The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

I am more nervous about making ANZAC biscuits than I am about making a pavlova. The reason is simple. I have made far more pavlovas than ANZAC biscuits! I could make a pav from memory if required (though, truth be told, I still check the recipe) but for ANZAC biscuits I read the recipe many times to make sure I’ve got it right (and Charlotte’s notes). So this week’s attempt at ANZAC biscuits promised to be great – they were coming along nicely – or so I thought – until I looked at the first tray in the oven and realised something was wrong. I couldn’t think of what had happened and only after the second rereading of the recipe – I didn’t spot it the first time! – did I realise my mistake! I’d left out an ingredient!

Ah, the mixed response … wasting the ingredients, not the best use of my time, having to go to the shops now (I used the last of one ingredient – ok, I’d have to go to the shops anyway – but sooner if I want to make them again soon), thinking through the calendar when to try again, cleaning up without a treat at the end … so it was mixture of smiling (wryly) and sighing … and making a commitment to read the recipe carefully and already imagining that I’ll remember this ingredient but forget something else! 😉

Earlier this week I was in a discussion about evil and why people can be so monstrous to others – particularly children – and why pain and suffering because of cruel diseases exist. ‘Why does the world have to be the way it is?’ was the hidden question. It is tricky not to lay the blame at God’s feet – to suggest that God by design or accident (leaving out an ingredient?) is responsible for what happens. Fortunately I was able to say that there are many different answers to our origins and our behaviour and our world and that Christianity talks about a God who made everything ‘very good’ and we’re the ones who have ruined things and brought about disorder, disease, disaster – and that is the theological background for Jesus who came to be with us in the world we have made. In Jesus, God is not remote but personal – personal to each of us – and calls us to trust and follow him in all circumstances – even when darkness and evil assail us from without or within – and he offers us a way of living in this world.

Other religions either talk about God’s will and blind trust – in your good deeds – or cyclical time and enlightenment will come eventually. Atheism leaves people with nothing because there is no meaning or justice or anything of substance – except what we say is our meaning – which doesn’t help when we do the bad things that happen. Jesus is an unexpected revelation – that gives hope and meaning and confidence and security in a world with evil and monstrous deeds of people. God didn’t throw us and creation ‘in the bin’ when we ruined things – nor does God walk away from today’s world that we have made – no mixed response here but he is committed to helping – saving and rescuing – us so that we can live in this world with him – because our eternal life and future is secure. That’s what Jesus and his cross and empty tomb promises!