Towards a salvifico-historical hermaneutic [no, really]


A sermon for the feast day of any Saint, or any day at all, written and expanded over the course of the last year by visiting preachers

Only a couple of weeks ago, I was attending a friend’s wedding (and how good it is indeed to see young people in the church these days getting married!). The service was absolutely charming, with a short and insightful sermon, and more encouragingly still the toccata from Widor’s fifth organ symphony as the recessional voluntary. The grand, thundering notes remind us of the immensity of God’s love for us and the strength of human love matched against that in our own octave.

Very interestingly, the first passage for today also mentions God. Now, what is not mentioned but is surely a foundational constituent of the framework for the author (or authors) is the fact that God is creator. Before the younger ladies of the college get too carried away with their mid-term celebrations and in their inebriation allow the enthusiastic young men to cover them in whipped cream, we must turn our minds back to the passage. God is indeed the source and beginning of creation, and I would invite you to consider two points;

Firstly, that God is the creator of the world. We can come before him and be comforted by his power to protect us. Secondly, the world is created by God. This looks like it means the same thing, but I invite you have another look at the issue. As Rousseau said, “The right of conquest has no foundation other than the right of the strongest.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry would have agreed. That is, our attitude to the world is shaped by our knowledge that God has, as the most strong principle in operation, the right of conquest over this world. The present government’s plans to further the work of faith schools is therefore highly commendable.

The second reading complements this perspective by also mentioning God, so reminding us of the importance of faith in our daily lives in which we can reflect on God as creator.

And so that, I suggest, leads us back to the original theme. Why is it that the Widor toccata is so wildly popular? The key to its success, it has always seemed to me, is the perfect balance between the three registers, so well blended that a third of the congregation hums along with each line. Is this not a picture of a blessed Trinity we would do well to emulate? God, us, and his creation may dwell in perfect harmony.