Monthly Archives: October 2007

10-28-07 GOD: CREATOR

GOD: CREATOR

Genesis 1: 1-12; John 1: 1-14

 

Today let me let you hear something that I’ve only told to a few: there is a program that soothes me for a half and hour if I’m home for a late lunch that drives my artistic wife crazy.  Now I know you’re thinking its Andy Griffith. No; I like Andy when I need to find my smile again. But I like Bob Ross, and “The Joy of Painting.” There, I said it. Perhaps I should join a support group of some sort!  But what is in the head of the man with the paintbrush? Why, he gets to take a blank canvas, add any colors of the rainbow or mixtures of hues, and he, in thirty minutes, creates something out of nothing. Of course, it is not the way God did it; God really created something out of nothing! Bob Ross is more like an editor, isn’t he? The entire pallet of his mind is the nature that God has already created; if it was a painting on a computer screen, he could simply click on a tree and drag it over; or on a mountain or a brook and drag it over. But he looks at a canvas and still gets to decide what will be painted on it, and what scene will come to life before the viewer’s eyes. It’s just that Ross creates a picture from the images in his mind. But creating something from truly nothing: that magnificent, glorious, vast, and humanly overwhelming task belongs to the Holy One we call Creator. God looked into the nothingness, the “void” as it is sometimes called, and had to decide EVERYTHING!  And what was God’s paintbrush: the Word!  With a Word, remember:  “God said,” there shall be brightness to be called “light;” and darkness to be called “night.” Did you notice that, because God can do what God wants to do, night and day were created even before the sun and the moon? Interesting ….  How long do you think it took to decide what to call “day” and “night” and how to divide them? It boggles the human mind, but we are told, perhaps in comforting human terms, that it took a day. Wow! That’s either exact or a metaphor, but we will always come back to Scripture’s caution “With God, nothing is impossible!” Then God, with a word, called forth the colors of blue with white clouds, and gray with black clouds, and called them “sky.” And looking at our planet that perhaps did not yet have water, God named a liquid that gives us life and beauty “water,” and let its color be clear so that it could, a little like humans, reflect and refract God’s creation around it.  What genius! Day two. And you think your days are full! Did you catch the sense that creation, when properly seen, can cause awe and celebration?  Mary Ann and I, who were originally from the north, marveled at our children’s reaction to seeing snow for the first time! What was it like for the Apollo 11 crew to touch and see the moon up close with their own eyes for the first time? What is it like when a mother or father sees their baby, their creation in a matter of speaking, for the first time? These experiences are new and powerful! And you may have experienced a child’s squeals of delight upon seeing a squirrel in her backyard for the first time, or the yearning a child has when passing a pet store window!  At Creation on the third day, God continued to create a playground for us, and it was one without the need for human concession stands. There were apples and nuts; brooks of water and bunches of grapes; there were animals that gave milk and some with fur that could be cut to keep us warm. What a giving God we have! God finished out the creation week with things we love and on which we depend: earth and the sea, plant life and fruit; trees and seeds; seasons that bring warmth and cold and rain and snow and sometimes colorful leaves; and so we wouldn’t have to invent flashlights (even though we did), God gave us the sun as a bright light for when we would most naturally work, and a night light called the moon for when our bodies would naturally want to sleep and the plants could collect needed moisture. What an ecosystem! Then came the day when God got to play the most: a day of naming amazing long necked yellow animals, “Giraffes;” large, trunked gray animals “elephants,” huge water creatures called “whales” that weighed a fraction of their land weight because they were in the sea; and then God created other strange creatures: purposeful to the Creator, later questionable in the mind of the public: hornets, piranha, fire ants, the duckbilled platypus, the gooney bird, and the like.  We’ll have to ask God about those when we get to live above the dome, so to speak! And you’ll notice that the first blessing of the Bible is not on people, it is on God’s creatures. As the verse veterinarian James Herriot loved to quote says: “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small; all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all!”

