Created for God



Sermon Title “Created for God” by Pastor Rosanna McFadden

Good morning! I am so glad to be with you today! For me, this day hits the trifecta of things that I love.  First of all, this season is one I look forward to every year — the beauty and activities which come with planting and growing.  I am not a farmer: my family will eat this year regardless of what I plant, but planting and tending vegetables and flowers gives me joy.  As you know, several of our ministries here at Creekside revolve around planting, growing, and tending.  Secondly, I love both of the scripture texts which are part of this morning’s worship — especially Psalm 19 which was the basis our call to worship and children’s story.  And finally, I love this time of year because I get to celebrate my birthday.  Terry Rassi and I share a birthday, so I trust he and Irene will be celebrating, too.

I’m not going to say any more today about my birthday, and probably not much about Creekside ministries with our gardens, but Psalm 19 and Romans 8 are definitely worth looking into in greater detail, and I want to intentionally put these Old Testament and New Testament texts in conversation with each other.  Psalm 19 has two distinct sections, and it’s fair to say they relate to one another.  Verses 1-6 tell how the heavens — the stars and the sun and the day and the night — proclaim the glory of God.  The heavens always tell the glory of God — sometimes in the whisper of a quiet starry night, sometimes in the look-at-me shout of a solar eclipse, or the song of praise of the northern lights.  I know at least one member of Creekside who was up late last night looking of colors splashed across the sky.  I got to see a modest version of the northern lights for the first time on Friday night, right down the road in Elkhart.  It was remarkable and awe-inspiring.

God’s glory is written in the heavens as clearly as if God were speaking it, but of course, it’s a story which isn’t told with words, it is told in what we see and experience in Creation.  Verses 7-14 are about the law of the Lord, which of course, we have received in words.  This law is not only right and true, it is valuable, and as sweet as honey.  The law expresses God’s authority and wisdom, but this is not contrary in any way to what we experience in Creation; it is another chorus of the same song — or maybe the harmony to the melody of Creation.  Heaven and earth agree about who God is, because God created them both. Hang on to that idea.  Got it?

Hundreds of years later, Paul is writing to the church in Rome.  The social context and purpose of this letter are very different than Psalm 19, which was likely sung in worship.  Paul’s letter to the Romans is not something you’d ever try to sing: it is an intricate and persuasive theological argument.  It is one of Paul’s final letters, and perhaps even a combination of some of his letters.  It is written to a church which is struggling to find its identity and which has been experiencing resistance and persecution.  And into Romans chapter 8, Paul weaves an extraordinary message of promise and hope, and he uses the metaphor of creation — creation longing with eager hope for God to bring forth something new, the way a woman groans (and sometimes yells and curses, in my experience) with labor pains.

I want us to consider these two texts in conversation, because I think we can romanticize Creation in a way which keeps it at a distance from us.

Mountains   Creation can be grand and distant, for sure, like this mountain range in Colorado.  Bonnie and Roger Neal will be heading out there for the summer at the end of this month.  Steep, rugged country may be beautiful to look at from a distance, but it poses some challenges for getting groceries home, not to mention electricity and internet connections.

Beach  If you like lower elevations, you can always head for the beach, as Angi and Scott Harney will be doing in June.  All I can say is I highly recommend it.

Poppies  Closer to home — like right along the driveway of the church — we have a patch of wildflowers which has gotten plenty of water this week.  We hope it will continue to grow and re-seed and be a place of sanctuary for the birds of the air and the bees of the field.

But these beautiful, placid images are just one side of Creation. 

Thunderstorm  This is also part of the character of Creation.  Nature can be wild and threatening — if you are outside and see a sky which looks like this, it’s time to head for cover.

Tornado  Nature can also be destructive — indiscriminately so.  The tornado doesn’t care if you are a righteous person or not.

And although we often think of Creation as Nature — rocks and trees and skies and seas — it can be much more intimate than that.  

Baby  This is certainly an act of Creation, not only of two people, but an imprint of the image of the Creator.

Children  This group is also an expression of the Creator — and I would expect that it can turn wild and stormy at times.

Couple  These folks are also part of Creation, even though it looks as if their story has not been a happy — at least not a prosperous — one.

I wanted to share a variety of images of Creation to underline a point.  I believe it to be the same message that the psalmist and the Apostle Paul are making: the purpose of every created thing is to give glory to God.  God created things — and people — infinite variety.  Mountains and microbes, whales and waterfalls, trees and tortoises, me and you.  We are all different — our purpose is the same.  Sometimes giving glory to God is raising our hands in joyful praise; a beautiful day on the beach.  Sometimes giving glory to God is groaning in labor — a storm of opposing forces which we are in the midst of, trying to discover what God is doing, and what we’re supposed to be doing.

You don’t have to have given birth to a child to understand what Paul is writing about.  I have no idea how much Paul knew about childbirth, but I can state with some confidence that he never experienced it first-hand.  But labor is a wonderful image to help us understand the discomfort, pain, even agony, depending on what stage you’re in, of trying to bring forth something new.  New things are not necessarily easy or comfortable things, and they may bring their own character and demands.   Paul, because his audience has been experiencing doubt and persecution, reminds them that in the midst of this storm, they need to trust what they cannot yet see.  Verses 24 and 25  say, “For in hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he has seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

The specifics of how we are to give glory to God may be unclear — or if they are clear at this time in our lives, they may not be as clear at some other time.  That does not change our purpose, only our understanding of how we are to live into it.  Sometimes we are basking in the sunshine and sometimes we are walking in the rain.  Or maybe we feel like we’ve just been hit by a tornado.  It is still God’s Creation, and we have still been created by God, in order to give glory to God in whatever ways we can.  The psalmist and Paul are singing the same song, although here is a variation: in Psalm 19, it is the gift of God’s law, and our willingness to follow it which give glory to God.  Paul talks about the redemption of our bodies and being adopted as children of God.  God’s law is perfect, but our ability to follow it is not.  The redemption of our bodies and our adoption as children of God came through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was with God in the beginning and has given us the gift of becoming children of God.Whether we are planting vegetables for our neighbors, tending a garden for a place of prayer, or pulling weeds so that new things can grow, we are participating in the hope of things we cannot yet see.  We put our trust in God to bring forth something new in, even in situations which are uncertain and painful.  We give glory to the Creator because we have been created for a purpose, and we are called children of God.  Amen.