Genesis 1: 1-5
Exodus 3: 13-15
JOHN 1: 1-18

January 26, 2020 * CREDO SERMON SERIES


Now, perhaps this is the easiest part of the APOSTLES CREED for most people.  Because, I frequently run into folks who don’t go to church who tell me that they believe in a “higher power” and that they think that there is a BIG GUY … funny how they rarely say a BIG MOMMA …. but even the most insincere non-believer in any religious tradition is quick to declare that they think someone or something exists that is bigger than all of us.

Friends, YOU DO believe in the GOD who created the heavens and the earth, don’t you?   Do you consider God the One whose grace … whose love … exists from our very first breath and who offers us the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ as the God who watches over each of us?  YOU DO BELIEVE, right?    That one day through your active faith … because you truly believe and place God first in your life that you will enter into the gate of heaven with thanksgiving and praise?  That is part of your essence, right?

One of the challenges for me as I have been considering what I need to revive and reenergize my faith and what is needed both here at St. Paul’s and throughout the Christian world to bring us back into focus on what matters to the Holy just might be our collective need to prioritize, respect, honor, and yes worship God.  I am frequently saddened at how easily we disregard the fact that God is out there. … God is in here … God is watching all the time and waiting and hoping and loving every single person including those we disregard, dismiss, dislike and perhaps even despise and hate.   And, for those of us who truly believe … God’s Holy Spirit is in us too.  GOD IS EVERYWHERE … GOD IS LOVING … and yet, we are doing all we can to run, walk, or wheel ourselves to a place where we think we can not be noticed by the holy because we want to live our lives for us … not for God.

When I have had the honor of teaching Confirmation classes I always ask those teenagers at our first meeting to draw God.   I have a pile of crayons and sheets of paper and I provide the opportunity to each of them to consider their concept of God and then give those young artists and non-artists plenty of time to create BUT in their artistic creation I am giving them time to remember all that they have ever heard about God in church … at home … or perhaps how they have seen God through the oceans, mountains, and beautiful diversity of creation that humankind is all too often eager to destroy.

The results have been remarkable and many times powerful.   Some include a cross because their concept of God features Jesus … some don’t even differentiate God from Jesus perhaps because they have heard the first chapter of John that was read this morning, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”  Maybe if I asked you to draw an image of God you would include the cross …

Others have created a wide variety of scenes from nature … and every year … one or two of the kids would try to replicate Michelangelo’s OLD WHITE MAN from that ceiling painting in Rome.

If I gave you that assignment this morning … what would you draw?  If you had to explain the artistic creation from your hands of what God’s image is to you to another person how would you explain God.

IF … friends … IF someone asked you HOW DO YOU WORSHIP, PRAISE, and HONOR GOD and how often do you do it … what would you say?  Our Muslim neighbors pray five times a day and during the month of Ramadan they fast during the day hours to honor their concept of god.   This morning you and I together stated  I BELIEVE in GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY … THE MAKER OF HEAVEN and EARTH! But, my question … my challenge … and our need is how do we truly worship, praise and honor God rather than turning God into a simplistic word that we occasionally consider.

In the first of the Creation stories from Genesis we are taught that “God said, let us make humanity in our image, in our likeness … so God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image, God created them, male and female God created them, and God blessed them.”   So, look around church even in our differences each human being is a reflection of the Holy … not someone to discover differences in but rather someone to celebrate that God is a god of diversity and perhaps even has a sense of humor but if we begin to remember that our faith has a Holy text that is designed to direct our faith lives and if we say we believe then let’s accept the fact that we are ALL not just those who look like us and live like us or sound like us but every single one of us is created in the image of God.  Powerful stuff … empowering but also that should inspire us to worship this Creator with more than an afterthought.

But, church this God didn’t leave human creation as God’s afterthought … there is so much more to God … if we turn back to the Gospels.  Oh, church … if you believe … if you are a Christ follower …a Christ believer … if you are truly a Christian then I hope you are turning back to the Gospels daily because it is through those words that we discover Jesus but in today’s Gospel John, in his preamble to his book of insight into God’s love through Jesus, provides a clear statement that we each need to hold onto this morning, this afternoon, this evening but most importantly on those days we totally push church aside so that we can swim in the world’s polluted seas … John writes:

The true light that shines on all people is in the world … the light came to His own people and His own people didn’t recognize nor welcome Him.  But those who did welcome Him … those who believed in His name … He authorized to become God’s children!  Born from God … from His fullness we have ALL received grace so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God … God the only Son has made God known.

Those words aren’t as simple perhaps as they read … but it comes back to our belief … to our creed … to our essence for living.  Friends, we all know folks who actively reject God and faith … but John reminds us that God’s own people … didn’t recognize Him perhaps because God’s people enjoy the world or don’t like listening to God or feel uncomfortable praising and worshiping God afraid that someone might notice their joy and passion.   But, John is reminding those who pick up the Good News and read these words that those who WELCOME JESUS … THOSE WHO WELCOME GOD … THOSE WHO BELIEVE … are the ones authorized to become the children of God.

 The GRACE and LOVE from GOD is for ALL but the final connection is how we welcome … how we treat God … how or perhaps if we really believe and worship.

These days it seems that everything is about technology … we are giving up our humanity for the ease of having ALEXA and GOOGLE handle everything from our communications to even turning the lights off at night and setting our thermostats.   We seem to want to give up our own thought process … let Spotify create a playlist of songs I like and it does a great job.

Well, yesterday I was meeting with one of my former Confirmation kids and her fiancé to begin planning their wedding.  Sam and Erika were driving to our home so instead of talking with each other we texted … it is so much easier to type words than to talk isn’t it?  No emotional sounds … just words.  Anyhow, Erika typed that they would be 10 minutes late so I typed the letter K and put my phone in my back pocket.

Moments later my phone buzzed … so I took it out and was surprised to see that my butt and my phone had conspired to continue the conversation with Erika.  If you are on my Facebook or Instagram accounts you have already seen it but this is the message that Erika received from me: “THANKS AGAIN and e we I have no clue I have e to get it to work e I eeeeeeeeweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee I have been able to do that is eeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeee I have been in my thoughts ha.”   And, my phone hit send and Erika received that incredibly strange message …. Eeeeeeee ha.”

Friends, the God of Creation has provided us with clarity related to our faith and our lives.  If you are amongst those of us who accepts that there is a Creative power in the universe whom we have named God but when Moses asked the vision of God that he was seeing in the burning bush “Suppose I go to the Israelites and they ask me, “What is his name?  Then what shall I tell them?  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM … this is what you are to say to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you. Say to them … THE LORD, the GOD of your fathers … the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob … this is my name forever, the name I am to be remembered from generation to generation.”

Friends if you buy into that reality then you can discover what God wants from you … and from me by reading the Gospels which is where Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  The words I have spoken to you, I don’t speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me does His works; I am the Father and the Father is in me.”  So, read the words of Jesus … hear the challenge that God gives because that challenge is there in the Old Testament and the New … God is consistent … no other gods friends just the One who stated to Moses I AM WHO I AM!  Faith requires actions and God has told us what they are.

Find comfort and truth when you declare I BELIEVE in GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY … THE MAKER OF HEAVEN and EARTH! 

 And, be bold enough to follow the words of the prophet today when you head into the world … Isaiah wrote, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

Your joy in faith  a reality because you understand that you and I are children of the Creator of the Universe … we believe in God and God deserves our praise and worship!


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