Thanksgiving Sunday/Vintage Festival
Sunday April 19, 2015, St Petri
At the proper time
It has been a great week in the Barossa. I made it my business this time around to get around and see the Festival – see the creativity, skills and joy of the people of this Valley. The only dampener for was the dampness as I got more than a little damp on my motorbike on Thursday!
Today we marvel at the skills of human hands, the creativity of our people’s minds and above all, we glory in the truth that all of this has been shaped by and comes from the God of all seasons and time.
All week this display has spoken a message to hundreds of people. We have spoken of hope that in our seasons and times God has his seasons and times.
The message is a call – a call to trust that by faith in Jesus Christ, our seasons and times are re-shaped for the better by a gracious God of all seasons and times.
As I have been looking at this display over the last few days, I have come to recognise that this display views the seasons and times of our lives in two ways.
We see in all that is here that all we know and enjoy is a gift of God’s handiwork. We see that our human lives are so dependent and intertwined with all other created living and non-living things.
Some people have renamed “Thanksgiving Sunday” “Ecosystems Day” as an acknowledgement that ecosystems in which we live make us the beneficiaries of wonderful things by which God sustains us in life…
“…one-third of human food comes from plants that rely on bats, bees, flies, moths, beetles, birds, and butterflies to pollinate them, according to the Ecological Society of America.
Of the top 150 prescription drugs used in the U.S., 118 originate from natural sources. Nine of the top ten drugs come from plants. The ecosystem also moderates weather extremes, disperses seeds, cycles and moves nutrients, purifies air and water, detoxifies and decomposes waste, controls pests, and provides aesthetic beauty”. (https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=1925, Patricia Tull, Professor OT Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Jeffersonville, Indiana)
So, Christians give the thanks and the praise the glory for this marvellous world to God.
However, we know very well that not everyone does this. The dark side of a Vintage Festival or any beautiful thing we create is that we marvel at all this and claim it as our work, our achievement – not a gift but a right, not a thing to be managed well with deep gratitude and humility but a thing to be mastered with power and self-interest and praise.
But now to the second message in this display…
This display is also a sign of God’s time in our time: God’s seasons in and beyond the four seasons; God’s re-ordering of human time and human life for the good. There is an ecological and seasonal year and a church year and both are God’s. One is for the ordering of all people and things for the good of all, and one is for the salvation from sin and evil and the love of all.
This display bears witness not only to God’s goodness in all creation and all creativity, but also to God’s involvement and re-shaping of our seasons and times in his way, in his man, in his plan for the life of this broken world.
1 Timothy 2:1-7
3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
“This has now been witnessed to at the proper time”.
There has come a “proper time”, says the Apostle, when God re-shaped all time – re-created his broken creation – re-made his loved people.
This “proper” time was “kairos” time, as the Bible calls it. “Kairos” time is different from “chronos” time, or normal marking of time. There came a time when it was the right time, the best time, the complete time, the proper time that needed to be seized, needed to be grabbed at and held on to. That time was in the giving of the Saviour to redeem all creation and time and seasons by his own shed blood.
By his death new creation began and by his resurrection dead human beings are made whole, made new, re-calibrated for God’s new time in his new covenant of grace.
So, the call goes out today from the Lord of all time and all seasons in life, “There is one mediator between God and humankind, the man, the Messiah Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people”.
Why so? Because God “wants all people to be saved” from timeless, godless, dark emptiness. Old time is gone. God’s new time in his creation is here and today we see that the Spirit of Christ shapes our times and seasons. This beautiful display is just one more sign of God’s re-shaping of our time…..
A WEEK: It speaks of an 8 day week, not merely 7. The resurrection of Jesus is what we celebrate and receive again every 7 days. This a day beyond time – “the 8th day”, if you like – where the God of creation meets with his people en-mass and gives his gifts of new life over and over again for the life of the world.
A YEAR: Our year has not only 4 seasons of climate but God’s times within that….. Our earthly journey around the sun on planet earth is re-shaped in God’s story now. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, over and over again…. We are kept in the gospel truth as we share the story in all four earthy seasons by these heavenly seasons.
A DAY: Our day has more than just sun rise and sunset. Our day at work or home or school or alone is shaped by God’s time – prayer in the morning and evening, or including midday as well, or even seven times per day in some Christian traditions.
From short to long, from earth to heaven, from me to the church and back again, our lives and its seasons are fashioned by the master of time for his good purposes – so that we may know him better, more fully, constantly, and that he may be known by all.
Today is a message in art and textile and produce – a message hope: time is not futile in Christ. Time has great meaning. My life is not futile. I am not simply a pawn for angry gods to move around at will with no concern for me or my loved ones. No, time is gift from a gracious God who creates you and sustains you lovingly. Your work, study, pursuits have meaning and purpose. God uses the ground, my hands, my skills, my creativity, the gifts he has given us to help his world, to heal his world, to love his world in his name.
So, friend, today is one of those “kairos” times for you. This is a time to be sought, grabbed hold of – not missed. A time of a gift being given that simply must be received.
Will thanksgiving flow from the heart for all that is, seen and unseen, or will we merely celebrate our achievements in the church and this Valley, as if they were only ours. Will we marvel at ecosystems as if they are random – something merely to be manipulated by us – because we are god?
Lord, save us from thanks given to the wrong place!
Friend, whatever your work, whatever your drive, you hopes, your dreams your skills, your brains, your talents your needs your beliefs, we say today, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. (Colossians 3:17)
All thanks be to Christ for life in the Valley!
Share the top 1 or 2 things that stood out to you in the St Petri “Seasons of the church year” display and why….
I suggested that the display has two messages: One about God’s goodness in creation and the gift of our own creativity and the other about how God re-shapes our seasons and times for his saving purposes. So, we have calendars and seasons and times but then we Christians have seasons that are in and yet beyond “normal” time. What do you think about this?
Read the 1 Timothy text…. I noted the use of that word “at the proper time”. God gave himself to us in his Son at the right time, the full time, the complete time, the best time – or in Greek – “Kairos” time. By the death and resurrection from death of Jesus all time is now new time, God’s time, Kairos time and this time needs to be seized, paid attention to, acted upon…. How do you think you grab hold of Jesus and his message of love and grace?
Many don’t recognise God’s proper time in Jesus. Many in the Valley o not acknowledge that God gives both the yearly seasons and the special church seasons, and so the Vintage Festival can be merely human arrogance – taking all the credit for what is not merely human! In what ways do you see this kind of thanklessness to God at work among your family and friends and how do you respond to this when needed?
I said that God has re-ordered our time.
• We have an “8 day week” in the sense that worship is beyond time and is the completion of our week as we gather in the timeless presence of our God. So our weekly pattern is different to many.
• We have a different year – more seasons than just the climatic seasons – Advent – Pentecost….
• In the church we have a long, long pattern of prayer – morning, midday and evening – in some places and times even more – “7 times a day”.
How do you think about your time and is your day, week and year shaped by “God’s time” more or less than “normal” time and seasons?
The good news for us is that both normal time and special time are God’s and they are both gifts. All creation, seasons and people are offered the wonderful new life in God’s new creation; in God’s new time in the person of Jesus Christ!
Pray a prayer of thanks to God for your life in the Valley and seek his direction for how to live in his time.