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Sermons from July 2018

This Joy That I Have: Perspective

Imagine how the biblical story would have played out had Joseph not reframed the story of his brothers’ jealousy and betrayal as he did, had he allowed himself to become bitter, instead of better. Instead, he kept his head up, made the best of the opportunities that hardship brought his way, and allowed his gifts to develop. In the end, he was able to bless, not only his family, but also his captors, turning those who might well have been regarded as enemies into allies and protectors for his people. It’s an extraordinary case of the transformative power of perspective.

For the Beauty of the Earth: The Earth, Seasons and Climate Change

What I hear in the wise king’s prayer is a humble acknowledgment that things get out of balance. They just do, and this frequently happens because it is in the sinful nature of human beings to behave with selfishness and short-sightedness, to seek power and become embroiled in conflict — and yes, to mistreat the land. In spite of God’s good desires for us, and in spite of God’s good gifts to us, we frequently muck things up, and there are consequences, and the world gets out of balance. But always God is calling us to return. Always, God is longing to bring things back into balance, and is calling us back to our best selves, individually and as a human family.
Creative Commons licensed photo by Marilylle Soveran

For the Beauty of the Earth: The Animal Kingdom

Might we, see animals as partners in this venture to restore the earth’s balance — even those animals which we have regarded as a nuisance, or as something to be feared? Could this be what the prophet was getting at when he spoke of lions and lambs, children and snakes living in harmony? And what about the people whom we distrust, or fear, or whom we regard as enemies? Can you put on God’s wider perspective-transforming lenses, and see them as keys to your own transformation, your own sense of harmony and balance, and as your teachers?

For the Beauty of the Earth: Trees

At the beginning of the great Story and at the end, we find the Tree of Life — and there are countless other stories in between in which trees stand as sentinels and even as the means through which God brings rescue and transformation to God’s people. Our scriptures extol the virtue of trees as signs of God’s sustenance. What are we planting for future generations? Are we listening to the ancient wisdom, taking the long view, and passing that on?

For the Beauty of the Earth: Oceans

Then there is the ocean — vast, unfathomable, beyond what we can comprehend, so much going on below the surface that we cannot see. And the crowning symbol of that vast unknowing is the Leviathan — a giant sea creature that is shrouded in mystery. The Leviathan is mentioned just five times in the Old Testament and twice in one of the deuterocanonical books (2 Esdras). The descriptions are really vague, and some imagine Leviathan to be a sea serpent, giant eel or giant squid, while Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick forever cemented in many minds the image of a giant white whale. Whatever its form, the Leviathan is unconquerable by human beings — and yet, the Psalmist describes it as a sort of plaything for God, something so small compared to God’s power. Its presence in this poem casts a sort of shadow, a word of caution, lest we ever grow too big for our britches in our pursuit of “dominion” over this earth of the Lord’s.