Tag Archives: Creator God


A Sermon for 16 June 2019 – Trinity Sunday

It’s Trinity Sunday. A day filled with hymns that declare the amazing work of the Godhead. Holy, Holy, Holy is our LORD God Almighty! All creatures of our God and King! This day is a day too to hear beautiful words from Scripture that proclaim the awesome nature of God. I mean, did you hear those words from Psalm 8?! “O LORD: how majestic is your name in all the earth!” How could we do anything but fall absolutely in love with the Creator as we look upon the grandeur of this world? When we gaze up into the night sky – noticing the twinkle of millions of tiny lights that would take millions of years to walk to! When we look at the ground – like how is it possible that we can take tiny seeds that within themselves are a brilliant, beautiful work of art. We put them in the soil, or a songbird just drops them somewhere. The sun shines, the rain falls. The ground gives way. Before we know it, tomatoes are popping out everywhere. Basil is filling the sweet summer air. Even while we’re caught up in the beauty that surrounds, other little marvels are toddling all around us. These human bodies in which we live are sheer miracles. Do you know that when I broke the bone in my foot a few months ago, a very accomplished doctor with a very impressive education working for a well-respected medical group told me that now that the bone (that had been giving me some trouble for a while) finally broke, the body will heal it and build it back even stronger. Sure it’s taking time and there are factors that can impede the process, but I couldn’t believe I waited all that time to have some fancy surgeon tell me the truth of these incredible bodies in which we get to live: it knows how to heal itself! Despite the aches and pains we encounter as we age – indeed, with the Psalmist we can proclaim: O what are human beings, LORD, that you care for us?!

As Christians we believe Christ to be a part of the Triune Godhead that we celebrate on Trinity Sunday. It’s what makes us different from Jews and Unitarians and a whole lot of really spiritually mature people. In Christ, we believe we hear the words of God speaking to us, as Jesus did in that beautiful sermon he gave to his disciples the night before he would die. He promised: “I will not leave you orphaned” (John 14:18). God loves us so much, because, after all, God is Love. And as Love, God never, ever, ever is willing to be separated from us. We are God’s, Jesus declares in the portion of the great farewell discourse that we hear from the gospel of John today. That means that even if it feels like the rest of the world has abandoned us. Even if it feels like no one else accepts us. Even if it feels like we are in this all alone, we are not. God is like that tenacious father we hear of in Jesus’ parable of the lost – or prodigal – sons. One who never gives up. One who is proud to welcome us home, no matter what a mess our lives have become.

Trinity Sunday ends up being a day in the church when preachers around the world try to do the impossible: we try to use words to speak about God. To describe God. To explain the very nature of the Godhead that we proclaim through the doctrine of the Trinity. Though clearly spelled out nowhere in the bible, tradition settled on words like Father, Son, Holy Ghost to describe the relatedness of the Triune God. Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer often are heard as a way to capture the function of each persona of the three-and-one God. This week, I read words written by The Rev. Jacqui Lewis who tried to describe her vision of God. Admittedly, I’ve never thought about God in the same way that this powerhouse head pastor from New York City’s Middle Collegiate Church describes God. And I’m still letting her explanation of God sink into my soul to see how it might resonate. Even as I remember that Rev. Lewis speaks from and for the context in which she ministers which is a multiracial, fully inclusive congregation whose purpose is “to heal souls and the world because they believe faith is about Love. Period” (https://sojo.net/biography/jacqui-lewis). Quoted in Richard Rohr’s daily devotional, which some of you also may have read on Thursday; Rev. Lewis describes what she sees when she imagines God. She writes: “My God is a curvy black woman with dreadlocks and dark, cocoa-brown skin. She laughs from her belly and is unashamed to cry. She can rock a whole world to sleep, singing in her contralto voice. Her sighs breathe life into humanity. Her heartbreaks cause eruptions of justice and love” (Center for Action and Contemplation, Richard Rohr Meditation: She Is Love, 13 June 2019). Rev. Lewis claims that we know God is a mystery. She writes: “We don’t know everything about (God). So out of our imaginations and our yearnings, our hopes and our fears, we make stuff up. At our best,” Rev. Lewis writes, “we project goodness, power, kindness, and love unto God. At our worst, we create a God who is punitive, angry, judgmental, and harsh. (Lewis says) We do this because we are those things, and we think they make us safe” (Ibid.).

