First Congregational Church
September 3, 2017
13th Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 1:1-3, 11, 14-25
“And the Lord God Made Them All”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
So how does one properly identify a dogwood tree? By the bark! And how does one give a brief explanation of an acorn? In a nutshell, it’s an oak tree. Did you know that I can cut down a dead tree just by looking at it? It’s true. I saw it with my own eyes!
This morning’s sermon began around August 10, as I began to revisit familiar trees while in Canada on vacation. Some of those trees were uprooted, exposing their large circumferenced yet very shallow roots, but were still able to grow into magnificent beings, before wind upseated them. Others were familiar by their spot in the distance, being a target when crossing a large portion of the lake. All those trees and all that sky and all that water got me to thinking about the abundance of blessing all around us - even as we sit in a boat or a pew. And it all began, begins - with God’s creation. To understand where all this thinking took me - and us - I chose a smattering of verses from the first chapter of Genesis, with kudos to author James Herriot.
Genesis 1:1-3, 11, 14-25
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
As so often happens, I came across an article that spoke to this morning’s message, a note from a piece called “Choosing Church,” by Marilyn McEntyre. She said, “Distracted, reluctant, confused, or apathetic you may be on any given Sunday, but if you go, something will happen. A word, a phrase, a flicker of candlelight, a gesture, an image, an extended moment of silence—all these have their effects. On Sundays, and they are not infrequent, when I don't really feel like getting dressed and going to church, but do it anyway, I invariably leave with a gift I could not have foreseen. It's not always the sermon—a good sermon is hard to find.”
As I began the 475 mile trip home, and as I thought about the multitude of blessings, and wanting more of an over-all feel, rather than a specific point, I came up with this “idea.” Perhaps the idea will inspire your own thoughts and create your own overwhelmed-ness. Your part in this sermon will not be to merely listen, but you will get to respond with the sermon title, “And the Lord God Made Them All,” when I give you the cue.
There is water that is running and water that is still and water that is great as in lakes and oceans and icebergs, and water that is small as in that which seeps from rocks and can grow mold in a basement, that falls and rises and comes out of the sky. Water comes in creeks, seas, ponds, seas, lagoons, streams, and rapids. There is water that is cold and old, as in glaciers and water that is hot as in geysers and pot holes, waters that flow south and waters that flow north in watersheds and the Lord God made them all.
There are red headed people and black headed people and brown headed people, white headed people and people with hair that boasts the colors of the rainbow, people with no hair, and the Lord God made them all.
There is light that comes from the sun and the moon and light that comes from lightening and light that is noticeable from shadows, light that is reflected off clouds, and fire and fireflies, and the Lord God made them all.
There are birds that eat fish and birds that eat meat and birds that eat plants and birds that eat insects, birds that are all one color like ravens and crows and indigo buntings and multi-colored birds such as toucans and parrots, and distinctive colors like cardinals and chickadees, birds that mainly fly, birds that mainly swim, birds that can’t fly and don’t swim, and the Lord God made them all.
There are people that need a lot of sleep and people that don’t need much sleep, early risers and late risers, lighter skinned people, and people with darker skin and people with freckled skin and scaly skin and smooth and oily skin, shoulders that hold arms and that can carry burdens, that can lean and be leaned on, arms that can carry and hug and embrace and spread out and lift up and hold near and push up and push down, hands for holding sweetheart’s when sitting in church and the Lord God made them all.
There is soil that is fine as in dust and sand that can be made into glass and brick and concrete and adobe, and soil that is rocky as in gravel and soil that is thick as in clay and soil that is black as in dirt, land that is arid and poor and land that is rugged as in mountains and land that is fertile as in farming and land that is rich and the Lord God made them all.
There is time as in days and nights and minutes and seconds and nano seconds and weeks and months and years and decades and centuries and eternity, and the Lord God made them all.
There are trees that are ancient and pliable and wave easily and trees that are stiff and stand tall and proud, trees that make us smile and turn colors and trees that make us think as in the cross, trees with white trunks and grey trunks and trees with smooth trunks and trees with rough trunks, tall trees and short trees, trees that peels easily and trees that have to be peeled, as in cork tress, and trees that can be tapped as in maples and rubber, and the Lord God made them all.
There are people who are generous and people who are thrifty and people who keep things close to their chest and people who lay everything on the table, shy people and gregarious people, introverts and extroverts, heads that hold our brains and eyes and ears and nose and mouth, heads that can turn and think and nod, and the Lord God made them all.
There are sunsets and sunrises and cloud bursts and snow storms, there are stars that form galaxies like the Milky Way and stars that form pictures like the Big Dipper and Orion and the bear, clouds that are high and thin and big and puffy and clouds that predict weather and the Lord God made them all.
There are rocks that are shiny as in gold, sparkly as in granite, flat as in sandstone and rocks that can be made into metals and rocks that are precious and rocks that are as plain as day and unique rocks like Petosky stones and marble, and the Lord God made them all.
There are plants that are showy as in lady slippers and plants that make us itch as in nettles and poison ivy and plants that we eat and we can make into liquids that we drink, that make us feel good as in chamomile and comfry, and plants that remind us of certain seasons like cattails, plants that smell good and plants that make us sneeze, plants that are medicinal, plants that give us clothing and plants that annoy us, plants that can grow in water and those that can grow in arid land, and the Lord God made them all.
There are people who are smart and people who are creative and people who are differently abled and people who are kind hearted and people who are dour and people who are funny and people who seem odd to us, and the Lord God made them all.
There are insects that take from us - like mosquitoes and insects that give to us - like bees, loud insects like crickets and quiet insects such as mosquitoes and no-see-ums and the Lord God made them all.
There are people with two legs and people with one leg and people with no legs, legs that can walk and run and crawl and climb and jump and sit cross legged and legs that are stiff and legs that can kick for good and ill, people who can hear and people who can’t hear, people who can see and people who can’t see at all, bodies with skin that can heat and cool, sweat and protect organs, skin that can heal and die and create new life and the Lord God made them all.
There are things we can’t see like gravity and inertia and the elements of the periodic table, emotions like love and anger and surprise and joy and awe and happiness and anxiety and fearfulness and sadness and melancholy, and the Lord God made them all.
There is work: studying oceans and storekeepers and consultants and teachers and doctors, keepers of animals and plants and earth, jobs that combine our passions and our need to make money, and jobs where you can sing all day if you want - like farmers or a flag person on a construction crew in Canada, and the Lord God made them all.
And the One who made all these things, and so much more, who is sure and steadfast, forgiving and merciful, loving and caring, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, trustworthy and is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Lest we be here ‘till the cows come home, let us pray.
Lovely and Extravagant God, when we drink in the multitude of your blessings, we can better understand David’s words from Psalm 8: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of us, human beings that you care for us? You have made us a little lower than the angels and crowned us with glory and honor. You have made us rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under our feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. There is no amount of words to make an adequate response to such gifting and grace, except to respond as David ended that Psalm, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Lead us, this week, in the humble awareness of such blessing and rejoicing, and all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.