16 Pentecost C (Season of Creation: Ocean Sunday)—9/4/16
Job 38:1-18; Psalm 104; Ephesians 1:3-10; Luke 5:1-11
Pr. Scott Kramer
This past week’s Seattle Times reported that life on earth may have begun far earlier than we thought. Scientists in Greenland found a fossil that they believe is 3.7 billion years old, which is more than 200 million years older than the previous fossil evidence suggests.
Our readings for this first Sunday in the Season of Creation (Oceans) speak of ancient things. The psalmist (v.5) sings a song of praise to our Creator: You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
My wife and I were at dinner yesterday afternoon and across the street from the restaurant was a construction site, including a massive pile-driver whose purpose is to establish for that new building a firm, solid, reliable foundation.
Foundations are the key to a structure’s integrity. No one builds a permanent building without careful attention to its foundations. Apparently, the same is true for the foundations of the Earth. God paid close attention to foundations at the creation of the good Earth.
The mysteries of God’s creation are deep. The foundations of God’s creation are very deep. The story of Job is the story of a faithful servant of God who lost everything. In the Book of Job, Job and his companions speculate on the nature of God and ask that timeless human question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Today’s first reading is God’s response to the conversation of Job and his friends around this subject, and it feels less like comfort and reassurance than it does a punch in the stomach. The Creator asks Job, Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Have you entered the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
In the familiar story from Luke’s gospel Jesus notices that his fisherman friends are not having much luck catching fish. And Jesus says, Put out into the deep water. Deep water is dark, mysterious, and dangerous. And yet, that’s where Jesus invites his followers to go. “Take a risk and go out into deep waters!” What does deep water look like for you? Are you there now?
The mysteries of God’s creation are very deep. Human knowledge, apparently, can’t get at it and sometimes may even be a distraction. Knowledge, we find in scripture, can be a trap and a substitute for discipleship. But if human knowledge can’t answer the deepest questions of life, what can? What are the deepest foundations of God’s creation?
Our reading from Ephesians hints at one answer to that question, where the author writes: God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. To get at the deepest and surest foundations of God’s creation, we have to go back before human knowledge, before human history, even before the creation of the Earth. And there we find the foundation of all that is, which is…love. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth…” and “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” In the beginning, God is…love.
The deepest beginning, the surest foundation of God’s creation is love. The great challenge of our lives, dear friends, is following Jesus’ command to go into deep waters, even to where we may feel like we’re in over our heads. That is the nature of love—being in over our heads, where we need God, who is Love, to open our eyes, and order our priorities, to live as God intended.
God has big plans and has invited us through our Christian vocation to share in these plans. As the writer of Ephesians puts it: With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Jesus, the one who commands us to go into deep waters, equips us through his love to share in and continue his ministry of healing and reconciliation of the world God loves, until all things—all people and all creation—are one.