Sermon Reflections and More!
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Holy Trinity Sunday                                                             June 11, 2017


This Weekend's Readings (click each reading to view the passage)
Genesis 1:1-2:4aPsalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
 
Pr. Christine's Sermon -
Pr. Christine's Sermon - "Every Riven Thing"


Children's Sermon -
Children's Sermon - "On the Day You Were Born"


Choir Anthem -
Choir Anthem - "Cantique de Jean Racine"


2017 Yard Sale Time Lapse Video
2017 Yard Sale Time Lapse Video





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Sermon Notes from Pastor Christine...  

"God goes, belonging to every riven thing He's made
Sing his being simply by being
the things it is:
Stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why
God goes. Belonging to every riven thing He's made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where
God goes belonging. To every riven thing He's made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see
God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
a part from what man knows,
God goes belonging to every riven thing He's made."
That poem was written by Christian Wiman. He's a writer and poet who often gives voice to the silent hunger for faith and belief that lives within humanity, and he also speaks to the challenges that doubt poses to faith and life which haunts many.  I first read this poem about 5 years ago and it struck a chord within me then, but when I stumbled upon it again just this past week it gave me pause in a different way, which is the gift of poetry. Poetry, like scripture, apprehends that which is right in front of us, but we can't quite give voice to. 
I read these words on the backdrop of our readings for today. The chosen scriptures are a strange combination. Maybe timing or context or state of the heart made these words more poignant and enlightening and full this week. Somehow the poem was a bridge which allowed me to walk to and fro between the divine and the ordinary. 
 "They worshipped and some doubted," such a concrete, ordinary reality of humanity paired with the story of the cosmic and majestic handiwork of God, "In the beginning..." and the whole universe was made. It seems like a nonsensical and illogical pairing of readings.
Because there is very little about doubt, either in relation to faith or in our relationships, that is understood as splendid or godly or even good. Doubt doesn't seem to belong in the cosmic plan. Typically doubt is experienced as worrisome and corroding - wearing away the fibers of our faith which bind us to one another and God.
Faith is a gift from God, but what about doubt?
Some doubted? Heck - they ALL doubted otherwise they weren't paying attention; just some of them had the gall to admit it.  Because doubt is often likened to failure or weakness.
In daily conversation we frequently say, "I place my faith in God," or even, "I place my faith in my ability or in my partner," or, "I have faith."
But nobody ever says, "I place my doubt in God."
But what if we did? Said, "I place my doubt in God."
Would the outcome of doubt change?
If, like the poet proclaims, every riven thing does belong to God, then wouldn't that include doubt also? After all, 'riven' is an ancient Scandinavian word which means broken, sundered, torn apart. 
That's what doubt tries to do. Break apart. But does breaking apart have to be bad?
What would happen if we understood doubt to be a gift from God?
Doubt does have an insidious side and can damage faith and our relationships.
But, the gift side of doubt is it provokes curiosity, seeks truth, and pushes us from our comfort zones.
For me, and honestly you do not need to agree with me on this piece, but think about it...
I personally wholeheartedly believe that the God who calls me to preach today in the name of Jesus Christ may also call me to question and counter my own words, my individual and communal views, and my theology. I believe this, because it has happened in my life. A few times.

I even think that it's possible that God could call me to unbelief.
I know this may provoke you (and it should... I am actually saying it to provoke thinking), but what if God uses our doubt to call us to questioning or unbelief, so that faith or conviction can be reborn.
Then doubt doesn't seem scary or like a failing of soul strength.
Doubt seems like a chance. A chance to find more, deeper, and truer meaning and encounters.
Doubt isn't a crucifier, but rather a resurrector.
Doubt is the beginning.
Doubt was at the beginning.  

In the beginning... That's how it all started, right?
Contained in that little statement is the keynote of faith: namely God has something to do with everything. In the beginning God created everything.

The subtext that we miss (and I admit it's a little mental gymnastics to see this underside) is that for there to be a beginning of more, God had to doubt what He had was enough.
God doubted the empty void was enough, so God made the heavens and the earth.
And it was good, but it wasn't enough.
God created light and dark, and it was good, but it wasn't enough.
God saw the light and the dark and I bet they amazed Him, and yet... God doubted that was all He could do.

And so, God kept at it until every riven thing God could conjure had been subsumed into His cosmos. Until it was very good.  If doubt animated, energized, and aggravated God to create everything from the tiniest flea to the endless blackhole, then imagine what could God do with our doubt.

I'm going to tell you a little story related to this sermon. My poor best friend, I think she knows I am going to dime her out... Almost every week I preach I get to a point where I text her and say, "My sermon sucks."
And she has to give me a little pep talk. If she didn't do her job, we might end up with no sermon one week. 
 
*****

Anyway, um, this is how it went this week...
She has a little typo in there, which if you don't fix in your head it doesn't make a lot of sense, so I'll fix it when I read it.
A little snipet of my meltdown:
Me: I'm telling you...it's a terrible sermon.
Her: You can't (typo) let doubt derail you... while telling me doubt is a gift.
Me: LOL
Her: I mean, you are doubting yourself too much.
Me: I see your point.
Her: Realize the gift yourself.
Me: (winky face) I may use that in the sermon [this was my fair warning to her].
Her: I'm seeing the value and power of doubt now...
Doubt is a curious beast.
It can either inspire us to look for and long for more.
Or it can lie to us and tell us it's over. There's nothing more.
And sometimes it can do both in the same breath.
 
If every Bible is discarded, if every church crumbles to dust, if the last believer utters his last prayer and just lets it all go... Are we to think that is the end? That somehow doubt has overtaken Christ himself? Nah, God will be like, "I doubt this is the end. What can we do next? And He will whisper from the heavens, "In the beginning..." and there He'll go with creating, and resurrecting, and making goodness.

If you're someone who's sitting there right now harboring some type of doubt, whether it be about God, yourself, or someone you love, then from a Jesus perspective, I'd say God's probably doing some work in your life, some hard, blood-sweating work. Just because it's godly work doesn't mean it's easy. I mean, we only need look to the cross to know that resurrection work isn't easy stuff.

Doubt calls you to not settle, to be courageous, to question more.
As God demonstrates very good stuff, can come from doubt. I believe doubt is so woven into faith that they cannot be separated. Even for God.
 
Maybe nobody says, "Place your doubt in God," but maybe they should.
Give it to God. See what you and He can create with it; what new beginning might come about.

Maybe part of the gift of doubt is it awakens us to what it would be like to have God absent from our lives, which in turn awakens us to the longing for God's presence in the world and in our hearts. We wouldn't see the gift of belief, without the pain of unbelief.

Because...  
God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
a part from what man knows,
God goes belonging to every riven thing He's made.
Amen.