Last Weeks Sermon


Back at the dawn of history
somewhere a human being stepped out of his (or her) cave in the middle of the night
and looked up and saw the stars
and said                                                                  
Where did all that come from?
How did it get there?
For that matter,
where did all this come from?
where did this rock come from
and our cave?
and that rabbit we ate for dinner
and that crocodile that ate gramma
and the sun, and the rain, and that volcano?
where did I come from?
and for that matter, why?
It may have taken a while, but eventually that cave person or one of his/her great grandchildren surmised that there must be Something out there
Something who made all these things
stars and rabbits
crocodiles and volcanoes
Something or Someone very big, very powerful
Maybe even a lot of someones
And when the cave men and women thought about Something big and powerful,
they thought about the crocodile
and the volcano
and the big guy who lived two caves down
the one who carried a big stick.
the one you gave the best cave to
and the best rabbit
the one you gave whatever he wanted
because if you didn't he'd hit you with his big stick
And so that primitive human being asked
I wonder what this God or these gods want
I'd better figure it out because this god thing must carry a very big stick!
And so they came out of their cave and built the first altar - an altar to the Godthing
and they put their very best stuff on the altar in the hopes of keeping the Godthing happy
the very best of what he hunted
the very best of what she grew
the very best of whatever they made
And soon (just a few thousand years) after that, somewhere in the world, someone built the first temple
and they filled the temple with lots of good things
all in hopes of keeping the Godthing happy
because anything big and powerful enough to make crocodiles and volcanoes must be kept happy
Now at some point God must have looked at all this and said
"Uh-oh.  They think I'm like the village bully.  I've got to clear this up."
and so God began to speak to people,
but God must have discovered that most people aren't very good listeners
Only a few of them paid any attention
One of those who did was this fellow Abraham
And God said to Abraham
Listen, I'm going to give you some things
a land
and so many children that the stars will seem insignificant
And this is what I want from you
I want you to let me be your God
I want you to listen to me
I want you to follow me
Because I love you
and while you're at it
I'd like you to be good to the people around you,
because I love them too.
And Abraham, who knew a good deal when he heard one, hopped on the first camel and headed off in whatever direction God pointed
Cause this was very good news!
God didn't want his stuff
God didn't want him to sacrifice his son, or even his animals
Instead God gave Abraham stuff
God even provided the ram for Abraham to sacrifice to God!
and Abraham listened to God
and tried to follow him
and knew that God loved him
and for several generations, Abraham's children knew too
but then most of them forgot
maybe it came from hanging around those Egyptians
or maybe human beings just have short memories
pretty soon they began to think that God was someone you needed to build altars and temples and pyramids and statues for
they began to think that God was kind of like Pharoah
a big and powerful bully
who you had to give stuff to and do stuff for if you wanted to keep him happy
So God tried again
God spoke to Moses
and though Moses
to the people and even to Pharoah
and God showed them that God was indeed powerful
and then God told them what God wanted, exactly
and God said
top of the list, love me
don’t make idols
don’t use my name as a curse
take a whole day off once a week to rest and think about me
and be good to each other
honor your father and mother
don't kill each other
don't cheat on each other
don't lie to each other
don't steal from each other
don’t even think about taking each other’s stuff
But, as I mentioned before, human beings don't listen well and we have very short memories
So over and over again, God had to remind us
Whenever the people forgot who God was, what God was
God spoke to the people through the prophets
and Amos said,
God loves you and all the people
and God only wants you to do right by your neighbor
if you will God will restore your fortunes and protect you
and Hosea said,
God loves you like a man loves his wife
and God wants you to love him
and be faithful to him
And Micah said
God loves you
God doesn’t want your burnt offerings and calves and stuff
God just wants you to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God
and all the prophets said
God isn't impressed with temples and fancy worship
God isn't impressed with burnt offerings and incense
God doesn't want your stuff
God wants your love
and still we didn't get it
So God became one of us
God sent his own son
to walk around in a body like ours
and tell us again
that God loves us like a father loves his children
that God only wants us to love God and each other
and God in Christ stood on the ground like we do
and looked up at the stars and
understood how small we feel
and God in Christ saw how people treated each other and how powerful people always carried a big stick to get what they wanted
and he understood why we were so sure that God must be a bully
and why we couldn't imagine a god who was powerful, but didn't want to push us around
and why we couldn't imagine anyone who would just love us and only want our love in return
and so he showed us
He let us kill him
and even while we were doing it,
he forgave us
and he showed us that death is not a big stick that God holds over us
He rose from the dead
And death was conquered
And still he knew that we would not understand all the truth of what we had heard and seen
and so he sent us the Spirit
who would live in us
and give us constant and complete access to the truth
the simple truth
that God loves us
and wants only love in return
only our love for God and love between us and our neighbors
that's who God is
whether we speak
God, the Creator,
God, the Redeemer, or
God, the Holy Spirit,
God is LOVE.

Let us pray:

Almighty and all powerful God, you created us and everything around us, and you loved us.  You created us in your image, capable of loving you. 

You spoke to us and told us of your love., you came to us and showed us your love, you live within us and give us everything that is yours - all your love, so that we have no excuse for not loving. 

Created by your love, shown your love, filled with your love, may we love you and each other and give you the only thing you have ever asked of us.  AMEN.