A six year-old girl in Scotland decided to write a letter to God. Her parents, who are non-believers were concerned that she get an answer to her question which was, “To God, How did you get invented?” Her father, being a good father, sent the letter off. The Scottish Episcopal Church didn’t answer, neither did the Presbyterians. The Scottish Catholics sent a “nice but theologically complex answer.” But then the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion wrote back. This is his letter.
Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –
‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.
Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.
But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’
And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.
I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.
It is Easter Sunday morning, a morning to discover God and be surprised. I think Archbishop Rowan is right about the ways we can discover God.
If you want to discover God, look for something beautiful. As Jeremiah suggested, plant something with your hands, see it blossom and bear fruit. Do something creative that makes the world more beautiful.
If you want to discover God, ask the big, difficult questions, delve into the mysterious. The mystery that amazes me this morning is also from Jeremiah. He calls Israel a virgin! Can you believe that? A four thousand year old virgin! We know the stories, how Israelites were slaves in Egypt, how they were freed and wandered through the dessert, whining. How they invaded a land, committed genocide, had genocide committed on them. Some virgin! That is a mystery, how God can know and love and forgive us, no matter what. We can be virgins again.
Rowan says if you want to discover God be very quiet, and feel peace and love you hadn’t expected. Take time with a memory; let it be healed.
There are many, many ways to discover God. I think there is one that Rowan doesn’t mention, and that is right here, in community. This is why I became a priest; so that every Sunday I could discover God sitting in these pews, people praying, singing, crying, squirming. It is in community that I discover God.
The story of the cross and tomb reminds us that even in the midst of death and despair, God is to be found; God goes with us where ever we are.
And the story of the women going to the tomb reminds us that God is not where you last left off. “He is not here! He has been raised!”
Have you discovered God? This is the day! This is the day to discover God, if you never have, or if you have forgotten the beautiful, mysterious love and peace of God. Discover God. Be surprised.
Preached by The Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer
Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011