Sunday, August 28 – “What Do You See?”

View this recorded version of Sunday Worship from August 28, 2022.

Bible Verses

Jeremiah 1:1, 4-11

Reflection: What Do You See?

Excerpts from the sermon by Rev. Dr. Fred Grewe:

“I like that the God presented in the call of these two prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah) is not a one-size-fits-all kind of God but as it says in this text ‘before you were born in your mother’s womb I knew you’.

It’s a God that knows each of us individually: knows our name, just as we are, and relates to each of us as individuals.

That’s one of the things I take away from this text that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and has an ability to somehow communicate to each of us in a way that each of us might really hear without freaking us out too bad most of the time.

And so the question I I would like to start the reflection this morning with is: What kind of God to you relate to?

… As we navigate life, and we try to figure out our place in it, we create a story about who I am and why I am. The 4 things that we create our story out of are the things that happen to us are:

1.) our actual life experiences the good things and the bad things, the the celebratory things, and the traumatic things, the things that happen to us is all part of how we understand reality.

2.) Our nuclear family experience has a profound influence on our lives and helps write a script that we try to live out even unto our dying days. And so that’s a powerful influence.

3.) The culture that we live in is a powerful inference on my understanding of myself in my story. In this time in this place, and and that cultural influence would include things like the geography I live in.

4.) And then the other thing, I would add, is this: what people, philosophers, and theologians and psychologists call our ‘God concept’–whatever it is we think about the divine or not.

These 4 things: our life experiences, our nuclear family experiences, our culture, and our God concept are invisible things running in the background that really impact greatly how we live our life, how we behave, and how we see ourselves.

And so what is our God concept?

Some people see God, or when they hear the word God, they think of a judge, and they think of someone who As soon as you step outside the line wants to squish you like a bug on the windshield, and smack you up side of the head and make you do right. So that’s one God concept.

Another God concept is God is all loving, and God loves us all. And we should just all be nice to one another and relax, because God is just sweet and kind, and going to help us through.

And then, for some people God is just an observer–just sits back, created everything, now sits back, and just sort of watches it all unfold the classic images like a watchmaker or clock maker created it all and now just sits back and is amused by what happens.

And then for some people God is omnipotent–the theological word–that God can do everything, will do everything, shake everything up.

So these are different concepts that people have of God and the name on the church doesn’t necessarily matter.

…But these ideas, what I’m suggesting, affect us at a real level on how we behave, and how we engage with life, and how we deal with these uncertainties that I started talking about, and how we navigate life.

…From Hebrews 13: 5, where God says ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you’. My reality, that I’ve experienced from this God concept that I have, has changed my behavior to believe that God is with us through the difficult and the good, the hard, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful–but that we’re not alone and it’s changed how I live my life, how I act as a human being.

…Whatever it is you believe about the divine has a profound impact on how you deal with reality, how you live your life, just as Jeremiah had to live his life, just as Isaiah had to live his life.

Whatever it is, we think of the divine has a profound impact.

And so the question I want to leave you with: ‘what is your God concept?’

Is it helpful? Is it accurate? Is it liberating?

…What do you see when when you think on this divine other, when you imagine looking in in the face of God?

May it be beautiful, wonderful, and loving, and accepting and liberating. That’s my prayer.”