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On a planet far, far away...

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sermon for the Sunday next before Advent

Astronomers now are detecting solar systems around stars that are so far way that they may no longer exist by the time the light from them has reached us. The way that we detect planets so far away is by looking at how the light from each star is being affected by gravity, or by changes in brightness or frequency. What astronomers are not doing is observing these planets directly through a telescope. As far as we are concerned, these planets exist only as measurements stored on pieces of paper or within the hard drive of a computer.

By faith, astronomers discover these far-off planets.


“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

What does that mean?

We can certainly understand Faith as the evidence of things not seen like the astronomers never see those planets and yet have some evidence to show for why they believe that. But what does it mean to say that Faith is the substance of things hoped for?

As Christians, we know that there are three things that will last forever: Faith, Hope and Love. We hope that we will be raised from the dead. We hope that we shall enjoy Eternity with God. These are articles of our Faith and we can find them in our Creeds.

That’s not all we could hope for.

We could hope that Time will run backwards so that we didn’t shut our fingers in the door last Saturday. We could hope that our computer will start behaving itself after we belt it with a sledgehammer. We could also hope that we will be served breakfast in bed tomorrow by trained kangaroos on hoverboards. What makes these hopes different from the hopes set out in the Creed?


The answer is Faith – the evidence of things not seen. We have no evidence that Time will ever run backwards. We have no evidence that computers that are smashed with sledgehammers run at all, let alone run smoothly. We have no evidence that hoverboards can exist, or that kangaroos can be trained to serve food. We cannot hope for things which we cannot believe will happen.

We have evidence that when we see a shadow that there is something that causes that shadow. From this evidence we are justified in believing that planets can exist orbiting stars far, far away.

Faith underpins what we can reasonably hope for. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it is by Faith that all the people whose lives are recorded in Holy Scripture do such remarkable things.


Many people will tell you that having faith is the opposite of being reasonable. As we see, scientists have their faith that the laws of physics are what they have experienced and believe continue to govern how the Universe works. We Christians have evidence that God is Who He says He is. The very fact that your coffee cup doesn’t suddenly change into a rabbit, or that your arm doesn’t wink out of existence, and that events can be predicted, shows a Universe which makes sense to us and this is evidence that God exists to make the Universe make sense. Our understanding of how History works shows that there is evidence of Our Lord Jesus Christ and that there is evidence that what He says and does is true.

Our understanding of how we have come here to worship God is evidence that something has happened in the lives of countless Christians through the centuries for us to be here now.


We have plenty of evidence for Our God and Lord Jesus Christ and we are justified in living our lives according to this Faith. As we close our Liturgical Year, we find ourselves ready to begin again at looking at why we believe and taking heart that what we believe will bring us to the throne of God when He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

By Faith, our hopes in Him will come true.

By Faith, pain and sorrow will end.

By Faith, our suffering will be shown to mean something truly wonderful.

By Faith, all wrong will be made right.

By Faith, we will see the Advent of our King.

Come, Lord Jesus.

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