 

But then came God’s most complex creation: beings that in some ways reflected the nature of their Creator. The Bible text is quite interesting at that point: let us make humankind in our image” it says in verse 26.  Was God talking like a nurse in a doctor’s office who once asked me, “And how are we feeling today?” “We? I don’t know about you, but I feel lousy and that’s why I’m here!” I once replied in a not too polite and cranky kind of way. Why does God speak in the plural? Some have suggested, thanks to the powerful reminder in John chapter one, that the Living Word traditionally known as the “Son” or the “Redeemer” was also in the Godhead, along with the “Ruach” or “Spirit” that was also present (claim Trinitarian scholars). Others have noted that since God is eternal, like a ring, rather than with a beginning, like a starting line, God had other heavenly beings that were consulted: perhaps angels, perhaps of both genders, that pleased God and encouraged the Creator to make mortals in similar pleasing forms that inhabited divine space.  Again make your list to ask when you cross over to the other side! This magnificent creation story doesn’t explain itself, but leaves us to abide in its wonder and, yes, its mysteries!  So, perhaps in the likeness of angelic beings, God created ones like the ones that already were pleasing: male and female they were called. And to these beings (not creatures) God actually spoke; and remember, it was through speaking (voice and breath) that God brought life to what we call Earth.

 

Finally God, in a divine act of CPR, created eternally interesting bodies and then breathed life into them and chose to abide with them in a spiritual way.  Only later, we find out in John, does God unselfishly come down in a mortal body, to empathize with, hurt with, laugh with, and suffer with us. But God uniquely kept a foot in what was divine, and another in what was mortal so God could experience how we hurt, why we sin, and why we fall. In speaking to humans initially, God gave instructions saying they were to be caretakers of the earth and the creatures and (perhaps implied) of one another.  Human failings were better addressed in the second creation story in chapter 2. But isn’t it likely that life on and care for the Earth has not gone anything like life in and care of Heaven must be like?  Certainly Heaven is not falling apart or being corrupted by dirt, pollution, or sin?  But here we have responsibilities.  I have gone back to children’s playgrounds I enjoyed as a child and been proud of how well some of them had been kept, and saddened by the sight of others. I have gone back to houses where I used to live and felt the same way. Does the home called Planet Earth need a little TLC? We are the managers of these apartments that we named North America, South America Europe, Asia, Antarctica, and the rest. Back in 1854, a Native American named Chief Seattle said these words to President Pierce: “One thing we know which the white man may one day discover- our God is the same God. You may think, now, that you own him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator… Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.”  And in 1937, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “the Genesis account [argues] that we are ‘a piece of the earth’ …. [And] the essential point of human existence is its bond with mother earth, its being and its body.”

 

Friends. today we have been reminded of the precious playground we have been given; a place where animals, plants, and people are meant to live. And the only one capable of sinning is the one for whom a Savior was sent; for we- you and I and our forebears- are the ones who are to care for, protect, and farm the earth. God’s weeps in wrath over arsonists who destroy acres of forests; and over melting ice caps that make some places too warm or too wet for habitation; and over skies that get clogged with smoke and lakes that get polluted with sewage.  But as much as that affects the Holy Heart, God seems to spend the most time attending to the fickle and the funny; the philandering and sometimes faithful human beings who were made in the image of what was Heavenly.  Awesome; God cares that much, showing us how to care. May we reflect our Creator’s care with what, and who, has been entrusted to our care. In the first book of Scripture for Christians and Jews, God looked at a black canvas, and with the paintbrush of the word, began to create. It was very good. With our renewed care, it still can be so.

 

Jeffrey A. Sumner                                                           October 28, 2007

10-21-07 THE WORD OF GOD CALLED SCRIPTURE

THE USE OF SCRIPTURE

2 Kings 22-3- 23:3; 2 Timothy 3:10 – 4:5

 

In our church library, which in its present form is 21 years old this month, many copies of the Bible are catalogued. There are also children’s Bibles, commentaries on the Bible, concordances for the Bible, a 20 volume series set of sermons based on the Bible, dictionaries of the Bible and, well, you get the picture.  From Mary Ann Sumner’s recent note and from the Abingdon Bible Commentary, we learn that the word “Bible” means “Library,” but for many growing up it has just been “the Good Book.” In Jesse Lyman Hurlbut’s classic book, the Story of the Bible for Young and Old, Dr. Hurlbut’s grown son, Charles, provided these memories in the forward to his father’s book: “One of the earliest recollections of my childhood is sitting with a group of other children, with my father in the center, and a huge Bible on the table in front of us…. My father … was a wonderful storyteller; so nothing thrilled us more than to sit on his knees to hear him tell the stories as he turned the pages….My father learned the language that holds a child’s attention and the way to make a story real to him….[and he finally put his great storytelling down in a book.]It was his hope that the reader would find in it not only stories from the Bible, but also THE STORY OF THE BIBLE in one narration.” [Zondervan, 1967, p. vii]

