God’s Gift of Perspective

September 22, 2019

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Preached by Canon Andy Trenier, using Ezra 1 and John 7: 14-36 at Mattins on Sunday 22nd Setpmber 2019, the 14th Sunday after Trinity.

Mithredeth’s got a new job.  Counting and collecting brass, silver, and gold.

And it appears that the inevitable information overload has got the better of him poor chap.

(If you do the sums you will see that he has rather inflated the contents of his new Sacristy…)

Sadly scripture does not record what happened when the Dean

(…I mean High Priest)…

can’t find the gold bowls which were never there to begin with!

As you can imagine – I sympathise with Mithredeth. When you are given a new and significant task- as I have this week-

It can be hard to get the proper perspective.

There is that sense of being so close  to all the new information that you can’t see the wood for the trees.

A sense that is often at the heart of the miscalculations of the characters of our biblical inheritance – and, indeed, a sense that any of us might recognise as familiar in our own experience. When was the last time you lacked perspective?

It might be said that our lack of proper perspective is at the heart of the human condition.   In the the Hitchhikers guide Douglas Adams says:

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well,

on the surface of a gas covered planet

going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away

and think this to be normal is obviously some indication

of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”

He is right.   Perspective is important to thrive within the human condition.

The Birds eye view turns a blizzard into a breeze.

And lest this turn into a Self-Help seminar let me also say this –

Proper Perspective is also a gift from God.

Proper perspective is a Christian necessity

and indeed, I would go so far as to say,

that the ‘elevation and transformation of our perspective’

is a very large part of our sanctification.

To take a very important example:  EMPAYOUR

EmpaYour– the root of kindness and respect-

and something so needed in our corporate life together as church and nation –

begins with a shift in perspective:

EmpaYour begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective.

In the NT Lesson we observe Jesus’ frustration at the LACK of perspective in his followers as he asks them, in essence:

CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

The question is asked:

‘How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?’

And John has Jesus answer that it is because he has proper perspective.

I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me”

He is looking to another and sees the world from another point of view.

Not by appearances does he judge the world

But in with right judgment, learned from the Father.

Of course the gospel of John goes further

And presents Jesus himself as the answer to that question

The ICON of the invisible God

And the person, in whom, if we will place our ‘selves’,

We can find that saving perspective, which is the gift of God.

We may ‘live at the bottom of a deep gravity well,

 on the surface of a gas covered planet

 going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away’

nevertheless says St Paul- that by taking on the MIND of CHRIST.

and by clothing ourselves with his ‘perspective’,

we might overcome our narrow-mindedness

see clearly and truthfully for ourselves, and say with Christ:

I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me”

Some questions:

What would that be like, do you think?

What difference might that make for you today?

And-  how do we get there exactly?

Well, The first two questions you will have to answer for yourselves

As for the ‘HOW?’  this, Mithredeth- your new Precentor- can help a little….

Indeed, I think that is my job.

The proven method of getting perspective in the Christian life, of knowing the Mind of Christ, is by participating in Divine Worship (especially the daily offices- through which we elevate our thoughts, fix our reference points, and situate our lives in a wider, larger story).

But pre-eminently through the Sacraments- through which we participate in Christ Himself- and through those mysteries- become joined to the life God.

“A habit of devout fellowship with God is the spring of all our life, and the strength of it”, said Henry Edward Manning many years ago.

I should offer fair warning.

The wood we are invited to see Is the Holy Cross-

And the rood screen our lens in life.

Aristotle was quite – “To perceive may be to suffer”

Nevertheless for all ‘whose spirit God had stirred’

New mercies, new Love, new provision will be given.

And to those who ask in humility

God’s gift of His perspective in every common task will be liberally dispensed.

AMEN