I would argue that we can find it all in our Holy Scriptures – so many different ways our ancestors in the faith were inspired to use words to attempt to describe what we experience of this amazing Force. This incredible Love. This grand Designer we call God before whose awesomeness we humbly bow. Everything from Good Shepherd to Sheltering Eagle to Righteous Judge to Mother Hen to Solid Rock on which to stand is used in Scripture to speak of God. A plethora of images for just about every need in which we humans will find ourselves. The One – the Force – the Energy – the Love, whichever word best describes God for you – who from the beginning was Triune. Which might just be our attempt to give language – a doctrine, an explanation to the God of the Universe who is relationship itself. And if all this Triune talk. If all this trying to speak of God who took on our flesh and blood to be our Way, our Truth, our Life. If all this trying to speak of the Mystery of Three co-existing as One is too much for our little minds to comprehend, then how about we just listen. Listen for the beauty of how the wisdom writer of Proverbs gave expression to the Divine. Hear God’s word to us in this final Trinity Sunday reading from Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 (NRSV).

“Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth –when God had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When God established the heavens, I was there, when God drew a circle on the face of the deep, when God made firm the skies above, when God established the fountains of the deep, when God assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress God’s command, when God marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside God, like a master worker; and I was daily God’s delight, rejoicing before God always, rejoicing in God’s inhabited world and delighting in the human race.”

What else might we attempt to say about God today? Other than this wisdom text may never have been a reading we’d have known had not the council that created the Revised Common Lectionary decided it must be included every third Trinity Sunday. One biblical commentator writes of these words, “First, the image of Wisdom as God’s helper reminds us of the reciprocity of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit giving and receiving within the very being of God” (Feasting on the Word, Yr. C, Vol. 3, Jeff Paschal, p. 31). Acting and resting, I would add. Doing and stopping just to behold. The balance of energies that allow the flow. That show us how to be as well. That same biblical commentator goes on to write: “Even more, the description of Wisdom in verses 24 and 25 – ‘brought forth’ (whirling, dancing) – calls to mind the Eastern Church’s emphasis on the Trinity as perichoresis, literally, ‘dancing around’” (Ibid.). In great wisdom the biblical commentator writes: “So we do not worship a stingy God who grudgingly gives gifts and who grants forgiveness as a divine grump” – another way, I would add, that so many seem to imagine God. “Not at all,” writes the commentator, “The triune God is a joyous, dancing God who pours out overflowing gifts to humanity with gladness!” (Ibid.). What a beautiful way to see God in our lives – a way so many of us have experienced even as we have read of in Jesus, the Christ, who lives among us as God! When we experience joy, we know God. When we live free – free enough to dance – we know God. When we take stock of all the gifts that overflow to us, we know God. When we love, we know God. The Triune God whom we trust and worship and serve!

Trinity Sunday is a day to celebrate God, the Mystery who keeps on giving and receiving and giving for all Life to prevail! With grateful hearts, may we ever rejoice in the God who is One, and three. Three and One, dancing around in an endless, unblocked outpouring of Love. Celebrating the inhabited world. Delighting in the whole human race!

In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.

© Copyright JMN – 2019 (All rights reserved.)


“What a Wonder!”

A Sermon for 18 October 2015

A reading from Job 38:1-33, 40:1-5. I’ll be reading this poetic piece of Scripture from the version of the bible called The Message. It’s helpful to remember that earlier in the story, Job has lost everything. He’s beginning to ask why – and as the text indicates, Job’s not just wondering, but actually accusing or blaming God for the state of suffering he’s in. At long last, God speaks. Listen for God’s word to us.

