The best part of preaching from both of God’s books is that moment of surprise when a creational text teaches you something about God that you’d never considered before. It’s kind of like the epiphany you might have felt when you first read a different translation of the bible. Only with a creation text, the ‘aha’ always seems to come out of nowhere. Perhaps it has something to do with the oblique angle from which creational words are ‘spoken’; they come from all directions. Or maybe God is saying something new – a word that hasn’t been spoken in the bible. Not sure how it all works, but it has happened a lot again this past church year. So, here are the top 10 things I learned about God through creational texts this year (in no particular order);
10. Cultivating God’s Presence through a Farmer (Oct 13, 2013) - The idea of an ecosystem offering a earthy reflection of God’s interdependent - Father, Son and Holy Spirit – nature was quite compelling. So was looking at a farmer’s hand as he examined a few kernels of wheat and spoke a parable about all of the attention he pays to the land, seed, weeds, rain and sun; it was as if God was speaking.
9. Supernova, Death and Resurrection in the Universe (Nov 10, 2013) – When a Mars Rover physicist first told me about the death and resurrection of matter that occurs through supernovas, allowing life as we know it to even exist, I thought, “Of course! No surprise there – that the very fabric of the universe would image a dying and resurrecting God in this way.” All of creation images it’s Maker and every one of the 30 supernovas that (even now) happen per second, image Christ!
8. God, Mathematics and Infinity (Nov 17, 2013) – I can still recall the delight I felt as I watched a group of mathematicians unfold the scope of the concept of infinity. Moving from large numbers to ever larger numbers (googol, googolplex, Graham’s number, etc) it was as if the heavens were parting – revealing the ever-infinite and eternal nature of God.
7. God’s Just Heart in a Judge (Jan 19, 2014) – One of the judges I interviewed for this sermon spoke about how he preferred to give verbal judgements so that he could look in the eye’s of those being judged and adjust his tone and even reshape his judgment on the fly. As he told me about his modus operandi I sensed the image bearing presence of an incarnating Christ all over him! God is a God who speaks his words while looking at us!
6. God’s Hospitable Heart in a Server (Feb 16, 2014) – The passionate hearts of the many restaurant servers I interviewed for this sermon taught me about how God delights in meeting our needs and always serves us in a thoughtful, timely and just-right way. One server loved the challenge of making even the crankiest customer happy; he would give all he had to accomplish that goal.
5. Why Does God Allow Pain (How Wolves Change Rivers) (Mar 16, 2014) – When my daughter in law sent me a link to a video showing how wolves can change rivers, I was struck by the powerful parallel to how God mysteriously works through suffering. Even as wolves can move rivers so too can God use death to bring life. I’m surprised God didn’t include this wolf/river connection in his chapter 38 questions to Job; “Can you tell me Job, how a wolf moves a river?”
4. Resurrection and Searching for Sugarman (Easter Sunday April 20, 2014) - As I watched Sixto Rodriguez (a kind of savior to Apartheid era South Africans and a musician who many thought was dead) step onto the stage for his resurrection/reunion concert, and vicariously felt the overwhelming ovation of the crowd, and then saw what it was like for this overlooked, suffering servant to receive the adoration of his fans, for the first time ever, I wondered about the joy Jesus (and the Father and Holy Spirit) must have felt on that first resurrection morning.
3. The Science and Gospel of Branches (April 27, 2014) – Remaining in Christ can look different for every single person; even as no two branches of a vine/tree are the same. “Plants are highly flexible and highly responsive to their environment and really only grow to the extent that a particular environment allows them to.” (Dr. Vern Peters, Kings University). It’s the same with your connection to Jesus; its ‘s unique as you are.
2. God’s Providence in a Map (June 8, 2014) - Through this sermon I learned that the Holy Spirit can take the imaginative gift that enables us to ‘go there’ via maps (an innately human gift that was made by, for and through Christ) and give us a foretaste of the New Earth by applying it to the divinely descriptive words of heaven found in the book of Revelation.
1. God, Cancer and Radiation Therapy (June 22, 2014) – In this very difficult sermon we learned that God addresses the cancer of sin with often unseen, perfect, multi-disciplinary precision and via a process that always involves a little bit of (cell) death. Again, God is a God of death and resurrection.