 

So the Bible, to us, is not just a library of books, it is also a book, and more importantly, the book.  It is important enough that we call it “Scripture,” even though the word “‘scripture’ is simply the Latin rendering of the Greek word for ‘writing.’” [ABINGDON HANDBOOK OF THE BIBLE, Abingdon Press, 1975, p. 17]  The Old Testament was almost certainly the exclusive Scripture about which the Apostle Paul spoke in all of his New Testament letters, for most scholars believe that the Gospel writers did not put pen to parchment until between 65 A.D. for Mark, 85 A.D. for Matthew, 70 A.D. up to 90 A.D. for Luke, and 90 – 95 A.D. for John.  If, according to the calendar, Jesus died in 33 A.D. what was the foundation on which the church began to be built in Galilee, in Greece, and in Asia Minor?  The church was built, and still stands, on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, on the confession by Simon Peter that he is messiah, on the solid rock of the words that Jesus taught, and on the evangelistic work of those who believed in and followed him. The church has always had it’s foundation on the Living Word, which is Jesus Christ. It has been instructed by the Written Word that we call the Bible, inspired by the Spoken Word in sermons, and welcomed and fed through the Visible Word of Baptism and Communion.  So we truly base our lives and beliefs on the unfailing Word of God.

 

But today we are talking about a text; a library, sacred writings, and all the other ways by which people refer to that giant family Bible on the coffee table, that pocket New Testament, that annotated study Bible on one’s desk, or that devotion Bible on one’s nightstand. Many own one; some read one. As Lloyd R. Bailey pointed out in his book called THE WORD OF GOD: “Persons have been saying for years that present-day people cannot understand the Bible since documents produced by members of a pre-industrial society some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago cannot be relevant today. How can such books have anything important to say to a society grappling with problems of urbanization, industrialization, technology, and our incredible capacity for inventiveness? And yet we have not invented a new sin in 2,000 years. Perhaps it is the very timeliness (or timelessness) of the message of the Scriptures which makes it so significant today.”  [John Knox Press, 1982, p. 14]  Do you remember what it was like to get your first Bible? I love books and still have mine that I got in the 3rd grade. Perhaps you got one then or when you became a Christian.  Do you remember your parents having a family Bible?  We treasure the stories and truths in that sacred book.  And even the Bible tells stories of corrupted people needing to get back on track. We see our sins in the events of Biblical stories. The Bible is a looking glass, or mirror, it is a lens and a magnifying glass, helping to focus on the parts of life that will heal our soul this week.

 

Once upon a time, according to Second Kings, like a family moving into a house and finding a treasure, (which happened in my grandparents town of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania two weeks ago where a new owner found a copy of Batman number 1 in the attic, a find worth thousands of dollars for nickel comic)  people were cleaning a ruined and filthy temple due to the poor leading of King Manasseh, who followed the sins of his grandfather, Ahaz, instead of the good deeds of his father, Hezekiah. Finally under the good but young rule of King Josiah, they were getting the temple back in shape to be fitting for the Lord. In their dig, they came across a book, probably in the form of some old scrolls, and their eyes were reminded of the power of timeless words being spoken in a new time.  Like the unexpected finds by scholars of the Nag Hammadi writings in Egypt in 1945, or the unexpected find of what are called the Dead Sea Scrolls by a shepherd boy in 1947, these finds have shed unimaginable light on the translations based on translations available up until the 1940s. Just like those scrolls changed today’s Biblical world, the “book” found in the Temple during Josiah’s reign gave a sense of revival and redirection for Judah.  The people, upon hearing the words of the sacred book, joined their king in making the promise to serve the Lord and do his will.  It was a time when God was pleased to be both honored and worshipped.  The finding of the book recorded in Second Kings, like an intentionally buried time capsule, was a find that seemed to have both mystery and power attached to it.

