We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
h, my friends, this has been a weekend where creation has groaned. It was a weekend of great joy, filled with pageantry and crowds, with dresses and fancy cars, of young women and young men caught up in a cultural institution and celebration. I am speaking, of course, of the junior prom at RHAM high school.
The daughter of our neighbors, a young woman whom Matt and I have watched grow up, gathered together with her best friends and their dates in the front yard as they struck various poses while the many parents gathered around with cameras to catch the special moment. Then, they all crowded together into a limo, which was parked out front, and off they went, to what I can only hope was a truly wonderful evening. Also, there was a wedding for a nice couple that took place this weekend. Perhaps you heard about it.
It was also a weekend filled with great tragedy, as yet another mass shooting took place at Santa Fe High School in Texas. This comes right on the heel of another attempted school shooting, which was prevented by a police officer on duty at the school, and in the same year as the shooting in Parkland, Florida. As the Washington Post reported on Friday, so far this year, more school children have been killed than service members in our military. And as reports of each new school shooting come in, along with the litany of thoughts and prayers from politicians who lack the moral courage and backbone to actually do something about this national crisis, we become increasingly overwhelmed by the horror and brokenness in our world.
It has been a mixed up and jumbled weekend. It has been a weekend marked by stark juxtapositions. The juxtaposition of a young woman celebrating prom with her friends even as reports came in of the many young people who would never see their prom, never graduate, cut short on the verge of their journey through life. The juxtaposition of pictures of and commentary about Meghan Markle’s wedding dress and the pictures and commentary of the t-shirts worn by the young man who opened fire on his classmates. The juxtaposition of life, celebration, and joy with death, grief, and tragedy is enough to make each of us groan. It is enough to make creation groan.
We groan my friends, because we know that this is not the way it is supposed to be. Creation groans my friends, because when God spoke it into being out of chaos and nothingness, it was not for this.
We know this because Christ became incarnate among us. We know this because in the life and ministry of Jesus, in his death and resurrection, and in his ascension, we have seen the kingdom God is creating. We know this because we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit leads us in all truth, and reveals to us the promise that God is creating the world anew.
We know that this is not the way that we are meant to be. We know that this is not the way the world is meant to be. Oh, can you imagine if we did not know this? Can you imagine if we lived in a world without hope, where routine mass shootings were simply accepted as an inevitable, unpreventable occurrence? Can you imagine if we lived in a world without compassion, where hatred in all its forms was treated as nothing less than a valid and acceptable political worldview? Can you imagine if we lived in a world without a moral bearing, where poverty and massive income inequality were simply seen as the natural outcome of a healthy economy?
But that is not the world we live in. God pours the Holy Spirit out upon us, and we have seen creation as God intended it. God pours the Spirit out upon us and we know that our brokenness can be made whole. God pours the Spirit out upon us and it has whispered to us God’s promise of a new creation.
So, my friends, we groan. The Holy Spirit groans within us. For we exist in the juxtaposition of the brokenness of our world and the Kingdom of God; we exist in the painful juxtaposition between what is and what God is creating.
But, you know what? That is where faith exists. Faith exists in the juxtaposition. Faith exists between what is and what is becoming. For it is through faith that we are able to see the world as it really is, filled with beauty, possibility, horror, and brokenness. And it is through faith that we find the assurance that God has not abandoned us to our brokenness, the assurance that God is still creating, still unfolding creation toward its perfection. It is by faith that we know that God is not done with the world; indeed, God is still actively working in the world.
We have faith because God is pouring the Holy Spirit out upon us, and it is not just us. God is pouring the Spirit out upon the whole Church. God is pouring out the Spirit upon the church and our sons and daughter will prophesy. God is pouring out the Spirit upon us, and the young shall have visions and the elderly shall dream dreams of the Kingdom of God.
God is pouring the Spirit upon us, and it is driving us out into the world to proclaim the Good News, that we no longer shall live as those without hope. To proclaim the offering of God’s wholeness to the brokenness of the world, God’s forgiveness to the sins of humanity, and God’s promise to the despair of our hearts that the current state of things is not as they will always be.
God pours the Spirit upon us to drive us out into the world, but there is more! God has already gone before us to all the places God desires us to go. God has already gone out into the world before us that we might seek God there. My friends, God desires us to go into the world, seeking God in conversations with neighbors and strangers, in conversations with communities and neighborhoods, in conversations with forests and sidewalks.
We will find God. We will find God in the places of our world where the fallenness of creation intersects with the Kingdom of God. We will find God wherever the despair of human brokenness intersects with the breath of new creation. We will find God wherever the cross of Jesus Christ intersects with the empty tomb.
We will find God my friends. We will find God because God has already gone out before us. We will find God, for God seeks to be found.
Preached by Adam Yates