Job 38:1-7, 34-41
1From out of a storm,
the LORD said to Job:
2Why do you talk so much
when you know so little?
3Now get ready to face me!
Can you answer
the questions I ask?
4How did I lay the foundation
for the earth?
Were you there?
5Doubtless you know who decided
its length and width.
6What supports the foundation?
Who placed the cornerstone,
7while morning stars sang,
and angels rejoiced?
34Can you order the clouds
to send a downpour,
35or will lightning flash
at your command?
36Did you teach birds to know
that rain or floods
are on their way?
37Can you count the clouds
or pour out their water
38on the dry, lumpy soil?
39When lions are hungry,
do you help them hunt?
40Do you send an animal
into their den?
41And when starving young ravens
cry out to me for food,
do you satisfy their hunger?
I always find this part of the story disturbing. I mean, Job is suffering, through no fault of his own, and he just wants to ask God face to face, why? I’m faithful. I’ve done everything you’ve asked. I have not lost my faith, indeed, I am even more certain that you will judge me fairly when you see the truth of the situation. I’m being punished unjustly and you are a just God. Job stands there secure in his knowledge of God’s power and grace and mercy and waits for God.
And God turned on him! God says “Where were you when I created all this? And where are you even now when the creatures of the world need food, or when rain has to be sent over a drought area? Are you helping me do my work? Or are you just caring for yourself?”
What have you done to help?
We look around and see so few people here. What are we doing wrong?
I mean, we’re doing this whole Job thing lately
so we just have to ask
What have we done to deserve this?
Are we totally innocent and faithful like Job and just being tested by the devil?
what have we done to help God?
I can go on here talking about the things we have done in the past
It is what I usually do at this time of the year, after all
the time of year when we talk about our heritage as Disciples
the things we are proud of as Delhaven.
I can point to the back wall and talk about awards we have won
about all the things we have participated in
I can talk about the past glories and honors
about the community center
and all the ways we have reached out to help our neighborhood
all the social action that we have done
And I can talk about the programs that we support today
Girl scouting and the preschool and the new preschool
ways that we are helping the future of children
ways we are helping lift our neighbors out of poverty
out of illiteracy and out of hopelessness
how we feed the hungry with our food ministry and with the Treasure Box program
I can say all those things that make us feel better about ourselves
even as we look around at these empty seats
I can point out how Uy and I were part of yesterday’s Regional worship service
How Hank serves our Region with the golf committee,
Doug with Global ministries and me with communications
and how Linda serves with general church boards and committees
and Kate teaches classes to ministers seeking to be licensed.
I can talk about all the work that we do for the Church
But I don’t think those things really help us feel better about ourselves,
especially when we look at all the empty pews. And still,
maybe even more so, we want to ask God – why? Why are we not growing?
June asked me that yesterday. She said she was so worried about the church,
about how we keep getting smaller and so many of those who are here are older
and not as able to do things as we once were. And these are legitimate concerns.
If the point of church was to be an organization that raised money to help the poor,
if it was supposed to be just like any other charity organization,
then we would be in pretty sad shape.
But the point of the church is to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world.
The point of coming together for worship is to share God’s love with each other,
to learn from and be challenged by the Word of God,
to be changed by that Word, and then
to go out into the world and change it.
The business of Church is to be the center from which change comes about.
Delhaven is at the center of a lot of change. We may not be seeing growth,
but I am seeing so many wonderful things happening around us these days, with us as the center. Things that are happening because we are here.
Maurice can tell you that he has to fill the baptistery fairly often because one of the Spanish speaking congregations we share the building with have someone to baptize.
My friend Pastor Mary Hollifield of the West Covina UMC will be baptizing an adult member of her congregation, who wants to be immersed, here on November 1st.
There is a new Disciples Church in town, Iglesia Ven a Jesus. The congregation is almost all people who have never been part of any church, and have never been baptized. They meet in Alvara Regalado’s living room. He is also a new Disciple and learning to be a Disciples minister. They are being guided toward baptism by Martin Garcia, a Disciples pastor. And when they are ready, they will come here to be baptized.
And we have Abigail Conway, coming forward today to be baptized. A young girl who loves Jesus and wants to give her life to God. She has spent quite a bit of thought lately on how she can serve the church, what she can do for Delhaven. Right now it’s mostly about lighting candles.
When we think about it, isn’t bringing light exactly what Christians are supposed to do? Isn’t that the way we are able to help God, today, here and now? Isn’t our job to bring light into the darkness, to bring knowledge of God’s love, manifest in Jesus Christ, to all the world? Abigail’s lighting the candles symbolizes perfectly what it is we are to do as Church. A few years ago we said we wanted to be the light on the corner that shines into the neighborhood. A couple of years later we drew circles of community with Delhaven at the center. My sisters and brothers, I suggest to you that this is exactly what we are today. We are the light at the center of many intersecting circles of community. All come together here, and though we may not see the difference, I know that we are making a difference. We are, in fact, helping in God’s work, reaching out in love in so many different ways, showing the light of Christ to many who may not have seen it without us.
Let’s prepare for the baptism of this little light among us by singing the Disciples Affirmation of Faith, ‘We Your People, God, Confessing.”