 

Likewise, in the New Testament, we were guided today to one older preacher teaching a younger one, named Timothy, the value of preaching by the “Book.”  The writer has known of Timothy’s faith as the son of a Greek Christian man and a Jewish woman who became Christian. He had been taught the sacred writings according to verse 15; he had been taught that if something is called “Scripture,” it has been called “sacred” or “holy” and is therefore inspired by God, that is, in the reading or preaching of those words, God’s Holy Spirit guides the preacher, the reader, and the hearer to new truths, to guide them in their daily decisions and struggles, according to verse 16. And so, in chapter 4 verse 2, Timothy is urged to preach the Word when he feels like it, and when he doesn’t. Some days preachers feel like preaching, some days they don’t. Some days people don’t feel like worshipping God, some days they do. I told our confirmation class this week that how I feel should be irrelevant; I will preach with energy, emphasis, and zeal as much as I am capable. Thus, it is irrelevant if they, or you, feel like worshipping God; we are here to do it!. And what I find is if I act as if I am energized, I end up being energized in the end. Praise God when you feel like it, and when you don’t! Preach the Word, Timothy is told, when it is a time to commemorate Jesus’ birth, and resurrection, and also at other times. “Preach the Word both in and out of season.” And, he is warned that, as has happened before (and because of human nature) there will still be times when people will stop listening to and following the Word. 

 

Today whether we together assess our world, or whether we assess your life, the decision is this: is our world in a time when it is listening better to God’s Word and the guidance that is there, or have the ears of the world become so filled with I-Tunes, cell phones, or commerce that few can hear the still small voice of God today? To be more specific, when people go off the road by either the distractions around them, the bad decisions by others near them, or the circumstances of the road in front of them, they get back on the road usually with the help of a tow truck.  The tow truck for most people whose lives have gone off the road is the Bible that points the way back to God through Jesus Christ. Prison ministries, 12 step programs, and many pastors pull people’s lives out of the ditch with the power of God’s Word.  There are poems in print that are helpful; and there are songs and hymns that lift people’s hearts; but it is Scripture that is God’s inspired way of leading us to know Jesus and his way, his forgiveness and his salvation. The sacred word has been passed down through the ages, written on the tablets of people’s hearts, written on parchment or paper, or now even in audio and Pod casting forms.  Chaplains in prisons change people’s lives with it; missionaries convert the world with it; college evangelists bring people to Christ with it. The world is being changed by giving them something that most of you already have: a Bible.  On your list of must reads, where does your Bible land?  Whether it is old or new, with pictures or with notes; whether it weighs 5 ounces or 5 pounds, you have a treasure that can be rediscovered in your castle. May pulling it off the shelf or the table and opening its sacred pages bring you alongside of the stories and teachings that, for 2000 years, have been called a treasure.

Jeffrey A. Sumner         October 21, 2007

 

 

 

10-14-07 REVELATION: OUR SELF-REVEALING GOD

REVELATION:  OUR SELF-REVEALING GOD

Exodus 3: 1-6; Romans 1: 14-23

 

A Sunday School teacher watched one of her young students intently drawing a picture on paper.  The boy was totally immersed in his work. “What are you drawing?” his teacher asked him.  “A picture of God,” he replied. “Oh,” she said kindly. Deciding to take it one step further, she said, “You know, nobody knows what God looks like,” to which the boy, never taking his eyes from his work, said, “They will now.”

 

If someone were to come up to you on the street one day and ask “Have you seen God lately?” what would you say?  That was the question I posed in my very first sermon in seminary on January 29, 1979.  It used today’s passage about God’s voice coming from a burning bush to Moses; and I used the Noah story to lift up God’s presence and promise through a rainbow.  Other texts on the topic of God’s appearing have been included in anthems, stories, and sermons.  In Deuteronomy we read, “You will seek the Lord your God and find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul.” (4:29). The CHRISTIAN BELIEVER writer put it this way: “Israel [could] find God because God had already found and chosen them.  Centuries later, when the people were captives in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah reassured them on God’s behalf, ‘When you search for me, you will find me’ (Jeremiah 29:13.)” And it was Isaiah who melodically implored the people of Judah to “Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.” (55:6) Today our texts suggest that if we haven’t found the Lord it’s because we don’t know where and how to look. As far as seeing God with our eyes, that’s a different story.   Let’s lift up three places where we can find God and God’s handiwork.

