“New Year’s Resolution: More Wonder, Less Worry!”

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? —Psalm 8: 3,4. NRSV

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Nonetheless, as 2020 begins I resolve to have more wonder in my life and less worry. I’m not going to lie; there is plenty to worry about. But I have learned from keeping a journal that when I look back on what I was worrying about it was usually the wrong thing.

I resolve to be less distracted by the shiny and ephemeral so that I can pay more attention to what is truly wonderful around me. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote this about wonder: “We do not come upon wonder only at the climax of thinking or in observing strange, extraordinary facts but in the startling fact that there are facts at all: being, the universe, the unfolding of time. We may face wonder at every turn, in a grain of sand, in an atom, as well as in the stellar space.” (God in Search of Man)

The poet who wrote Psalm 8 looked up at the night sky in wonder and became aware of the vast divide between the eternal Creator and us frail creatures. The Psalmist was also wonder-struck that this majestic Creator should care for us mortals.

Whenever I am hesitant to approach this high and holy God in prayer, I remember that this same God, so far removed from us, reached out in love to be “God with us” in the humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is the mediator between heaven and earth. He is the bridge between frail human flesh and the majesty of the Creator.

Whatever the new year brings God will be with us, and that is cause for more wonder and less worry!

Prayer: God with us, as the new year unfolds, open us to the wonder that is everywhere around us, and free us from the worry that robs us of fullness of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(This is my devotion for January 1, 2020 in the United Church of Christ’s Daily Devotional booklet for Advent to Epiphany. Photo: “The Gloaming” by R.L Floyd, 2019.)

 

“You Can’t Take It with You!” A Sermon on Luke 12:13-21

Prosperity is good, right? But it comes with challenges to both nations and individuals. American society is admired throughout the world as industrious and productive.  Americans work many more hours than most others in the industrial world and they take fewer vacations. Continue reading

“Ask, Search, Knock” A Sermon on Luke 11:1-13

One of his disciples said to Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” It is a simple request. Perhaps you are perfectly comfortable praying, but many church people are not. As the Presbyterian theologian Robert McAfee Brown wrote: “Prayer for many is like a foreign land. When we go there, we go as tourists. Like most tourists, we feel uncomfortable and out of place. Like most tourists, we therefore move on before too long and go somewhere else.”

The premise of this sermon is that we could all benefit from thinking about what prayer is and how to go about it, that we may stop feeling like tourists in a foreign land and more like pilgrims in the house of prayer. Continue reading

“Joy Comes with the Morning” A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 30

Isaiah 66:10-14

I’m glad today we have the brass quintet with us this morning because my sermon is about joy and rejoicing, and what better expresses that than the sound of brass instruments, which is why we often have them at Easter, at weddings and other celebrations..

There’s a lot of rejoicing in the Bible: the Israelites rejoiced when they brought in the sheaves; there is rejoicing in heaven over the one lost sinner. There are Paul’s admonitions to “rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” Continue reading

“Unexpected Miracles” A Sermon on Isaiah 43: 16-21

Last spring, when your pastors Bruce and Barb invited me to come be with you I didn’t realize that I would be with you on a momentous day. For today is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended The First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. So before this service is over we will have reached that centenary. Continue reading

“No Doubts? I Doubt it!” A Devotion on James 1: 5-8

“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” —James 1:5-8 Continue reading

“The False God SUCCESS” A Devotion on 1 Corinthians 4:10-13

“God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.”

—1 Corinthians 4:10-13 Continue reading