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Archive for September, 2016

Creation: SKY

Sept. 25, 2016

Readings:  Jeremiah 4:23-28  Psalm 19    Philippians 2:14-18   Mark 15:33-39

sky-and-clouds

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day makes utterance, night to night speaks out. There is no utterance, there are no words, whose sound goes unheard. Their shout carries throughout the earth, their words to the end of the world.”[1]

Sky. Psalm 19 is a poetic and powerful witness to God’s creative majesty and God’s creative word. “Pay attention!” the poet shouts to us. Look up!  See these heavens? They proclaim the glory of God. Those fluffy white clouds that drift and flow with the wind, those clouds that arrange themselves into creative shapes, those clouds have voices. All their voices praise the God who created them, who set them free to roam the heavens.

This morning, I have three images to share with you.

sky-with-cloudsImage #1. This summer, I sat in a window seat of an airplane, 30,000 feet above the earth. As I looked out, all I could see below the airplane wings was clouds.Fluffy, white clouds in a brilliant, blue sky. It suddenly occurred to me that had I not known where I was—that is, buckled into the seat of a 737 airplane, en route to BWI, I might now have been able to tell you that I was ABOVE the clouds. Without being able to see the ground, I could just as easily have been looking UP as DOWN. I must admit that it was a bit unnerving to think about this possibility—and glad the pilot and co-pilots were more skilled than I!

rocky-coastline-maineImage #2. Another afternoon this summer, I lay back on a blanket on a flat surface of some rocky cliffs. As I watched fluffy, white clouds move slowly across the blue sky, all that was in my vision—if I looked straight up—was the sky. Had I not turned my head to the right and seen the row of tall spruce trees there, or turned my head to the left and watched the waves that crashed against the rocky shoreline, I would have had no way to orient myself. (more…)

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Creation: HUMANITY

Readings:  Genesis 1:26-28          Psalm 8           Philippians 2:1-8           Mark 10:35-45

Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 2:15:  “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.”            

A photo by NASA. unsplash.com/photos/rTZW4f02zY8Two Sundays ago, the theme of our first Creation series was EARTH. In Week #1, you may remember that I made a couple of points. The first was that the Genesis story is not a logical, scientific account of what happened in the beginning of time. Instead, Genesis was intended God’s people engaging in theological reflection,with God as the subject. God as the first cause.

I noted that there were at least three implications of the Creation story for you and me. First, I said God challenges us to recognize and acknowledge that God is the first cause of all life that we know: Light and darkness.  Sky, sea and earth. Fruits and vegetables. Daylights and nightlights.  Birds and sea creatures. Cattle, creeping things and wild animals.  Human beings.

worship

The second implication was that IF God is the first cause of all creation—from night and day to human beings—then our best and highest response to God is worship and adoration. We exist as created beings to worship the Holy One who created the world and all that is in it. Coming to church may have other benefits, such as socializing with friends or Sunday School for our children. However, the foremost and deepest reason we come to church is to worship God, the loving Holy One who created us. In the face of such a mystery, we kneel, give thanks, put our hands out to receive bread and wine that represent God to us through Jesus Christ.In response to what is in our hands, we say, AMEN.

There is a third implication, however, and I left that one for this week. It is this:  If we acknowledge God as first in importance in our lives and in the world, then this begs the question of how you and I take care of God’s created order.

(more…)

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Creation: EARTH

Sermon #1 in a Creation Season series

Genesis 1:1-25     Psalm 33:1-9

prospect-hill-b-bThis summer, Pat and I stayed at a historic bed and breakfast in East Tennessee. This 1889 house features amazing windows. They are made of “historic stained and colored glass.” In addition, the old house features handmade moldings and site-formed bricks, crowned by a metal shingle roof that is a close approximation of the original one.”[1]  In our room, the two windows—tall, with very old, wavy glass—were topped with palladium shaped windows that were a lovely shade of rose. At sunset, I happened to look up from my book. As the sun set, the leaves and branches of a large tree outside the window created an intricate, dark, lace etching against the glass. The background of that delicate etching gradually deepened; pale rose to deep rose. Crimson, then purple. Finally. . .darkness. The beauty of God’s creation was exquisite that evening. Too exquisite to capture with any cell phone or camera.

Not until you sit still and pay attention to a setting sun—or a rising full moon—do you realize how amazing God’s creation is.

Whether creation happened gradually over millennia, or in one burst of cosmic energy, we cannot know. What we do know is this: God speaks.  God creates. God asks human beings to worship God.

One of the ways I prepare for preaching is to look carefully at the biblical passage upon which I plan to preach. I look at the context in which that scripture was originally written. (more…)

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