WYSIWYG ... or WYGIAGOG?
Preacher: Canon Neil Thompson, Precentor
23 September 2012, 10:30 (THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY)
THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
23 September 2012
WYSIWYG, yes WYSIWYG!
I haven’t gone mad: it is an acronym of what you see is what you get.
Computing has used this phrase because it describes what interface applications like Windows show on your screen; you see exactly what you have created and how it will look in print.
Computing was not always like that but nowadays even the smart phone provides its owner with WYSIWYG.
Now it may be computer speak but it is also what our age is all
about: we want to see, to see what we know and to be in control and important.
We certainly live in a visual age in which image, appearance and
material proof and benefit are paramount.
At the same time we want to know what we cannot see: in
complete contradiction to the scientific and materially verifiable
demands of people in 2012, everywhere around us there are
Just think how many newspapers, magazines and websites
offer astrological predictions and we read how celebrities are
often keen customers of astrologers.
Even President and Mrs Regan used to seek this kind of
knowledge of the future and order their lives accordingly ( – I
hope US foreign policy wasn’t based on it!!).
We want a world with no mysteries: we want to know everything,
even the future, and control the present as sole masters.
By contrast the Bible takes us into a completely different way of
seeing the world and that is what we are celebrating today in
Holy Baptism for little Bethany and Saniya and in our offering of
the Holy Eucharist.
Bethany and Saniya come to the Christian family, the Church, as
a gift and their entry into our community of faith as full members
provides us with an opportunity to rediscover what it is to live by faith and not by sight alone.
Let us look at our Gospel reading for today from St Mark.
The passage we have heard follows the extraordinary experience of Jesus with Peter, James and John on the mountain of the Transfiguration – there Jesus was seen in glory as the eternal Christ.
Now Jesus and the disciples are passing through Galilee and he is speaking to them of his future:
The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days later after being killed, he will rise again.
And the disciples did not understand. Here was a future that was frightening and which they truly didn’t want to know.
Instead they started arguing amongst themselves as to which one of them was the greatest, the most important.
Jesus sits them down and teaches them clearly: whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.
And to show them exactly what this mystery was all about he takes a little child, sets the little one in their midst and takes it in his arms and says:
Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.
Here quite simply is the heart of God’s kingdom: the first is the last and the servant of all, and God is welcomed in the trust and simplicity and wonder of childhood.
What you see is not what you get.
Here is a mystery and here is the truth of God.
In our sophisticated world of 2012 as we welcome Saniya and Bethany we also welcome Jesus and the eternal Father.
It is an extraordinary thought and easily dismissed as fanciful and irrelevant to the complexities and pressures of our society and daily life.
However, Jesus insists that this is the heart of our faith and the Gospel: to trust, to learn, to grow and to change; above all we have to die and be born again.
And that happens when we are baptised and in every moment that follows.
We are no longer our own but God’s and we belong to a family greater than anything we can imagine.
We belong in time and beyond it.
And this building speaks not of history and human achievement, of heritage as commerce and culture, but of mystery.
This building puts us in our place: it was built to present us with the vision of God in our daily lives and to teach us that God is mystery not fact.
The simple truth of this building is that it both reveals and conceals: it shows us certain things and encloses and cuts off others.
It is tantalising. It is impractical. It sets itself against our demand for transparency, accessibility, possession and knowledge.
Wherever you are in the building, not only as in any other place on earth is your view unique, but what you see is not what you get.
Coming into this building, we are challenged to learn about God and his perspective for us in this world.
Here, heaven and earth touch in a special way and we are led on, through and beyond the physical barriers and successive spaces and chambers of the building.
And why? ...
to lead us from earth to heaven,
from sight to faith,
from knowledge to vision,
from death to life.
Nothing in this place is neutral and nothing belongs solely to us.
This is God’s house and in it stone and light intermingle and change.
We are asked to surrender our demands to know, to control and to get the answers we want.
Instead we are asked to learn new and different truths born of a different way of seeing and a different way of living.
God invites us in baptism to die so as to live and to find our importance and our meaning in humility and service, in Christ.
This is the way of love, the way of Jesus, love incarnate.
And as two little children are set in our midst let us pray that the water of baptism will not only be Christ’s touch of victory over death and bring them into eternity but that all of us might be changed by the presence of God and his extraordinary and transforming power this morning.
For not only water conceals and reveals Jesus: the bread and wine of the Eucharist are his presence in his sacred body and blood – the food of the heavenly banquet.
Death and life, hunger and satisfaction, thirst and refreshment overwhelm us all in a new economy and a new revelation of creation’s meaning.
We are set in the heart of a revolution that challenges the world in its political power, economic mastery, and social status and above all in its centre and interpretation in terms of ourselves alone.
Belonging to God and writing his history is what we are born for.
It gives us joy and work; it gives us purpose and a vocation.
Baptism won’t protect any us from the future in terms of pain, disappointment and even death but it does promise God’s strength, presence and power to defeat everything that threatens and diminishes us.
How blest we are that have WYGIAGOG – what you get is a glimpse of glory, yes WYGIAGOG not WYSIWYG!!
Listen to these wonderful lines of R.S. Thomas in his poem The Kingdom – it says it all.
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed: mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you will purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
The Kingdom ~ R.S. Thomas