First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Neil H. Wilson, Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Sermon ~ October 21, 2018 ~ Pastor Greg Briggs

sermon title – date   by Pastor Greg Briggs

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Mysterium Tremendum et fascinans
  2. Driving by the Baptist church
    1. “beyond doubt” on their marquee
    2. I really wonder what they are talking about
    3. All about doubt, and limits
  3. Fear and Trembling
    1. Job – magnificence, power, and scope of God’s concerns
    2. Humbleness, fear, tininess
    3. Mysterium tremendum et fascinans
      1. The Tremendous and fascinating mystery of God
      2. Intentionally choosing a mouthful –
        1. Some shorten it into ‘mystical,’ or the ‘numinous’
  • I want us to have to wrestle with it, savor it like a jawbreaker candy, something to be sucked on, sweet and slow to diminish
  1. Interconnectedness, intricacy of God’s creation – limits of our perception
  1. Challenges of knowledge, and limits of human comprehension
    1. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
      ― Galileo Galilei, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina
    2. Example of the wolves in Yellowstone, changing the flow of rivers
      1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSzQ9w5TCqc
      2. Wolves, reduce deer population, helping trees grow, which restores habitats that encourage other animal life
  • Wolves also reduce coyote population, enabling smaller mammals to recover – including beavers
  1. All influences combine to creating a more robust watershed, reducing river erosion, restoring wetlands, further increasing biodiversity
  1. Individual vs. collective human knowledge and perception
  2. Starting to encroach on some of the things on God’s list in today’s scripture
    1. Can you issue an order to the clouds so their abundant waters cover you?
      1. Cloud seeding
    2. 35 Can you send lightning so that it goes and then says to you, “I’m here”?
      1. We can make lightning. It powers most of our technology
  • 36 Who put wisdom in remote places, or who gave understanding to a rooster?
  1. 37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds, and who can tilt heaven’s water containers, so that dust becomes mud and clods of dirt adhere?
  1. Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans –
    1. Knowing limits of reason are even more important in this age of knowledge
      1. “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop and think if they should” – Jurassic park
    2. The dangers of unintended consequences
      1. Environmental impacts
        1. Water pollution – all over Michigan
        2. Climate change
        3. We collectively have the impact of geologic era
        4. Essay in GRE test prep – whether technology is the solution to our woes
          1. Got harder and harder for me to grade, because the arguments got more complex for me
        5. Moving on to gospel – Mark
          1. Ah, James and John – did they get what Jesus was teaching, or not?
            1. One interpretation is that they are missing the mark about what it means for Jesus to be the messiah
            2. Another interpretation is that they understood very well, perhaps better than most, so they were trying to protect themselves
  • In either case, missed a deeper truths, “
    1. “they don’t get what they are asking,”
    2. Again, about the subversion of the world order
    3. the Human One (or son of man) didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
  1. Extreme danger of moral certainty
    1. Societal impacts of unintended consequences
    2. Petoskey Pharmacist
      1. Theological stance is questionable
      2. CERTAINTIY and lack of trust of woman
  • Throw in a dash of toxic masculine certainty
  1. Racial profiling – who is or is not “supposed” to be in a certain location
    1. False calls to police
      1. 10/12/18 – D’Arreion Toles had police called on him by a white woman for trying to enter his own apartment building by another, white, resident
      2. April 29, 2018 Oakland Ca. police called on African American family for grilling in a BBQ area in a park, by a white person
      3. 2009 – Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    2. “policing” of black behavior by white onlookers
  2. Mysterium tremendum et fascinans destroys certainty
    1. At odds with worldly culture of assuredness and never showing doubt
    2. See it in politics all the time
      1. No desire or room for compromise
    3. Theological question, “what if I’m wrong?”
      1. Harm reduction
      2. Trying to get at unintended consequences
  • Needs listening
  1. Brings us closer to Jesus’ call to serve
  1. Conclusion – That’s not the way it will be with us
    1. Here’s what Jesus has to say
    2. 43 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44  Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45  for the Human One[a] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
    3. Don’t be certain, don’t move beyond doubt. Move into curiosity, move into astonishment, move into caring and serving one another. The genuine will be realized, and the false and ill minded will be driven away
    4. Stop trying to preserve seats of power and privilege, like James and John or how things are in the US today.
      1. Serve and love, because we cannot know all that is going on around us.
      2. We choose to live in terror or wonder

 

Readings

Job 38:1-7, 34-41 Common English Bible (CEB)

38 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

Who is this darkening counsel
    with words lacking knowledge?
Prepare yourself like a man;
    I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me.

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
    Tell me if you know.
Who set its measurements? Surely you know.
    Who stretched a measuring tape on it?
On what were its footings sunk;
    who laid its cornerstone,
    while the morning stars sang in unison
        and all the divine beings shouted?

34 Can you issue an order to the clouds
    so their abundant waters cover you?
35 Can you send lightning so that it goes
    and then says to you, “I’m here”?
36 Who put wisdom in remote places,
    or who gave understanding to a rooster?[a]
37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds,
        and who can tilt heaven’s water containers
38     so that dust becomes mud
        and clods of dirt adhere?

39 Can you hunt prey for the lion
    or fill the cravings of lion cubs?
40 They lie in their den,
    lie in ambush in their lair.
41 Who provides food for the raven
    when its young cry to God,
    move about without food?

 

 

 

Mark 10:35-45 Common English Bible (CEB)

35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

38 Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup I drink or receive the baptism I receive?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said, “You will drink the cup I drink and receive the baptism I receive, 40  but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. 42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44  Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45  for the Human One[a] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”

 

Listen to the audio version of Pastor Greg’s Sermon below:

Submit a Comment

Captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.