“And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. And God said: “Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, and said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’ And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’ Told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’ so you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches? As the sun brings everything to light, brings out all the colors and shapes, the cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked – they’re caught in the very act! Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean? Do you know the first thing about death? Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries? And do you have any idea how large this earth is? Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer. Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives so you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost? Why, of course you know that. You’ve known them all your life, grown up in the same neighborhood with them! Have you ever traveled to where snow is made, seen the vault where hail is stockpiled, the arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness for times of trouble and battle and war? Can you find your way to where lightning is launched, or to the place from which the wind blows? Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the route of thunderstorms that bring water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever lays eyes on, drenching the useless wastelands so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass? And who do you think is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost? You don’t for a minute imagine these marvels of weather just happen, do you? Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters, or distract Orion from his hunt? Can you get Venus to look your way, or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play? Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth?” . . . God then confronted Job directly: “Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?” Job answered: “I’m speechless, in awe – words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to (be quiet) and listen.””

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

A reading from Psalm 104:1-13, 24, 33-34, 35 c. I again will be reading this beautiful poetry of the Psalms from the version of the bible called The Message. Listen for God’s word to us.

“O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are! Beautifully, gloriously robed, dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps, made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings. You commandeered winds as messengers, appointed fire and flame as ambassadors. You set earth on a firm foundation so that nothing can shake it, ever. You blanketed earth with ocean, covered the mountains with deep waters; then you roared and the water ran away – your thunder-crash put it to flight. Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out in the places you assigned them. You set boundaries between earth and sea; never again will earth be flooded. You started the springs and rivers, sent them flowing among the hills. All the wild animals now drink their fill, wild donkeys quench their thirst. Along the riverbanks the birds build nests, ravens make their voices heard. You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns; earth is supplied with plenty of water. . . . What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. . . . Oh, let me sing to God all my life long, sing hymns to my God as long as I live! Oh, let my song please God; I’m so pleased to be singing to God. . . . O my soul, bless God!”

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

Well, we had a wonderful time at NaCoMe. I think it’s safe to use the past tense, as I’m pretty sure everyone’s packed up and making the trek back home by now. I left after closing worship there this morning in order to be back here with ya’ll. And how is it possible it wouldn’t have been a great time? I mean, if you’re up for staying overnight away from home, you get to spend the weekend with wonderful people of this congregation in a whole different setting than the sanctuary. It’s fun to just sit back in the rockers on the cabin’s porch to catch up with each other. To swop stories and laugh and just enjoy unhurried time together, which we don’t get enough of in our lives these days. You get to know each other on a whole other level at NaCoMe.

And what a setting! If you’ve ever been to NaCoMe, then you know. It’s far off the beaten path. You drive about 60 miles out of the city, go around the round-about in Centerville, then drive another 15 or so miles into nowhere. Take a right onto a narrow road, then down the hill and around the bend through a canopy of trees that seems to rake the stress from your shoulders as you pass under their branches. Ah. You can breathe in fresh air – frigid air the two nights we were there this weekend – but we managed to stay warm, around a big old bonfire last night. It’s just the beginning of the time for the leaves to change their colors for fall, so the setting is extra beautiful. With a little creek running right down the middle of camp. A labyrinth path of stones for contemplating God in your life. And trails through the woods where you can wander in the quiet for hours. You park your car and don’t have to move it again until you have to get in to come on back to the frenetic pace of the real world. It’s a marvelous setting during the day! And then the nights! The nights put it all into perspective. It’s dark, dark out there in those woods. Last year the electricity went out one night so that the artificial lights all were off. As long as the clouds cooperate, there’s nothing to get in the way of seeing the light of a zillion stars popping out of the pitch-black darkness of night in the country. The text from Job talks about the Pleiades sisters and Orion. Venus peeking your way and the Great Bear and her cubs coming out to play (Job 38:31-32). NaCoMe at night is an amazing spot for gazing at the constellations of the sky. Realizing, even if we’re not necessarily comfortable with it in our own lives, our earth turns us outward into the unknown once every twenty-four hours. NaCoMe’s a perfect place to ponder our most magnificent Creator. The One who lives in it all – this glorious world – and miraculously chooses to turn special attention to us.

