given on Sunday, November 6, 2016
Psalm 145:1-4 (NLT)
1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.
4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
1 Corinthians 2 (NLT)
2 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.[b] 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
6 Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. 7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God[c]—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8 But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”[d]
10 But[e] it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.[f] 14 But people who aren’t spiritual[g] can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,
“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to teach him?”[h]
But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
Psalm 145:17-21 (NLT)
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.
21 I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
forever and ever.
Early mornings are a personal delight and this week what a gift the weather has been because it gave me an opportunity to literally sit outside and marvel at the universe as the world started waking up. As I sat watching the stars, feeling the west winds blowing, hearing the leaves rustling, and smelling fall in the air, the words came to mind—how wonderfully mysterious God is.
Two words, wonderfully mysterious, seems to capture the understanding of God’s relationship with creation. Even putting it into these words really cannot define this unique relationship, but our words are simply part of this wonderfully mysterious relationship.
Sitting in the early morning well before sunrise, I feasted on the stars. There are three stars in a row that Mom called “The Three Sisters.” Gazing on them in the southern sky directly above the deck, I feel a closeness with Mom, but also with the story that gave these stars my family connection.
Mom was only two and a half when her mother called her into the kitchen with her sisters surrounding her. She asked mom which one she would like to live with if something happened to her: Aunt Onie, Aunt Dora, and Aunt Millie. Only 2.5 years old, yet Mom remembered that conversation. Sadly, her mother did die about a month after that kitchen conversation; and no, Mom did not go to live with one of the sisters because she stayed with her dad.
Such stories probably fill the journals of families everywhere, but watching those stars this week the story surfaced in my memory again. And those three stars, “The Three Sisters,” twinkled in the morning sky connecting me to generations already gone. Wonderfully mysterious started singing in my mind.
This week marched us ahead through the season as October closed and November opened. The harvest in our area is nearing completion and some fields are being prepared for the spring as the stubble is plowed and fertilizer applied. The rhythm of life continues and the wonderful mystery blesses us with all that we need to feed the multitudes.
The pre-dawn world wakes up slowly. The owls still call to each other as the rooster belts out its cock-a-doodle-do. The coyotes begin to quiet as the dogs wake up and bark at who knows what. The cats decide to eat before curling up for the day, and the quiet birds begin to flitter about in the trees and bushes surrounding the yard. Nature is wonderfully mysterious.
November is not a favorite month for me. In fact if I dwell on it too long, it can squash my optimism. This is when the color in our world disappears. In my family’s history, this month seemed to be marked with tragedy and losses. At times, November seems to last forever and because of all these personal experiences, I struggle to see the value of the month. Yet, the mere symbolic relationship of November to the cycle of life again fits the descriptor “wonderfully mysterious.”
God created what we know as our world, but the calendar is a tool humanity devised to create order in our lives. God did not design the world around the calendar. God created the world to sustain itself and tasked us to take care of it. Are we?
Tuesday is our American election day; are we prepared to vote knowing that each vote we make is part of the responsibility we have to be stewards of God’s world. The outcome may not be a personal favorite, but taking part in the election and accepting the final decisions is simply one tiny part of the complex structure humans created—and it is certainly not perfect. Only God is perfect and we are blessed to know him and place our trust in him.
The wonderfully mysterious relationship we have with God is established through the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of his son Jesus Christ. The practice of sharing in the Eucharist (more commonly referred to as communion in our church) reconnects us to God. Each time we share in the bread and the cup and review our beliefs through the liturgy of the sacrament, we are brought into relationship with God. Even communion is wonderfully mysterious in that it reconnects us with God, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
Reading scripture, praying continually, and being in Christian fellowship sustains our relationship with God. These practices keep us centered on God and his connection to us right here, right now. The Holy Spirit is wonderfully mysterious and a constant presence in our lives when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior.
Accepting the reality of God’s personal sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ places us in a wonderfully mysterious relationship with God. Once in that relationship, we are in union with all that is God—the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Each person is gifted with certain skills and God asks us to use them to be stewards of his creation. That work wonderfully, mysteriously keeps us in relationship with God.
November is filled with opportunities to witness to the wonderful mystery of God in our lives. We take the bread and the cup to symbolize the relationship, but the Holy Spirit is present and will guide us to fully participate as God’s agents in this world.
Step up to the communion table, but remember that God is in communion with us at these times. He is alive. He acts through us. He reaches out to others through us. He sustains us through our work in the fields and in the kitchens. He comforts us as we reach out to those in pain and in sorrow. He blesses us with the joy of family and friends. He welcomes us to life eternal as we join him in death. Wonderfully mysterious is our relationship with God.
Dear wonderfully mysterious God,
Our lives overflow with the blessings you provide.
Our lives are vehicles to serve as stewards of this world.
Our lives are witnesses to the power of love in the face of turmoil.
Our lives are given to you to be all that we can for all the needs we can.
Thank you for the glory of your creation;
For the stars we watch in the dark,
For the harvests that feed the hungry,
For the warmth of the sunshine and the shade of the clouds,
For the thirst quenching rains in times of drought, and
For the fellowship of believers willing to serve one and another.
Guide us through the Holy Spirit
To read, study, pray, and worship together.
Guide us through the Holy Spirit
To hear you speak and to speak for you.
Guide us through the Holy Spirit
To do as you want us to do as stewards of your creation.
May our work be your work,
May our words be your words.
May our lives be blessed
by the bread and the cup
we share today
in the name of you,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. –Amen