October 16, 2006

Looking Ahead to October 22, 2006 -- 20th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Job 38:1-7, 34-41
  • Psalm 104 (VU p.826)
  • From the Letters to the Early Church: Hebrews 5:1-10
  • From the Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

The Hymns are:

  • 389 God is Here
  • 316 Praise our Maker
  • 268 Bring Many Names *NEW*
  • 684 Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

The Sermon title is Knowing God.

Early Thoughts: The book of Job is a, well different story. And it is a story where, quite frankly, God does not come off looking too good. At the beginning of the story we are told how honourable and faithful Job is. Then, as some sort of test, God allows Job to be stripped of his wealth, his health and his family. In a culture where misfortune equaled having offended God somehow everyone tells Job he must have done something wrong. His own wife counsels him to "curse God and die". But Job knows that he did nothing wrong. Job knows that this is not fair. And Job is willing to tell God so, at least indirectly by arguing with his three friends who seek to defend God. In response God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind saying: "2Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me." (Job 38:2,3).

This reading from Job is the beginning of an extended section (chapters 38-41) where God lists all that God has done. The sense is that God is trying to say "you don't really know and understand me!". And that raises a questions. How do we really know God?

Knowing God is a challenge. Part of the challenge is that there is a part of us that always wants to be able to define God. When we can define something we can limit it, we can make it what we want it to be. But God consistently resists human attempts to define who and what God is, or what God cares about.

Knowing God is a challenge also because, as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part;" (1 Corinthians 13:12). God is beyond our language to describe. God is beyond our experience to comprehend. God is bigger than our conceptions.

So how do we know God? Well we don't, fully. But we are always challenged to be open to having our knowledge and understanding of God broadened. We are always urged to explore how God is present in our lives. And we are always warned not to speak as if our understanding is perfect, or as if we have the inside line on what God thinks. Otherwise we too may hear the voice from inside a whirlwind.

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