 

First, look for God in nature.  Can a sudden shower, or a sunrise or a sunset, or a rainbow or a storm be a spiritual moment? Yes; but when we are looking for God there we are less likely to see a face and more likely to find evidence. Some feel the majesty of God at the Grand Canyon or at Niagara or Teton Falls.  Can the growth of crops for farmers, or the birth of baby animals on farms or in nature remind you how to wonder, and how to marvel at all that God has created?  Even science, when one looks at the stars, or under powerful microscopes, looks at living cells, gives us glimpses in to the mysteries and powers of God.  Is frost on the ground the hem of a holy garment?  Are stars at night the jewels in the holy crown? Can earthquakes and tsunamis remind us of the power God could exert with one footstep? In the Bible God’s handiwork is revealed at creation, reiterated by the Psalmist, and in metaphors. God raises people up as on eagles’ wings in Isaiah; God is like the sun: generating light and warmth. And whenever God gives a prelude to the Old Covenant or the New, it is with water:  the Red Sea in the Exodus story, and the Jordan River at Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry. Finally, when God speaks with Moses on Mount Sinai to deliver the words on which Jews and Christians depend that we call the Ten Commandments, it was through a mass of lightning, clouds, and thunder. Moses is told not to look for God directly, as he is warned: “Mortals cannot see my face and live.” So God uses indirect ways of revealing holiness through nature.

 

Second, look for God in people. Though many times God speaks to us unconsciously, God also communicates to us through other people. There are times when I have prayed for an answer from God and it comes from the mouth of an acquaintance or even a stranger.  Several years ago, a woman named Barbara Hall was intrigued by the idea of God being with us, perhaps even appearing before us, and giving us answers in surprising ways. As with the Matthew 25 passage when disciples were puzzled by Jesus telling them that they had or had not fed him, given him something to drink, visited him when he was sick or in prison, or clothed him when he had no clothes, Barbara Hall created the television series, Joan of Arcadia, which was cancelled too soon. In it Joan built a relationship with and talked with and listened to God, but not like Moses did. God appeared in the form of a boy in class, a lunch lady, a homeless man, a janitor, and the list went on. Joan never knew when God was watching, what form God would take or what God was going to say to guide her in her moments of teenage angst. I think it was worth watching, if for no other reason than to remind us that not only is God watching us, we might, indeed, see God in other people. Films, such as “Oh God!” and “Evan Almighty” have unpacked the idea of talking with and having God watch us from up close. The God of the heavens, after all, came to earth as a human being. Is there anything too difficult for the Lord? Is there any length to which God will not go to try to reach and guide us, if we just have the eyes to see, and the ears to hear? Last week I even mentioned that in Luke 24, disciples, who should have known what Jesus looked like, did not recognize the risen Lord until he broke bread in their home.  Sometimes, perhaps, our Lord Jesus keeps us from recognizing his face in the crowds. But other times, if we look, we might see the face of Jesus.

 

Finally, look for God, like the Sunday School boy, through the eyes of faith. We learned last week that when evidence of something is brought forth, faith is no longer needed. So we live by faith, and not by sight. Even if we can’t see the wind, we can see ripples across a lake to let us know that wind is present. Just as Jesus called his Heavenly Father “Abba” or daddy, the name a child might call his father, so faith calls for child-like trust in God. That kind of trust is exemplified in the little book MISTER GOD, THIS IS ANNA, a true story of a young man named Fynn who finds a little girl named Anna.  One day the four year old explained God to the man like this:

“You see, Fynn, Mister God is different from us because he can finish things that we can’t. I can’t finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and it’s not the same kind of love, is it?” [Fynn gulped to answer but she went on.] “Fynn, what is the word for when you see something in a different way?” After a minute or two of scrabbling about, the precise phrase she wanted was dredged out of me: point of view.  “Fynn, that’s the difference.” [A little further questioning cleared up what she meant: Humanity in general had an infinite number of points of view, whereas Mister God had an infinite number of viewing points. [That meant, Finn deciphered, that God was everywhere.] Anna burst into peals of laughter. “You see?” she asked. “You see?” I did too.

[Ballantine Books, New York, 1974, pp. 27-28]” Anna’s story is true. She was only four years old when Fynn found her on London’s fog-shrouded docks. He took her back to his mother’s home, and from that first moment their times together were filled with delight and discovery.

 

Delight and discovery; I had with a group of women and children yesterday. God wants it for us as- through nature, faith, and other people- he makes his playful and his guiding sides known. God is here; for us and with us. Don’t let a word, or a glance, or a whisper confound you. Listen for God to guide and bless your life.               

