“My client isn’t in any hurry.” Gen 12, John 3

Liturgy resources at the bottom, Links to Lenten posts here, and a reflection on Abraham, Nicodemus and  Antoni Gaudi following. Enjoy!

Lent Links

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Genesis 12:1-4a

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him.

So Abram went. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? God said, “Go,” so he went.

But I wonder what he thought when he got there. I can imagine Abram pitching his tent, putting out a deck chair or two and looking at the land around him. Semi-desert stretching into the distance.

“OK then God. Here I am, in the country you showed me. I left my ancestral home like you said, gave up everything aaaaand … now what? I think you said something about me being a great nation. Can’t quite see it just yet. Any news on when that’s happening? ”

But Abram would have to wait quite a while to get news on the great nation thing. Eventually he became the father of Ishmael and Isaac, then Isaac had Jacob and Jacob had the famous twelve sons, but twelve isn’t exactly a great nation and Abraham was long dead by then.

I wonder what conversation Abraham had with God on his deathbed. Did he think God had failed him? Had God forgotten about the promise? Or did Abraham understand that we don’t have to see the end to know it’s there?

I’m reminded of the Sagrada Família, the church designed by Gaudi, which was started in 1882 and is aiming for completion in 2026, the centenary of  Gaudi’s death. (Spoiler: Probably not going to be finished by then.)

Gaudí devoted most of his life to the project, but at the time of his death, the project was less than a quarter  done. When asked about the slow progress, Gaudi  pointed heavenward and said, “My client isn’t in any hurry.”

Just as well, because 150 or so years to build the Sagrada Família is nothing in the church-building world. York Minster took 250 years and Westminster Abbey, 500. Top of the list is Cologne Cathedral at 632 years. That’s like starting a DIY project in 1391 and only finishing now.

1391. That’s before the Wars of the Roses. Before Columbus. Before Machu Picchu. (The Chinese invented loo paper that year.)

You have to have vision to start a project that will not be finished in your lifetime, or even the lifetimes of your great-great-great-grandchildren.

But that’s what the builders of the medieval cathedrals did. That’s what Gaudi did. That’s what Abraham did. And that’s what God is doing with us, right now.

In another of today’s readings, we meet Nicodemus. He came to Jesus without really knowing what it was all about, rather like Abraham on his journey to an unknown land. Nicodemus didn’t get all the answers to his questions. I’m sure he left Jesus more puzzled than he arrived. But we find him at Jesus’ side on Good Friday, ready with spices and a fresh tomb, so we know that he stuck around.

It’s OK to not have all the answers. (Anyone who has all the answers probably hasn’t understood the question!) It’s OK, like Nicodemus, to come to Jesus with what we have and be near him because it’s good to be there, even if we’re not quite sure why. It’s OK, like Abraham, to be faithful in the little we know and trust God for the rest.

Like the Sagrada Família, Abraham and Nicodemus were both works in progress. Same as me. Same as you. God is very good with works in progress, even if they take our whole life time. As Gaudi said, “My client isn’t in any hurry.”

Liturgy Resources for Lent 2

Psalm 121, John 3:1-17

Confession and Absolution

For God so loved the world …
Father, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole hearts,
nor our neighbours as ourselves.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

… that he gave his only Son …
Father, we confess that we have failed to recognise your Son when he comes to us
but have lived as if our lives were our own.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

… so that everyone who believes in him …
Father, we confess that we have not spread your light and love to those around us,
but have kept this treasure to ourselves.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

… may not perish but may have eternal life.
Gracious Father, for the sake of your Son
and through the inpouring of your Spirit,
forgive us all our sins,
renew us for your service
and restore us in your image.

For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
may not perish but may have eternal life.

Blessing and Dismissal

Lift your eyes to the hills,
and see your help,
coming from the Lord!

Lift your eyes to the hills,
and see the Lord who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
The Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Lift your eyes!
Lift your eyes, for God who watches over you
will not let your foot slip.
He will keep you from all harm.
He will be your shade at your right hand.
He will watch over your coming and your going,
for today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

So lift your eyes,
and see your help.
It is the Lord!

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