SOTMOGs The Sunday Sermon – November 1, 2015

cheap trick lyrics  1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NKJ Translation)

 (Sorry, audio not available this week) SOTMOGs

Has anyone guessed yet? Or known already?  “SOTMOGs?!”

Well, let’s pray first … And now, listen for the Word of God … Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 from the New King James translation …

Let (everyone) so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court.  In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but (the One) who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

The word of the Lord.

Now … anyone? From the first verse:  Let (everyone) so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God … SOTMOGs. That’s us! Stewards of the mysteries of God …

To be true to this reading, I should tell you at the outset that 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.  But for our discernment this morning, I am including each one of us in Paul’s report, too:  “Consider us – consider yourselves and consider me – as stewards of the mysteries of God.”

It’s curious … For the past four weeks we have been considering ourselves stewards.  We have been talking about what it may mean to be good stewards, trustworthy stewards.  But we’ve been talking about the gifts we have received from and give back to God in terms of time, and talents, and money.  We have been asking ourselves how, and why, we are asked to give back to the church, this church, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, through our service, with our skills, and in our pledges of money.  We’ve been talking about being good stewards.  But …we’ve not been talking about being stewards of the “mysteries” of God, surely.  It’ll be no mystery whether or not we meet our 2016 budget.  It’ll be no mystery whether or not we get enough volunteers for the holiday events ahead of us.  We may not have the answers to those things yet, but we’ll know all that soon enough.  So, what in the world does Paul mean when he says we have been entrusted with stewardship of the mysteries of God?!

Well … the mysteries of God refers to nothing other than the gospel message itself.  The good news of life that Paul has, that the community in Corinth has, and that we have been given.  We have been entrusted with the secret wisdom of God that decrees salvation for us.  The mysteries of God for the Christian community are found in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our Christ.  What has been entrusted to us in Jesus is unconditional love – the greatest mystery of all to us who just can’t seem to get it.  We are stewards, keepers, guardians of the hidden wisdom of Christ’s saving love.  Even when we lay it out as simply as that, it remains mysterious.  How do we understand that call, to express the love of God in the way of Jesus the Christ, let alone live it out?  How do we begin to be good stewards of this mystery?

We begin, of course, together.  We begin as we have begun every Sunday for as long as many of us can remember.  We begin as our parents and grandparents began for generations before us.  We begin as the men and women of this particular community have begun for one hundred and fifty years:  by gathering together to sing, pray, listen, learn and share the mystery.

This morning, we’re remembering all those who have gathered, who brought us and taught us here, over the years. All the “sotmogs” of the past that have brought us together today.  All Saints’ Day is a time to rejoice in all who, through the ages, have faithfully “stewarded the mysteries of God.” The day reminds us that we are part of one continuing, living communion of saints.  It is a time to claim our kinship with the “glorious company of apostles … the noble fellowship of prophets … and the white-robed army of martyrs.”  It is a time to express our gratitude for all who, in times of trial as well as times of joy, kept the faith; for those who took the gospel to the ends of the earth and to their kitchen tables; for prophetic voices who have called the church to be faithful in life and service, for all who have witnessed to God’s justice and peace in every nation as well as their own families.

To rejoice with all the faithful across generations expands our awareness of a great company of witnesses above and around us like a cloud. It lifts us out of our preoccupation with our own immediate situation and any discouragements of our present. In the knowledge that others have persevered, we are encouraged to endure.  Reminded that God was with the faithful stewards of the past, we are reassured that God is with us today, entrusting us with the mystery of Christ’s love, no matter how poorly we may share that mystery.

On this Sunday, we remember once again the lives of those in our congregation who died this year. We are thankful for the lives and witness of Ted, Gin, Bill, Ruth, Adele, Margie, Nita, and Harriet.  This morning let us remember all those in our lives of faith who played a part in bringing us here and who have joined the “glorious company of the Saints of light.”

There are slips of paper in each pew. Will those on the aisle end of the pews pick up the papers, take one or two, and pass them down to the others in your pew.  Write on those slips the names of anyone – family, friends, figures of history – anyone who has played a part in your life of faith and has left this life to join with God.  We want to bring those names forward and place them on this board with the pictures of those we have lost just this year.  Take your time with this:  Write, come forward, place the names together on this board, and take some time to remember.  Allow the music and the sanctuary to join you together with those you love and with those who love God.

We are trustworthy stewards of the mysteries of God when we break bread together, wash it down with our common cup and gather together to celebrate al that has been, all that is, and all that will be through the common faith and trust we have in the love of our Lord and God.

Next week we will provide for the year ahead through our pledges. This week, this morning, we are Stewards of the Mysteries of God as we remember all those who provided for this year and for our lives together with our Lord and God …

(Music will play as the congregation comes forward to place names on the board.)

Let us pray …

Eternal God, you have knit your people of all times and places into one communion in the mystical body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant us your Holy Spirit of encouragement and strength so we may persevere in our leg of the relay race of faith until such time as we join the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on the Way. Keep us one with all who proclaim your gospel until such time as we finish our race, collapsing into your arms where you wait for us at the finish of your new creation begun in Christ, the pacesetter and perfecter of the way, the truth, and life everlasting. Amen.

If you are comfortably able, please stand with me and let us sing together … Amen.

Reverend Joel A. Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / November 1, 2015