This is Rev. Geoff McKee’s sermon for Sunday 04 August 2019, with Hosea 11:1-11 the main text.
Hosea 11:1-11 (New International Version)
God’s Love for Israel
11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
6 A sword will flash in their cities;
it will devour their false prophets
and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
Even though they call me God Most High,
I will by no means exalt them.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come against their cities.
10 They will follow the Lord;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the Lord.
Father, hear us, we are praying.
Hear the words our hearts are saying.
We are praying for our children.
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril.
Father, hear us for our children.
From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.
Through life’s troubled waters steer them.
Through life’s bitter battles cheer them.
Father, Father, be thou near them.
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them home at eventide.
These beautiful, poignant words were written by Amy Carmichael, who lived most of her life in India, serving God as a missionary.
She was born in Millisle, a little village, just a few miles from where I come from in Ireland.
After many remarkable years of sacrificial service in India, she was bedridden for the last twenty years of her life but she remained in India throughout her incapacity – with her people. She wrote countless books lying in her bed.
She died in India in 1951 at the age of 83.
She asked that no stone be put over her grave at Dohnavur.
Instead, the children she had cared for put a bird bath over it with the single inscription “Amma”, which means ‘mother’ in the Tamil language. She was a true mother to them all: nurturing, caring and inspiring.
I wonder if you have a family photograph album or albums at home.
The younger generations of mums and dads probably don’t because, with the advent of digital photography, photos tend to be stored digitally on computers.
The best of the photos will, of course, be printed and displayed at home, but most will lie unseen in a hard-drive.
But the older generations of mums and dads will probably still have the albums.
When my mother and father were preparing for their house move recently, out came the albums from dear knows when! They were downsizing and so there was a cull of the photographs. The ones that myself and my sister wanted were given to us and the rest were disposed of. But it gave us all a good laugh to see some of us with hair and others with different hair styles and all the changes through the years of growing up.
Mums and dads remember what the children have no memory of.
- The first words,
- the first faltering steps,
- the tears and tantrums,
- the quest for independence, with the skinned knees and joyful discoveries and all the rest.
Photo albums can bring those memories back, maybe with a wee tear in the eye.
We have the equivalent of God’s family photo album, in written, descriptive text in Hosea 11.
These are God’s memories of his son, his people Israel, sometimes referred to as Ephraim in the passage.
God’s memories that Israel has no memory of. Tender, poignant memories, yet laced with stark realism. [Read more…]