Most of the time we live just getting on with life. Wake up. We get up. We step into the day with its tasks and challenges. We eat. We drink. We rest. We go to bed and so it goes on.
But then occasionally, hopefully we sometimes step back too and consider whether we are in the right career, or the right home, or even the right relationships. We step back to consider the big picture.
It’s true of our life with God too. Much of the time we get on with it, we say our prayers perhaps, read the Bible, come to church, receive the sacrament. e step into our life with God daily.
But then every so often, if we are wise we step back and consider how that life with God is going perhaps accompanied by a friend or counsellor, whether we feel God close or distant.
Sometimes this stepping back happens painfully when we are confronted by something specific our mortality, an illness or a grief for example.
But it can happen at other times too, when we reach a significant birthday for example, or as we pay attention to an underlying sense that we are not as fulfilled as we might be.
So, life and faith are lived most of the time just getting on with it, as we step into our daily lives but there are also times when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
And it’s this sense of stepping back to see the big picture that I want to focus on this morning accompanied by Jesus, who time after time steps out to meet us through the pages of the Gospels.
Often this stepping out into our lives is through a specific event. For example, over the last few weeks we heard of his baptism, of his presentation in the Temple and a wedding at Cana.
But then sometimes, though not quite so often we are invited to step back and take in the bigger picture. hat’s our readings invite us to do today.
As both Paul and John are trying to find words to make sense of who Jesus was. t first glance here was a man present on earth at a particular time and in a particular place.
But then when they stepped back and prayed and pondered, they wrote that he was so much more than just a man.
Paul writes that he was ‘The image of the invisible God….the first born of all creation’ in whom ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.’ And John said that ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.’
These were and are bold claims about who Jesus was and is. ey, just as we have – had met Jesus as they stepped into his life, death and resurrection and then as they stepped back they saw how to use John’s memorable words ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’
If you have ever seen the Sistine Chapel in Rome, you will know that there are many small images that fill the wall – indeed these are interesting in themselves. ou step in closer to see the detail.
And yet it is when you step back and take in the full magnificence of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece that you really appreciate what he did in that chapel.
These two readings invite us to do the same. o step back and consider who Jesus was and is.
The trouble is that we are sometimes so pre-occupied with all sorts of things, whether it is being busy or being overtaken by our anxieties and fears especially at the moment – that we seldom find the time or emotional space to step back.
It’s so easy to be so consumed by our own story, that we forget the greater story of which we are part. nd clergy are certainly no exception, we can get so drawn into the detail of being the church that we can forget why we are the church.
Thinking about this theme also brought to mind another work of art and a visit to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the Museum D’Orsay in Paris a couple of years ago.
It’s a beautiful painting – the trouble was that it was on the must see list. So, we watched, bewildered as a non-stop stream of people would find it, take snap a photo for their Instagram story and then walk off.
They stepped in so close to something so beautiful and yet didn’t really see it because there was no space to step back and contemplate the picture as whole and see how it might speak to them.
We can do that sometimes so that though we hear the stories, we are deaf to their meaning. e cannot seem to step back and see the bigger picture.
Part of the mission of the church, in this and every age, in good times and in bad. Is to step into the story of our lives and tell the story of how God became one of us in the person of Jesus – the one whom our readings today memorably described as being ‘full of grace and truth’ in whom ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’.
And also to be a big space, both physical and emotional where we can ponder the important things of life, where we are encouraged to step back and remember what the coming of Jesus means and of how through him God’s way of love was revealed once and for all.
The Creed that follows this sermon is part of this as it sets before us the big picture, rich in symbol and metaphor. A picture that reaches back through time, recalling creation and the incarnation, speaks to the present and draws us into the future.
So, this morning, as we recall the way in which we step into each day we pray for grace to have times of stepping back too. iving thanks for the God who stepped into our lives in Jesus and invites us who try to follow him to find ways in our lives to step back, admire the view and remember what God has done for me and for you.