Now, I realize it’s not entirely fair to paint a picture of NaCoMe for you. After all, most all of you are ones who didn’t get to go – either by choice or by circumstance. You’ve missed the beauty of being steeped in NaCoMe’s natural world this weekend. The bliss of being surrounded by the healing powers of our mother earth. But don’t worry! We don’t have to travel out into the middle of nowhere to commune in God’s incredible creation. The Psalmist reminds us – not just here in chapter 104 – but also in chapter 24 where it reads: “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Ps. 24:1). We live IN God’s world – we live in this earth – in this amazing cosmos. Every day. Not just on special occasions at NaCoMe or some other beautiful natural setting. But each day of our everyday lives.

I’ll never forget the time I lived in a second floor apartment overlooking a dreary parking lot with a dumpster-view from my balcony. It was depressing – and smelly every now and again.   To make matters worse, an overgrown pine tree was alongside my corner apartment. The sun didn’t have a chance to peek through the few windows the apartment did have! I was all alone in a city I didn’t like, for a job that wasn’t great, in a gloomy apartment that never did feel quite like home. All might have been lost if I hadn’t gotten my first bird feeder. I still don’t remember what possessed me to try to feed birds from a depressing second story apartment but I do remember hours of comfort from the little feathered-friends that arrived. I was told by a sister that my birds were just common sparrows. Why bother feeding them? They don’t have the beautiful colors of gold finches or the interesting habits of wood peckers. I took comfort in the fact that Jesus had something to say about common little birds, though the saying never made much sense before my balcony birdfeeder attracted tons of the everyday little creatures. “Look at the birds of the air;” Jesus insisted. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26). It didn’t take some far away setting out in the woods to come to appreciate our amazing Creator – right there in that dreary little apartment overlooking the concrete jungle of that parking lot, the beauty of God’s world came to me. The reminder that even without my feeble feeding efforts, those little birds were provided with every last thing they needed to live. The wonder of our incredible Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer was the song those common little birds sang. . . . Be it in a flower pushing up through a sidewalk crack, a streak of pink in the setting sun, or just one blade of grass that makes its own unique path into the sky, all of it proclaims our Life-giving Creator. Whether we have eyes to see it and minds to appreciate it or not; all of it sings of God’s goodness.

Julian of Norwich, a Fourteenth Century mystic who once experienced a deep revelation of God’s love then spent the rest of her life coming to terms with the marvelous showing. Julian is quoted as writing that “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything” (from Meditations with Julian of Norwich). I pondered that a bit yesterday at NaCoMe’s upper lake. The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. In you and me and everyone. And in the changing trees, and rippling water, and white tailed deer all over NaCoMe too. The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. . . . Isn’t that what the Psalmist proclaims – right alongside the voice attributed to God in Job? . . . What happens to us – in our souls – when we sit and watch even the simplest, most common bird? What can happen as we gaze out into the dark night to see first one, then two, then ten and twenty and one hundred of the most awe-inspiring stars? When we listen to the crashing waves of the ocean, or maybe just the flowing babble of the creek out back. What if we let the gentle breeze tickle our cheeks and the sunlight warm our faces? Consider the vast variety of animals, not to mention all the bugs and birds and fish swimming in water throughout this earth. Just to be in it – whether it be sitting a spell out in the courtyard between the two buildings, in whatever you call your backyard, or somewhere special like NaCoMe – just to be in God’s grand creation, knowing we’re a part of it too. Don’t you feel a little spark of joy begin inside? A bit of peace spreading in your soul? To behold God in it all – to know God through it all, isn’t that a true gift?

I urge us all to take a moment this afternoon. Even just five minutes of this day to behold God’s beautiful world. To see God through it all. . . . Ah what a wonder! What joy we each can know by this amazing world in which we live. . . . The earth is full of God’s wonderful creations. Our whole lives long, let us bless the LORD. Let us give all thanks and praise unto God!

In the name of the Life-giving Father, the Life-redeeming Son, and the Life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.

© Copyright JMN – 2015  (All rights reserved.)