On a chilly Monday morning, I stood in the Chapel at Holy Cross School with about 85 students and teachers and watched the sun gradually melt the frost on the lawn. Our vantage point was perfect. The bright sun was rising and the main school building cast a long shadow. In the shade we could clearly see the frost. Where the sun wasn’t blocked by the building, the frost quickly disappeared. The shadow line moved pretty rapidly. We could actually see the progress, inch by inch. While we were in Chapel, the sun rose enough to melt about 15 feet of frost. We had to be still and wait but we could mark a spot on the lawn and watch the sun overtake it in a matter of seconds. Even though the air was still pretty cold, the frost was no match for the warmth of the sun.
Our lesson for the day began with a question for the students: “What’s the biggest number you know?” Immediately someone said, “a billion”, then someone said “a trillion”. Someone added “a bazillion” which is a made up number but it sounds like a lot. One of the older students said, “infinity”, which both correctly answered the question and helped us all realize that we simply cannot think of the biggest number. Any number we imagine can be increased by adding one more to it. There is no such thing as the biggest number.
There are a number of bible stories which illustrate the vastness of God and God’s love for the world. When Jesus turns the water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, we might be more struck with the quantity of the wine than the transformation of the water itself. Jesus makes 180 gallons of wine! That’s a lot of wine, especially considering the crowd has already consumed all the wine that had been provided by the host.
The feeding of the 5,000 similarly expresses a vast quantity. Not only does Jesus turn a small amount of fish and bread into enough for the masses, but there is a lot left over. The parable of the sower also speaks of high volume. The seeds the sower sows are so plentiful that they are not limited to the prepared field. The seeds are strewn on the path, the rocks, and among the thorns. When you’ve got that many seeds, you can afford to sling them all over the place.
Maybe the parable that best expresses the vastness of God for me is the parable of the Prodigal Son, sometimes known as the parable of the Forgiving Father. The younger son takes his inheritance and wastes it all. He returns home ashamed and humiliated by his own poor decisions. The father not only forgives the son for his wastefulness but goes to tremendous expense to throw a huge feast to welcome the son home. Meanwhile the older son resents the father’s generosity but the father assures him there is plenty for him too.
Often in life we act like there is a limited amount of love to go around. We imagine sins that God won’t be able to forgive. We think of love more like approval that we have to earn. We look at the advancing evils in the world and doubt God’s ability to defeat evil. We look at our own misdeeds and hope that God might just ignore our sinfulness. It’s hard for us to imagine that God could both know us thoroughly and still have room for us in his heart. Rather than openly admitting to God who we are in the assurance that God will heal us and make us whole, we keep things hidden even from ourselves and fail to honestly take stock of our lives. We’re pretty lazy in our spiritual walks and so fearful of taking on work that might be challenging for us. We gloss over the harder things in our hearts and lives because our picture of God is just too limited.
God’s love and God’s abilities are like numbers and an advancing sunrise. God’s love and God’s abilities are infinite and progressive. If we are still enough we can watch God’s vast abilities warm our own hearts and those of others. We can see evil transformed into goodness. We can allow God’s love to change us and learn to love even our enemies. We can see the worst in the world become the very best. The love of God is infinite yet very particular. Jesus is God in human form. Look for the vastness of God in the details of your life. God’s love is warming us and all of creation.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Newly Elected Vestry Members
Congratulations to those elected to the Vestry in the Class of 2022: John Carter, Will Gunter, Katie Keller, Mary Nelms Parsons, Nick Prillaman, Radney Ramsey, and Emily Wise. They join Virginia Banister, Richard Bradford, Kat Dailey, Mike Jenkins, Jimmy McLemore (Junior Warden), Stephanie Norrell, Todd Westhauser, Dick Arrington, Bill Eskridge (Senior Warden), Georgia Holmes, Austin Huffaker, Alice Longshore, Jean Smyth, and Bob Young. The entire Vestry will be on a planning retreat this coming weekend, February 1-3, at Camp McDowell.
Wednesdays in Lent 2019 – Guest Preachers/Teachers
Noonday Prayers and Sermon at 12:05, followed by Luncheon
Teaching at 6:30 pm after Eucharist at 5:30 and Supper at 6:00
March 13 – The Rev. Bonnie Perry, Rector of All Saints’, Chicago
March 20 – The Rev. Bentley Manning, Rector of Incarnation, Highlands NC
March 27 – The Rev. Abi Moon, Associate Rector of St. John’s, Tallahassee
April 3 – The Rev. Tommie Watkins, Rector of St. Andrew’s, Birmingham
April 10 – The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan, Bishop of Alabama
Confirmation for Adults and Youth – April 10 at 5:30 pm