“God’s hand at work” A sermon by The Rev’d Wendy Morecroft Sunday 15 July 2018, Choral Eucharist, 8th Sunday After Pentecost

2 Samuel 6.1-5, 12B-19, Psalm 24, Ephesian 1.1-14, Mark 6.14-29

In the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The 1970’s band Skyhooks sang a hit song “Horror Movie – it’s the 6.30 news”. But last Tuesday, over and above reports on football scores and bloodless trade-wars, that currently dominate our 6.30 news, came a miraculous story of global cooperation in the successful rescue of the Wild Boar soccer team-and-their-coach from an underwater cave in Thailand. Brigid Delaney writing for The Guardian referred to it as the story the world needs right now. She wrote, and I quote: “and your heart, which was previously calcifying in your chest, lurches back to life. The rescue effort reminds me of something we’re in danger of forgetting: our natural default is cooperation. Even across cultures. Even across country and language barriers.”[1] End quote.

Today’s Collect may well have been written for just such a time as this. It begins: “Eternal God, open our eyes to see your hand at work in the splendour of creation” but it may well be saying “Eternal God, open our eyes to see your hand at work in the global cooperation for the rescue of the soccer team, and in the rescue attempts in the flood in Japan. Open our eyes to see your hand at work in those who walk alongside us in our sorrow or grief. Open our eyes to see your hand at work in our fundraising efforts for Riley Nixon two weeks ago. Open our eyes to see your hand at work in those who counsel, who donate, who visit, who invite, who welcome, who encourage, who cross the room to talk to us, who pray for us, who volunteer in a myriad of ways etc.

It continues with “Help us to cherish the gifts that surround us,” which could mean our family, friends, neighbours, food and shelter, our beautiful Cathedral. The Collect continues with: “Help us to share our blessings with our sisters and brothers and to experience the joy of life in your presence.” Sharing our blessings is akin to helping and cooperating and it is in such times that we experience the joy of life in God’s presence.

Today’s Epistle reminds us that as those who have faith in Christ Jesus, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing, we have forgiveness of our sins through his blood, we have an eternal inheritance “so that we, who were the first to set out hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.” Little wonder we are hard wired to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to cooperate and help where we can.

However, we may also feel helpless in situations like the Thai cave rescue and the Japan flood where there is little we can do except to pray. But has the success of the Thai cave mission given us the courage to do as verse 7 of today’s psalm says, to lift up our heads to see who else may be saved?

This news story has shone a light on the plight of the many children in Thailand who are like 14 year old Adul Sam-on who was trapped in the cave. He was invaluable to the divers for his ability to speak five languages. According to News.com.au Adul is a displaced teenager from one of the world’s poorest countries, whose “parents dropped him off at a Thai Baptist church eight years ago, asking that the pastor and his wife care for him.

In Myanmar’s self-governing Wa region, which is neither recognised by Myanmar nor internationally, education and employment opportunities are scarce. Instead, the region is known for drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare….Fighting between ethnic rebels from the United Wa State Army and Myanmar troops has driven thousands to seek safety and greener pastures in other countries, including in Thailand. Adul is among more than 400,000 people who are registered as stateless in Thailand …With no birth certificate, no ID card and no passport, Adul cannot legally marry, get a job or bank account, travel, own property or vote. Thailand has vowed to register all stateless people by 2024, but until then people like him remain stuck in legal limbo.” The stories of the coach Ek and the other boys is similarly disturbing.[2] If all we can do is pray and raise awareness then let’s do that. If you want to help on a more practical level, our Anglican Board of Mission has a number of on-going projects in Myanmar. https://www.abmission.org/pages/myanmar.html

What about at home? Is thereanything we can do to help our own refugees on Nauru? You may have seen the cartoon on social media depicting a mother and her child clinging hopelessly to the inside of a cyclone fence wondering if they also, should get lost in a cave.

What about those known to us personally who may be suffering as a result of an abusive relationship such as Michal, David’s abused wife in our Old Testament reading. She is far from the centre of attention in the story but her back story is also troubling.

Michal was the daughter of King Saul and she loved David. We don’t know if David loved her but marrying her, made him a member of the royal family. When Saul grew jealous of David and wanted to kill him, Michal risked her life in helping him to escape. She heard nothing more of him until after he had married seven more wives and her father had married her off to another. David secured her return, but she remained childless which at least one commentator says was his way of controlling her and preventing heirs of King Saul. No wonder she despised him in her heart, as he danced in front of the ark of the covenant.

How might we help rescue or walk alongside such people? Of course, we should always do as Jesus did in John 5:6 before he healed on the sabbath, and ask if, and how, we can help.

There is so much suffering in the world and it can be all rather overwhelming. Noticing God’s hand at work is a good antidote. As our preparation for confirmation books says: “As Christians we do not believe that God wills our suffering. He does not sit on a throne far away, deciding which of us will suffer today. On the contrary, the cross of Jesus means that God himself shares our suffering. He suffers alongside us.”[3] Coming alongside another in their suffering is how we are as Christ to each other, even if we are required to sacrifice our own lives as did the Thai navy diver Saman Kunan who died while replenishing oxygen canisters to the soccer team.

For now, may we be encouraged by the miraculous global cooperation and the outpouring of prayer and concern for the Thai soccer team.

May we all recognise God’s hand at work in the world and in each other’s lives, may we work for the praise of His glory, and may we experience the joy of life in God’s presence. Amen.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/11/the-wild-boars-cave-rescue-is-the-news-story-the-world-needs-right-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[2] https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/adul-samon-14-played-a-crucial-role-in-thai-rescue-mission/news-story/c67e69230431f4450c0e6fb6535df44b

[3] Peter Jackson & Chris Wright, “Faith Confirmed – Preparing for Confirmation”