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By Greg Hughson in All Sorts

Being found by God is more transforming than finding God.

When our granddaughters Alice and Evie come to Mornington Church with us, they love playing hide and seek with me after Church. They hide behind the organ. They hide behind the piano. They hide under the seats. When it is my turn, I hide in the same places. They find me. Every time they find me. And there is great rejoicing when one of them finds me! I also enjoy and value the
experience of being found.
Earlier this week a few of us helped Rebecca prepare our Church to receive its new carpet. The old carpet has been in place since 1984 when our "new" Mornington Methodist Church was opened. When the old carpet was lifted, we found that the foundation undergirding our worship space is in fact, concrete. Each Sunday, we hear the scripture read - and the Word of God proclaimed - from people standing on hard rock, covered by a thin layer of carpet. Each Sunday, we sit on comfortable chairs, but the base on which our Church is built, is solid rock. This brings to mind the teaching of Jesus to build our lives on firm foundations. (Matthew 7: 24-27) As we go through life, we discover that those who have gone before us in the faith have laid foundations (physical and spiritual ) of which we may be completely unaware, until the old layers are stripped away to reveal what lies beneath.
Some times it seems as if God is playing a game of hide and seek with us. Why is God so hard to find? Why would God hide from us? Some people today have given up trying to find God. Attempting to find God can be an exhausting process. Being open to the experience of being found by God is however, I believe, more important than trying to find God. Jesus refers to this spiritual dynamic in his story about the lost sheep. In this story, the shepherd leaves the other 99 sheep behind, to go in search of the one that is lost. There is a divine intentionality at work here. Our Shepherd God knows our need for fellowship and safety. God does everything possible therefore to find us and to bring us back to where we need to be, to give us another chance. After the prodigal son had wasted his father's wealth, he ended up in a pig sty. He eventually came to his senses, realised what he had lost, and began the long journey home. In the story Jesus tells, the young man's father saw him far away and ran towards him, finding his son, embracing him, and bringing him home to celebrate. God does the same. Whenever we try to hide from or ignore God, God comes out of hiding to find us. Such redemption is real and true, in a way that is beyond the capacity of any scientific technique to prove or disprove. It has been found to be true in the experience of followers of Christ over the last 2000 years, and in my own experience. Being found by God is more transforming than finding God. When we allow ourselves to be found by God, we are met by a deep source of love, forgiveness and grace from which we can draw all the strength we need to love and care for ourselves and others. To be found by God we need to do more than open our minds, although that is important. When we come to worship, it is more about allowing ourselves to be found by God, than finding God. The first step is allowing ourselves to be found. The rest of life, in all its fullness, is our response to being found. The prodigal son and the lost sheep did their best to hide from God, but in the end they were found. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see! Amazing grace indeed.

Last Tuesday I found two “lost” stained glass windows, located high up on the back wall of our Mornington Church hall. (see photo) These windows have been lost to most of us for decades. They are covered over on the inside of the Hall by Judo wall mats (!) so can only be seen from the outside. The scene portrayed in the windows is of Jesus calling the disciples, Simon and Andrew to leave their nets and follow him. (Matthew 4 vs 18-22). Colin Gibson tells me that this scene was intentionally chosen by A.H. Reed for his new Sunday School building. The message it sends is that we are all called to ministry of one kind or another.
In 1984 I candidated for ordained ministry from my home Parish of Saint Francis in Hamilton. During the whole year long selection process I had a picture poster of Matthew 4 vs 18-22 on my wall. It was very similar to this stained glass scene. I had a very real sense of Jesus calling me to leave my nets (actually it was a Biochemistry Lab) and to follow him, not knowing where I (or my family) would end up. I was unable to hide from or ignore God's call on my life, a call that came through many people. So I responded affirmatively and, in faith, I allowed my name to go forward. The rest is history. Seeing this same scene depicted in a relatively “hidden” place last Tuesday, took me back to 1984. The call of Christ is embedded, both in the “hidden” artistic infrastructure of our Mornington Church Hall, and in an open ongoing invitation to follow, serve and worship a loving God who will never give up on any one of us.
Rev Greg Hughson