have a very different outcome when they are spoken by the poets and the mystics.  Even the founder of Western Christianity, Augustine of Hippo, uses the language of love to describe the relationship between humanity and the divine: Deus intimior intimo meo, “God is more intimate to me than I am to myself.”  This removes any separation between God and me.  There is no longer a God out there who is trying to get in here!

Conclusion
So here comes the rub and perhaps the greatest turnabout since the fourth century AD.  When I suffer, God suffers; when I am lonely and disillusioned God participates in that with me; when my desire is forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation, the God in me reaches out to that divine presence in you.  We are all connected not just through our humanity but through our divinity.  And this is an evolutionary process that is working its way throughout our beautiful and terrible world. And is there any other world in which we can live?

To live life fully is to both surrender to and embrace the beauty, the pain and the terror; and then strive toward a reconciliation of these apparent opposites.

I’ll finish with one of the great 20th century paleologists, and Catholic theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who wrote:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability —
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually — let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”

Keep up to date with the latest Toorak Uniting news