The Sunday Sermon: Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 3, 2018
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:1
So, I used this title before, about three years ago. Does anyone remember what the “acronym” means? Any guesses? “SOTMOGs?!”
Well, let’s pray first … And now, listen for the Word of God in one verse …
Read 1 Corinthians 4:1 from the New King James translation: Let (everyone) so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
So there you are (again). Stewards of the mysteries of God … SOTMOGs. That’s us. Our NRSV pew bible translation says, “Stewards of God’s mysteries,” which would be S-O-G-M and harder to pronounce … so I went with the New King James version this morning.
In this letter to the community in Corinth, Paul is speaking about himself and his fellow travelers. He includes Apollos, his helper in carrying out the work he began in Corinth, and perhaps he also includes all the Apostles at work in the first century communities growing up around the Way of Jesus of Nazareth. We were following that movement, the Way, through Eastertide. And we celebrated its beginning, it’s birth on Pentecost just two weeks ago.
In our exploration and discernment this morning, I am proclaiming each and every one of us “SOTMOGs,” too. “Consider yourselves and consider me – as Stewards Of The Mysteries Of God.”
In fact that’s what we’ll consider ourselves for this whole summer.
We’ve been running an announcement, a request really, in the bulletin since early May. I want to use the Sundays this summer, or at least a good portion of them, to explore and preach on the some of the “mysteries” that you are interested in or most troubled by or maybe just those you don’t know very well and want to know more about. If we’re “SOTMOGS,” after all, we really should be better acquainted with, and more articulate about, the “MOGs.”
As we begin this summer discovery allow me to remind you: It is the nature of a “mystery” that it is ultimately unknowable and inexplicable, at least with our temporal imaginations and our worldly vocabulary. Our theology as whole, I’ve often reminded us, is “all that we think we know about a mystery.” But, finally, it – “God,” the Sacred, the Divine, the Holy, the “More” – is not fully figured out. Just expressed and articulated as best we can – primarily for us Christians through our understanding of Jesus, but also the bible, our church’s tradition, and our own personal experience of Love (capital “L”) and Life (capital “L”). And the best articulations of the mysteries of God, I believe, happen in our hearts, not our heads, and through our hands and feet, not in our words and speech. That said, speak we must. Explore and explain we must. Harry Emerson Fosdick almost a century ago noted that “nothing in all the world is so much worth thinking of as God, Christ, the Bible, sin and salvation, the divine purposes for humankind, and life everlasting.”
We do that every time we gather together in this space. But we explore the mysteries that our church calendar suggests – Advent, Lent, Eastertide, and Ordinary Time; or the mysteries that our own congregation’s needs require – stewardship, annual meetings, and current events; or (much less frequently, I acknowledge) those mysteries our lectionary readings provide. So, this summer I want to hear directly from you. What “MOGs” are most mysterious to you? And let’s think more deeply about them, speak more eloquently of them, so we can live more fully into them.
There’s a “call” in your bulletin insert again this week that includes a line for you to write down the “mystery” for which – to which? about which? – you want to be a better steward. We’ve gotten some responses already, about eight or ten. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, over half of them are about death and dying and the mystery of eternal life, resurrection life, “what’s next.” The few others are about how the Bible might “relate” more directly to our daily lives, how we might use our faith convictions to convince ourselves that we have “enough” and don’t need to consume and devour more, especially when it comes at the expense of others who don’t have enough. But I want more … of these. We don’t have “enough” explorations, in this case! So …
Take out your bulletin insert and think of one of the mysteries of your faith. Think of one of the biggest questions you have about Christianity and your Christian life. Maybe it’s a question you’ve always shied away from, or one you’ve never been able to explain to others. Wire something down now.
Think “cosmically:” salvation, resurrection, eternal life. Think worldly: justification, incarnation, sanctification. Think religiously: ecumenical – other Christian denominations, interfaith – other world religions, “no-faith” – atheism and humanism. Think doctrinally: scripture, our book of confessions, our church’s history and tradition.
Take a few minutes …
Please be sure to place your slips into the plates with your morning offering in a few moments.
We’ll offer this opportunity for a few more weeks in the bulletin. Next week, I’m heading to Montreat with eight of our youth (two more than last year – yea!). And we’ll share some of our experiences, ones you helped us have with your donations to the Youth Ministry all year long, on the 17th. And then we’ll look to be better “SOTMOGs” – not just stewards, but Sharers of the mysteries of God – later this month, and through July, at least. So you have more opportunities to share in the weeks ahead, even more time in this service to write something down. For now, we move on …
I find it so beautifully and wonderfully meaningful that we have our Communion table set this morning. There is no greater mystery for us than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – a life, death, and resurrection that allows us all a glimpse into our own lives, our own deaths, and our own resurrection. No greater mystery and no more tangible expression of that mystery than the bread we eat together and the cup we share with one another. Bread and cup to express the mystery of Christ, not fully disclosing it, but touching it, revealing it enough to assure us of our own humanity and our own divinity.
If you are comfortably able, please stand with me and let us sing together and prepare. Amen.
Reverend Joel A. Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / June 3, 2018