Home
Christ Church
Worship
Sermons
Children's Ministries
Spiritual Formation
Music
Ministries
Mission and Outreach
Giving
Ways to Serve
Click title for complete list of service times
Worship Times

Sundays
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
(spoken service)

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
(with full choir, hymns)

Wednesdays
7:00 a.m.
Holy Eucharist with Healing Prayer


Directions to
Christ Church


handicap_sign
Our church, restrooms and meeting space are handicap accessible.

calendar button_72

Puzzles
A sermon preached by the Rev. James Dodson on November 10, 2013

Pentecost XXV
 

Haggai 1:15b-2:9Psalm 145:1-5, 18-222 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17Luke 20:27-38


My father loved puzzles of all kinds - especially jigsaw puzzles.  He could hardly tear himself away  He would spend hours with ridiculously small pieces, laid out on a gigantic kitchen table.  I do not share my father's love of puzzles.   

Today, however, we are faced with three different puzzles:  the puzzle of our Gospel reading, the puzzle of Psalm 145, and the puzzle of stewardship.

The Gospel reading this morning is an unworkable puzzle for me.  I cannot solve it - and I am not the only one.  In preparation for this morning's sermon, I checked out a website listed as Resources for Catholic Educators - but looks like they don't get it either.  What they came up with for this passage in Luke is a crossword puzzle entitled "Whose Wife will she be?"  The clues ACROSS say:  Without offspring.  Rising of the dead.  Messenger of God.  Wed again.  The number of husbands, children and children's children.  The clues DOWN ask:  not God of the dead, but of the living.  Go Isaac.  The husbands of the woman were these.  They did not believe in the resurrection.

And when we consider Psalm 145, what do we find?  Another puzzle.  Psalm 145 was such an important part of ancient Jewish practice that it was recited three times a day, every day.  And while the psalmist David expresses his personal commitment to worship Yahweh, the psalm is not primarily about one individual's praise.  It has a universal scope that in verse 2 calls the whole of creation to "praise God's name forever and ever". 

The Psalm itself is a puzzle, a HEBREW ACROSTIC, whereby each line is arranged sequentially by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Furthermore, the entire alphabet is lined up in praise of God.  1- (Bible Gateway, Psalm 145)

As a song it focuses first on individual, generational, and corporate commitments to PRAISE GOD. These puzzle pieces are then interspersed with specific references to God's greatness and goodness—pieces labeled power, fame, glory, might, gracious, merciful, compassionate, faithful, just, and kind.

So have we solved the Psalm 145 acrostic puzzle?  God is described as gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God is faithful and upholds all who are falling. God hears our cry and reaches out to save us.  Such is the nature of God's Grace.  

In this Psalm, we, the people of God, are called to respond to God’s grace with praise and blessing, worship and glorification.

In thanksgiving, we are to spread the word to all  generations, about this all mighty God. We are to sing to the Lord as long as we live. 2- (reflection by Kathy Mathews Huey)  

Which brings us to our THIRD PUZZLE this morning - the puzzle of STEWARDSHIP.  Which asks the question: 

HOW HAS GOD's Grace touched your lives, and how will you express your gratitude?  How will you give thanks?  Not everybody figures out the concept of gratitude.  Some people just don't get  it.  There's an old story about a grandmother who was walking along the beach one day with her grandson when a huge wave crashed on shore and swept the little boy out to sea.

The woman looked up to heaven and cried out, “Oh Lord, this is my only grandson. How can you take him away from me like this?  My son will not understand.  My daughter-in-law will die from grief.  Help me, Lord!”

A moment later, another huge wave crashed onto the beach, depositing the little boy back at his grandmother’s feet, a little wet and tousled but otherwise safe and sound.

The grandmother hugged him, then looked up to heaven pointing her finger at God, yelling: “HE HAD A HAT"

Contrast this view with Barbara Bruns' comment at staff meeting this week about her concert a few evenings ago.   Barbara said, "I GIVE THANKS FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF PLAYING THIS MUSIC."

Stewardship should not be about paying the bills or covering a budget (or making up a deficit).  Stewardship is our participation in the creative process that continues even today, God’s creative hand at work in the world.  Stewardship is our response to all that is expressed in Psalm 145:  God’s goodness and the vision of how things are supposed to be -- how God intends them to be. 

The theologian Walter Bruggeman writes:  “Elemental gratitude and generosity are at the root of our human life in God’s world:  Does our worldview begin with such an idea?  Is there a connection between our worldview and our giving?  Does our giving have anything to do with who we think God is, and who we think we are in the light of God’s love?  If abundance is God’s big idea, why do we seem more ruled by a scarcity mentality?  There’s never enough, we think and hear, never enough to make sure everyone is fed and sheltered and clothed and given medical care and educated.  There’s never enough to do the ministry we might do, so we cut back and cut corners…it doesn’t sound very much like abundance and it doesn’t sound much like this psalm, does it?”  3-(WalterBruggeman quoted in Ibid.)

Stewardship is hope for the world, it’s gratitude for what we’ve received, and it’s generosity, sharing the abundance of God's blessings.  We hear about God in this puzzle, in this psalm, but we also hear a call within it, an expectation of our participation in the song.  STEWARDSHIP, HOPE, GRATITUDE, GENEROSITY, GIVING, THAT IS THE GREAT SONG THAT WE SING. 

SO AS WE COMPLETE THE CHRIST CHURCH JIGSAW, THE ONE PUZZLE I DO LIKE VERY MUCH, AS WE BRING OUR GIFTS TODAY AND TURN IN OUR PLEDGES AND PUZZLE PIECES, WE ARE THANKING GOD, PRAISING GOD, AND EXPRESSING OUR LONGING FOR THE DREAM OF GOD, FOR WHAT IS YET TO BE FOR US AS A COMMUNITY OF JESUS CHRIST.

EVERYONE IS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE BIG PICTURE of THE CHRIST CHURCH PUZZLE.  Each of your pieces fits in where it belongs.  Each piece depends on other pieces, or the puzzle will have big holes in it.  You know when all the pieces of a puzzle are completed, all linked together, then the pieces lose their borders.  Every piece is essential to the whole of the puzzle.  Every piece must be in its right place in order for us to see WHAT A vibrant CHURCH WE ARE.

Each of you is a piece of this puzzle.  Out of  gratitude for God's blessings, I challenge each of you to help us ensure that  CHRIST CHURCH is COMPLETE.   

GOD BLESS YOU ALL.     AMEN

Last Published: November 14, 2013 10:47 AM