Posted in 12 Words

12 Words: Here (Part 1)


Reading: Genesis 3: 1-13

Sometimes people claim we live in a ‘godless society.’ Or they might say where they work or where they spend some other part of their time is a fairly ‘godless’ place.

It’s not a phrase which makes any sense. For a couple of reasons.

Firstly, we all have gods.


From the most fundamentalist believers to the most ardent of atheists. We have our Gods. We might not recognise them as such, we might not call them by that name, but it’s what they are.

They can be good or bad things.

Our God could be pleasure.

It could be our career.

It could be ourselves.

Everybody believes in something.

We all have stuff we live for.

We all have our gods.

None of us are godless.

So wherever we are can’t be godless. If anything there’ll be lots of gods hanging around.

You say, Andrew, that’s not what the phrase really means. Well, I know, but the other reason is more important.

God is everywhere. I’m not sure if it was philosophers or theologians who came up with the word but one of the words they used to describe God was omnipresent. But ‘everywhere’ is easier to say.

It’s a point made by one of the most loved Psalms (139)

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

If God’s everywhere, nowhere can be truly godless. We might not be aware of God. God might not be recognised. God might not be noticed. God might not be wanted or welcome.

None of that changes anything. God is always there.

And if God is everywhere, then God is here.

Which brings us to our first word.


For if we want to encounter God, then here is where we must begin.

It’s the first question God asks of us.

Where are you?

And if they are to encounter this God who comes seeking them there is only one honest answer…


Here I am.

People often miss the point of those early chapters in Genesis. The point is not that our world is a mess because of choices a couple of people made a long time ago, in a land far, far away.

It’s about the choices we make,

all the time,

here and now.

And about how God wants to relate to us here and now.

I don’t for a minute think we’re supposed to imagine God walking in a garden, rooting through the bushes asking ‘where are those pesky kids?’ God knows precisely where they are.

But God needs them to recognise it.

To see, to realise where they are.

Because that is where God comes to meet them.


It’s the word we use to denote our presence. In the school roll call it’s our response to our name.



Here might seem the obvious response to the question ‘where are you?’ But often we’re not really ‘here.’ We’re anywhere but here, in anytime but now. We dwell on the past. We worry about the future. We’re distracted by all the stuff that’s gone on this morning, or have to do later today.

But here is where God comes to meet us.

And can I suggest that’s a good thing?

We might wish we were somewhere else.

We maybe should be somewhere else.

But here is where I am, whether I like it or not.

In 2017;

in this political climate;

in this stage of my life;

with this set of circumstances.

With this set of problems;

With these faults;

With these things which bring joy

With these things that could cause me great embarrassment;

With these mistakes.

 I’m here.

Here is the only place I can begin.



Just as I am.

But I don’t need to be anywhere else to start.

I don’t have to get myself somewhere else.

For here is where God has come to meet me.

To meet you.

Just where I am.

Just where you are.

That’s not to say there can’t be places or moments where we will feel God closer to us than others. There are places where we can set aside time and be aware of God’s presence. One of the places we are invited to us do this is here at the table, where we remember that when we were still far from God, he came looking for us, asking ‘where are you’

But we are also invited to recognise that God is with us wherever we are. God has been there all along, even when were too distracted, groggy, sick or immature to notice.

As I draw to a close I want to share with you a very short prayer, which can, if we use it, help us to re-set, to become aware of God’s presence. At any point.

Here I am, Lord

Here you are, Lord

Here we are together.

It’s a simple prayer.

It takes less than 15 seconds. We can utter those words, even in a whisper, on the way to that meeting, as we sit with that person whom we long to help, on that journey, wherever we happen to be found.

Here I am, Lord

Here you are, Lord

Here we are together.

With those words we welcome God into whatever we are doing.

We ask him to awaken us to where we are, and to the presence of the God who is with us wherever we are.

The one from whose presence we cannot flee.

It reminds us that we don’t have to be anywhere else to meet with God.

Perhaps we wish we were somewhere else.

Perhaps we ought to be somewhere else.

But here is where we are.

And we don’t need to be anywhere else.

For here is where God has come to meet us.

Here is the place we begin

And begin again.




This site contains the text of sermons I preach at Harrow Baptist Church. These are just the scripts I speak from, so it may not be precisely what is said and will include all the typos etc in my script.

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