A Blizzard of Blessings in the Snow Globe of God – November 8
A sermon based on 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15
given at Mount Vernon, Ohio on November 8, 2020
by Rev. Scott Elliott
I often bring up the words in Acts 17 (27-28) where Paul explains that God “is not far from each one of us. For ‘In [God] we live and move and have our being. . .’” I’ve mentioned before that I understand those powerful words to mean that God soaks creation. This may sound like a corny image and analogy but I picture existence like a spongy world set in a universe something like a giant snow globe filled with liquid – and the liquid is God soaking and surrounding the world all the time. Sticking with the snow globe image, the sparkly snowflakes that drift down to the world are blessings constantly falling and filling existence.
As awkward as that comparison might be, in my mind it resonates with metaphoric Truth. God’s everywhere inside and outside of us – and blessings abound. I find this true because I have noticed in three score years of awareness that when I stop and examine virtually anything, a stone, a pencil the words on a piece of paper, a flower, a bug, a cat, a bird, a person– in all such things my examinations reveal Awe and Wonder and a desire for well-being for creation (which is the meaning of love in the Bible).
So, while I cannot speak for everyone, I not only agree with Paul and believe that God is what we exist in, but I find it more than belief, I find it to be factually true. Wherever we go there is God, what Marcus Borg calls “a sacred reality all around us and within us.” (Speaking Christian, p 68)
Professor Borg asserts that the word God names “‘what is’” as wondrous and sacred, a stupendous and glorious ‘more.’” He notes that the nature of God is a “gracious, loving and compassionate reality.” God, he writes, “wills our well-being and the well-being of creation.” (Ibid, 80). We all know that some other theologians, churches and pastors have A view of God that suggests God’s not these things or not always these things, or these things plus somehow also a threatening, jealous angry-man like being with superpower and imposing eternal super punishments. But if the Bible is true in stating that God is love, and that God’s love is steadfast and forever– which I am also convinced is truth– then how can God be threatening, jealous and angry-man like? Or dole out eternal super punishments. The answer is Love; God can’t be that.
What God is, is the “gracious, loving and compassionate reality” which “wills our well-being and the well-being of creation.” We live and we move and we have our being in that! What a blessing that is and what blessings that brings. Like a blizzard of beautiful sparkly snowflakes blessings surround us. Blessings of Life . . . of Love . . . of God soaked reality. Awe and Wonder and Love fill the universe. There are so many large and small blessings in our lives– nature, necessities, family, friends, laughs, other pleasures and love. Every week in this time and this place we count among our many blessings Jesus, Christianity, this church, one another and our multitude of missions and ministries.
While there is certainly a blizzard of blessings in life, we all know that sometimes events in existence can make it hard to see them. Troubles have a tendency to loom over our existence and can dim or even impede our experiences of all the goodness – the God-ness– soaking our existence 24/7.
This has been particularly true in 2020, including this week of the election and uncertainties that remain. To shift metaphors for a moment, it has been particularly hard at times this year – this week– to see the forest of blessings around us for the trees of the pandemic, economic downturn and divisive politics of our times. I must admit, as well, that even without the unusually hard times of 2020, just regular old hard times can make it difficult to count our blessings, to see and be aware of God who fills the universe like water in ginormous snow globe.
But just because we may not be able to see our blessings and God in them, or only see them dimly, that does not mean the abundance of blessings are not there, or that God’s not gracious and loving and compassionate and willing our well-being. Just as small thing things beneath our feet are full of the wonder of God whether we stop and look or not, we can, and do, have blessings and are blessed even when we are distracted from noticing them.
Churches, like ours that have pledge drives like so that we can stop and examine our blessings and respond with blessings in return, and not just as a show of gratitude, but to be a part of the blessings of the God who soaks existence. God acts through the hands and feet and voice of humanity, including clusters of people in faith communities. One would hope perhaps even more so in them since we cluster for the purpose of doing that– acting for God here and now. Church done well blesses the members; the community; the world; and the God whom we live and move and have our being in.
How do we know that? Well, my desktop dictionary of theological terms defines blessing as “ a particular goodness received or given. Liturgically it is an expression of God’s graciousness and love.” That dictionary also notes that the word “bless” means “To praise, petition for divine favor, wish someone well, convey favor. Used biblically [it] . . . describe[s] God’s actions . . . ”
Today on this Stewardship Sunday it is good to remember as we bless God and the church with pledges of time, talent and treasure, that we, of course, do not just provide blessings, we receive an abundance of them from God, Blessings in creation, in our homes, in jobs, in our families, in the community and in this church.
Our response, of course, is to not just thank God, but bless back as best we can. One way we do that is provide the church, The Body of Christ, with offerings to use for God’s work. The many ways our efforts have been used for God’ work in this church have recently been mentioned at length in our stewardship letter and the Parish Visitor– and in stewardship moments. I am not going to recount them again today except in the general way, noting they are amazing and plentiful. When you read or listen to those accounts, it is truly astounding how many blessings we have been a part of this past year. The pledges made on this day a year ago were blessings that begat blessings and beget them still. Thanks be to God, and to all who have provided those blessings. The blessings of this year’s offerings of time, talent and treasure will follow suit. Goodness growing goodness. Thank you for the blessing of your blessings in the past and in the present. They matter much . . . as do all of you. AMEN
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