 

Jeffrey A. Sumner                                                           October 14, 2007

10-07-07 BELIEVING

BELIEVING

Job 42: 1-6; John 20: 24-26

 

Today we have heard an example of unwavering faith in the Old Testament and an example of classic doubt in the New. Job and Thomas; bookends for a row of volumes with entirely different content: one with trust, one with proof; one with faith, one with science.  Somewhere in the middle, I suspect, is where many people live. There are, of course, some with unwavering faith, “like a rock.” There are also some with shaky or little belief that quiver like a feather in the wind. We are leaving out the supposed total non-believers from this debate for now.  The CHRISTIAN BELIEVER text states it this way: “To be human is to be a believer. We differ in what we believe, and in the intensity of beliefs, but we insist on believing in something. Life simply cannot exist without some such basis. These beliefs become the set of sails that determine the direction of our lives and our destination [along with] the nature and quality of our journey.” (p.9)  Today we are briefly addressing the idea of believing in God, or if one is a Christian, believing in Jesus Christ as Savior.  The Apostles’ Creed, which you are invited to profess in a few minutes, is what theologian Helmut Thielicke once described as “The Super-steep wall of faith.” About it he writes in his book titled I BELIEVE: “I admit that reciting the Apostles’ Creed in the service is somewhat of an annoyance to me. I am somewhat troubled by the fact that [it] seems to almost diffuse an atmosphere of misunderstanding…. [Some wonder if we’re allowed to join the man in the gospel who said to the Lord Jesus; ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’]  I am not very happy [that] the people for whom the promises of faith were intended suddenly grow faint and lapse into silence [in certain parts of the creed.]”  [1968, Fortress Press, p. xii.]  So can we, like Thomas, and dare I say even Job, choose what we believe, and affirm parts of the faith, and not fully understand or, dare I say, doubt other parts? When a candidate for ministry at our last Presbytery meeting was asked if she affirmed the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, she paused and answered “I affirm it, though confess I do not completely understand it.”  And so we stand in a great line of saints in the faith from Cyril to Augustine, from Anselm to Aquinas, from Calvin to Zwingli, who, by their own confessions, admitted that God Almighty, was part of a MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM, and that the teachings of Scripture were sometimes hard to understand, hard to believe, and even harder to live.  Believing in a God that science cannot prove; believing in a Savior whose death on a cross 2000 years ago wonderfully and powerfully changes lives today; believing that a chosen young woman named Mary complied with an extraordinary heavenly request to start the holy presence on earth; and believing in a God who is not an absentee landlord but one present even now through one called the Holy Spirit, can make a believer a laughingstock among skeptics and can send skeptics smugly back into their corners of disbelief.  But reluctant people like Moses and Zechariah and Mary were visited by Heavenly voices of visitors; they were not looking for greatness. Intelligent people like Joseph of Arimathea gave away his entire family’s burial plot to Jesus because something about the Savior changed his heart. A woman at a well evangelized her entire village after Jesus spoke to and counseled her. And a man possessed by a demon who was healed by Jesus soon became enthusiastic enough for Christ that his whole community was converted even before the Savior returned. Story after story is told about lives that are changed by those who came to believe.  But as Job found out, believers can and will be tested by scoffers.  As Thomas found out, God sometimes will bless those who see and believe, but God grows faith in the hearts of those who believe without the benefit of seeing or proving. Once proof is evident, faith dissipates. What use is faith in the light of proof? So our elusive belief system pours out its blessings on those who live by faith and not by sight.  What a challenge that is; but what untold joys are being held for faithful souls.

 

Today Reformers like John Calvin, in pouring over all the accounts of the gospels, found evidence, for example in Luke 24, of Jesus being really present with, but not evident to, believers in the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup. For us, if we actually saw our Lord, we might box him into humanness: “That’s what he looks like? I thought he’d look different from that!” some might say. In Godly wisdom, Jesus is kept from appearing, but his presence, like wind that is felt but not seen, surrounds his disciples wherever they are. We are here in his name; he is among us. Let us prepare our hearts for the humble news that the risen Lord, who rules on high because he was made worthy, invites one as human as you, and as me, to share this meal which he has prepared.  He is overjoyed to have this time with us; may you find the joy that is perhaps even dormant in your heart, and tell him in prayer about your joy in meeting and eating with him again today.

 

Jeffrey A. Sumner                                                           October 7, 2007