Yeah, but no, but yeah, but…
Vicky Pollard does Easter
Sermon for Easter Day – Sunday 20 April 2019
St John the Baptist, Felixstowe.
Text: Luke 24.1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.
God give you peace my sisters and brothers.
On the wall of the staff room of St Martin’s High School in Johannesburg there was a poster near where the English teachers used to sit, and I suspect it is because of this poster that they sat there’ It read:
Don’t use no double negatives
About them sentence fragments
Try not to ever split infinitives
Verbs has to agree with their subjects
Between you and I, case is important
Correct spelling is essentail
When dangling, watch your participles
Use your apostrophe’s correctly
Avoid clichés like the plague
Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary
Proofread you writing
Feel free to add your own grammatical errors from your school days.
But what I really want to know is can you begin a sentence with a conjunction? Like… but?
I was taught to avoid both ‘but’ as well as ‘and’ at the beginning of sentences. All this has done is to leave me with a writing style that is littered with the word ‘however’ instead. Today’s grammar gurus say it is perfectly ok to begin a sentence with ‘but’. It is even ok to split infinitives, otherwise Star Trek would be ‘Boldly Going’ nowhere.
Some would even say, especially of adolescents, that it is impossible to begin a sentence without ‘but’ being its first word! You can hear them now can’t you? ‘ But Dad. But Mum.’
Where does God stand on this thorny issue? Well I think we may find God is an adolescent or even someone in Reception. Just look at the first verses of Genesis. For seven whole days there is an endless series of And God Saids. And it was Sos. And God saw that it was Goods.
Then there is today’s Gospel reading…
But on the first day of the week
But when they went in,
But the men said to them,
But He has risen
But the men said to them,
But these words seemed to them an idle tale,
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb;
This is not the Gospel according to Luke, this is the Gospel according to Vicky Pollard with her endless nagging chorus of ‘Yeah, but no, but yeah, but…’ Apparently the Garden Tomb is not in Jerusalem but somewhere on the set of Little Britain.
That’s the problem with God, like Vicky Pollard God keeps on ‘butting in’ on our lives. When things are going well and there’s a little extra cash in the bank God ‘buts in’ and shows us someone in need. When we’ve got comfortable in our ways and tend to turn bad habits of grudge holding, unforgiving-ness, and gossip into personal characteristics God ‘buts in’ and puts us in a place where we need forgiveness and understanding. When things fall apart in our home and family life and those once close are now estranged God ‘buts in’ and commands us to be the ones to take the first step in putting things right, even if it involves some swallowing of pride. And when the world seems to be going to hell in a handcart, tearing itself apart with the lust for power, the hunger for war, and the destruction of the environment God ‘buts in’ and shows us a cross on a green hill…
God ‘buts in’ yet again and empties the tombs we have made of our lives of all of their pain and sorrow and offers us life everlasting
Sometimes I get fed up with God and all this ‘butting in’ that describes the Creator’s relationship with the creation. Some days, like Greta Garbo, I want to be let alone. Left alone to my own devices, my own desires, my own just desserts and my own lonely dying.
But God won’t let me do that. God won’t let any of us do that. God loves us too much to not ‘but in’.
Throughout the history of God’s love story with us there are moments where God ‘buts in’ and calls us back home. Today is the greatest of these. God refuses to leave us alone. The cross is proof enough of God’s great love for us but the resurrection is proof not only of God’s love but of God’s intention to never ever leave us alone. The resurrection, and the fifty-day foretold gift of the Holy Spirit, is God’s declaration that there will never be an end to God ‘butting in’ on our lives.
You see we do not worship a God who did something great once and then left us alone to make up our minds as to whether we follow a set of commands or not. We worship a God whose love, as the old hymn reminds us, ‘Will not let us go’. Our God is a God who constantly ‘buts in.’ From the time when the world was first made, through the history of God’s journey with the children of Israel, to the first Easter when the world was remade. And so on down until God touches our lives, touches you and I, today on this Easter Day.
On occasion, in fact nearly all of the time, God ‘butting in’ on life can be a darn nuisance! But without God ‘butting in’ our world would be poorer, our common life would be harsher, and we would be living lives without hope – which is a sentence of death.
So, bring it on God! ‘Yeah, but no, but yeah, but’ away! Disturb our plans, disrupt our selfishness. Remind us that we can afford to love others because you love us. Challenge us to be people who ‘but in’ on the lives of others that the too may know the same love that burns within us. Please Lord; never ever stop being a nuisance. For without the resurrection, without your disturbing of ‘business as normal’ normality reigns and we are lost.
The next time we face a challenge.
The next time we are misunderstood or maligned
The next time we are the ones who have a hard heart
The next time the world is overshadowed by death and disaster
May this be our prayer and hope.
Copyright: Andrew Dotchin © 2019