God’s Gonna Trouble the Water

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Reading from the Gospel                   John 1:1-10

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,

and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.

 

Sermon      God’s Gonna Trouble the Water

 

Wade in the water, wade in the water children

Wade in the water,

God’s gonna trouble the water

 

Seems like it . . . doesn’t it?

Seems like the waters have really been troubled lately.

Think about it . . .

when was the last time you sat down at your computer .

. . or turned on the TV or some other video devise . . .

or listened to your car radio . . .

or read a newspaper . . .

Seen any good news lately?

How about just this week alone . . .

 

Speculation is running rampant on why a deranged man

with an army’s worth of weapons and ammunition

decided to open fire into a crowd of people

at a music festival . . .

People are still suffering from the after-effects of hurricanes that have torn up Texas and Puerto Rico

and small Caribbean island nations . . .

Mexico City is still digging out from a horrible

earthquake . . .

Ugly words continue to be screamed

from both sides of the political aisle . . .

Tension continues to grow between Palestinians

and Israelis . . .

North Korea and Donald keep on hurling insults

at one another . . . just one step away

from hurling missiles . . .

Mothers, fathers, teenagers, and children

are being swept up and deported . . .

as families are torn apart . . .

The debate over health insurance threatens to leave

more and more people without any protection . . .

The cries of those who are homeless and those living

in poverty continue to touch our hearts . . .

And to top it all off . . . climate change . . .

whether you believe it or not . . .

whether its man-made or because of natural cycles

. . . is real and it’s happening.

It’s all kind of depressing, isn’t it.

 

As a matter of fact . . . there are so many Americans

suffering from political anxiety

that doctors have now coined a term for their distress —

President Trump Stress Disorder.

The New York Daily News recently reported that

“patients are turning up in therapists’ offices

across the country reporting symptoms

including insomnia, hypervigilance,

and the inability to pull themselves away

from the 24-hour news cycle.

Therapists report that their practices

are more robust than ever.

Deborah Cooper, a California-based therapist said she

can hardly accommodate all of her patients.

“I have people I have not seen in literally 30 years

(who) have called me to come back in

because of trauma,” she said.

“I am more than full. I am overworking.”

She cited Trump’s lackluster condemnation

of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

as one in a string of anxiety-inducing events

that are “coming too fast and furious”

for her patients — and her practice —

to handle.”

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Wednesday, August 16, 2017)

 

So after the week we’ve just had . . .

there are quite a few folk who think

God’s been troubling the waters . . .

but if that’s the case . . .

why has God been troubling the waters?

 

Well, it seems some preachers . . . like Pat Robertson .

. . claim that events like the mass murder

in Las Vegas is God’s response to a nation

who doesn’t worship our President . . .

That, my friends, is not even worth a comment.

 

The simple fact is I don’t believe God punishes us

for our sins . . . not at all . . .

God doesn’t send hurricanes banging on our front doors

. . . God doesn’t use deranged people with guns

to teach us a lesson . . .

but I do believe God weeps with us

when bad things happen to good people

 

If you think about it . . . God isn’t some great puppeteer

in the sky . . . pulling all the strings . . .

making everything happen in some kind of

great cosmic choreographed production . . .

nope . . . that’s not how God operates . . .

actually . . . that’s quite the opposite

of how God relates to us.

Think about it this way . . .

one of the greatest gifts and blessings

God ever gave us . . .

is simply the freedom to live our lives

either in harmony with our Creator . . .

or in conflict with our Creator . . .

God gives us a choice in this world . . .

freedom of choice.

 

Our book study group is reading The Book of Joy . . .

a five day conversation shared

by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Tutu says this about the freedom God gave us long ago

. . . “God created us and said, Go now, my child.

You have freedom.

And God has such an incredible reverence

for that freedom that God

would much rather we went freely to hell

than compel us to come to heaven.

“Yes,” Tutu reminds us, “we’re capable

of the most awful atrocities.

We can give a catalog (of them).

 

And God weeps until there are those who say

I do want to try to do something.

It is good to remember that we have

a fantastic capacity for goodness.”

And then, recalling the Paris terrorist attacks, Tutu says

. . . “So many people were despairing at humanity’s

obvious inhumanity . . .

Yes, we do have setbacks, but you must keep

everything in the right perspective.

The world is getting better.

Think about the rights of women

or how slavery was considered morally justified

a few hundred years ago.

It takes time. We are growing and learning

how to be compassionate, how to be caring,

how to be human.”

 

Now I get it . . . that we haven’t yet arrived

in the Promised Land . . .

not by any stretch of the imagination . . .

because quite simply . . . the human race . . .

all of God’s children . . .

still have a lot more growing and learning to do

before this whole world becomes a compassionate

and loving and caring place

where everyone is welcome to sit at the same table . . .

trust me . . .

Jesus Christ will take care of that one day.

But in the meantime . . .

things are going to keep on changing . . .

they’re changing all the time . . .

because God keeps on troubling the waters . . .

stirring them up . . .

not to harm us . . .

but to remind us that God made

an everlasting covenant of love and grace

with each and every one of us.

It’s just that every so often we need God

to stir up those waters . . . to trouble those waters . .

. to let creation groan a little bit . . .

so that we can become the people

God created us to be.

 

You see . . . stirred waters are life-giving . . .

just like a mountain stream flowing over

and around the rocks . . .

the water becomes turbulent. . .

which allows oxygen to enrich the water . . .

making it life-giving to the fish living in it.

So it is with God . . . by stirring the waters . . .

troubling the waters . . .

our lives are enriched by God’s grace and love . . .

providing us with life.

These waters . . . here in this baptismal font . . .

are going to be troubled today . . . stirred up . . .

to provide life-giving grace and love

to four young children.

These waters will change their lives . . .

these waters will change all of our lives . . .

 

because they are a symbol of God’s creation

out of the chaos that once filled this world.

Now I know there’s still a bit of chaos left over . . .

Christ has asked us to follow him

so that this world will continue to grow better.

God’s been taming the chaos of this world

since the beginning of creation . . . and one day . . .

one day . . .

this world will be what it was created to be . . .

and so will you and I.

 

That’s why we’re really here this morning . . .

to have our faith and hope renewed

in the waters of God’s creation . . .

to feel the presence of Jesus Christ with us . . .

even as the world around us struggles

with hate and evil.

 

Fred Craddock captures the essence

of being in the presence of Jesus

by describing as the biggest myth in the world

something a mother says to her child who has fallen

down and bumped or scraped an arm or leg:

“Here, let me kiss it and make it well,” she says

as she gathers the child in her lap.

Is it the kiss that makes it well?

No. It’s those moments in a mother’s lap.

It’s that close and intimate,” Craddock says.

Jesus Christ invites us to sit for a while

in the lap of God . . . who knows us,

who hurts when we hurt . . . who experiences our fears,

our anxiety . . . our joys—a God who loves us.”

 

That’s what we are called to remember

when the world seems so dark and fearful . . .

when our lives seem to be filled with anxiety and stress

when we toss and turn through the night . . .

. . . we are called to remember a God who loves us . . .

and to remember the words of the Gospel

that the light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness will never overcome it.

 

Just keep wading in the water . . . wading in the water .

. . but don’t you worry . . .

God’s gonna trouble the waters.

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

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