Sunshine Cathedral MCC

God Must Be Bowling Today

Preached by the Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford at the Sunshine Cathedral on Sunday, September 17, 2006.

The Confessed Word

The grace of our Master Teacher — the love of God in the unity of Spirit — be with you all.

Creator of all there is, we thank you for this beautiful planet we call Earth. In your love you have given us the power to behold the beauty of Your world, robed in all its splendor. All of nature reveals your loving presence. You gave us a place to call home, where food is abundant and there is plenty to share.

Yet, we fail to be good stewards of preserving Your world. Lord have mercy.

We forget that in everything there is, there you are. Christ have mercy.

We are caught in the trap of narrow thinking; failing to nurture all of life. Lord have mercy.

Spirit of Love, forgive us when we do not respect the divinity that is present in all of life. Help us to be better guardians of Your world and to respect life in all of its diversity. We ask this in the name of the One who loves us best, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

The Written Word

The Light of Affirmation

The Phoenix Affirmations

The Path of Jesus is found where Christ’s followers act as caring stewards of the earth, and where the presence of the living Christ is celebrated wherever Christ’s spirit manifests itself, transcending all preconceived human categories.

The Light of the Early Church

Acts 17:24-28

24This God made the world and everything in it. This God is present in heaven and earth, and isn’t confined to temples built by human hands. 25The Divine doesn’t need help from anyone but gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. 26From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and decided when and where every nation would be.

27God has done all this, so that we will look for Divinity and reach out and find It. God isn’t far from any of us. 28God gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. “We are children of the Eternal,” just as some of your poets have said. The Light of the Master Teacher

The Light of the Master Teacher

John 3:8

8”Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.”

The Proclaimed Word

I don’t know how anyone can follow that great Christmas hit: “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.” I won’t even try to compete!

Yesterday I was sitting in my office getting my mind and spirit ready for today’s services, when—all of a sudden—a crack of lightning hit the ground outside, shutting down the electricity for just long enough to disconnect me from the church’s website.

It made me think of an expression we used as kids, when the thunder and lightning was crashing around us: “Sounds like God is bowling up there!”

Speaking of bowling, I’m reminded of the little Anita who wrote a letter to God, saying, “Dear God: Is it true my father won’t get in Heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?”

Lucy wrote, “Dear God: Are you really invisible or is it just a trick?”

Larry wrote, “Dear God: Maybe Cain and Abel wouldn’t kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.”

But back to bowling, and God bowling in the sky. Can you imagine what the ancients thought when storms came rolling down the mountainside, with a background of lightning and horrendous thunder?

The Apaches told stories about their thunder God that lived deep in all mountains. According to some the Superstition Mountains of Central Arizona is the home of the Apache Thunder God.

The early Israelites wouldn’t have been too surprised. In Exodus 19:16 we read: “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on mount [Sinai], and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God.”

In fact one of the names for God, according to the scholar W. F. Albright, was Shaddai or “mountain dweller”, coming from Akkadian, the language of ancient Mesopotamia. An interesting alternative that Albright offers involves the use of the Hebrew word shadayim which means breasts in Hebrew. He suggests that it may be connected to the idea of God’s fertility and blessings of the human race. In fact, the Bible does say: “May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers…” Another scripture is even more specific: “By the Almighty [El Shaddai] who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts [shadayim] and of the womb [racham]”                    Genesis 28:3; 49:25

So what does all this have to do with us today? I believe it helps us understand how very early humans saw God and helps us draw a clear picture of God for ourselves today.

The ancients saw God as inhabiting all of the Creation. Sometimes they were specific in where they thought God dwelt, but mostly they thought in word-pictures, which we call metaphors today.

In other words, today we can say: “There’s not a spot where God is not.” Our affirmation today says, “Celebrating the God whose Spirit pervades and whose glory is reflected in all of God’s Creation…”

Lest we be accused of being pantheists, saying “All is God,” we can rejoice in being panentheists, saying “God is all, and more!”

Is God a fertility God? God is far more. God is the energy that blossoms in every living thing, bringing vitality to all of the Created Order, and bringing creativity to every creative activity known to humanity. We can rejoice that God is everywhere present, in all there is, including every human being who ever lived, who ever will live, and who is alive this very moment, from Indiana to Iraq, from Arizona to Afghanistan, from Kentucky to Korea, from Illinois to Israel.

So?

If that’s the case, how can we love anyone or anything less than we love God? We are told by the writer of John’s epistles: “We love God because God first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but holds hatred in their heart toward another, how can this be? It’s not the Truth, it’s a Lie! How could someone hate a brother or sister —someone right in front of our eyes—and then claim to love God—who can only be seen by the eye of faith? This is the core Truth of Divine Principle: To love God is to love your brother and sister.”          1 John 4:19-21

To love God is to love all of God’s creation, everyone and everything. That includes the very planet on which we live. We have a responsibility to act lovingly toward our ecosystem. Were we to all do this there would be no argument about planetary warming and its disastrous effects on the lives of those who follow us. We would be doing everything to make our home healthy and happy for ourselves and for future generations of humans, animals, plant-life, our oceans, lakes, rivers and the very earth on which we stand.

James Watt is quoted as having said, “We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.” This of course was not the James Watt of the 16th Century, whose work with the steam engine brought on the Industrial Revolution. This was James Watt, the Secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Reagan. His motto? “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”

He was not a friend of environ-mentalists, but today they often look back on his policies as being far more kind to the environment than those of today’s policy-makers. What can we do to make a difference, in spite of governmental lack of concern? I believe we are called to do everything we can to protect our environment, both on a national and global level and on a personal level.

American farmer, novelist and poet Wendell Barry says: “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

And what about humanity? –Author Ryunosuke Satoro says, “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” Could you imagine what this ocean could do if we really loved one another as God loves us? Remember what Jesus said: “God loved the world so much…”                        John 3:16

When we learn to love our world as well as everyone and everything on it, our prayer will be answered: “thy kingdom come.”

There’s one more area of concern that will bring healing to our world: self-love. Psychiatrist Karl Augustus Menninger said, “Self-love is not opposed to the love of other people. You cannot really love yourself and do yourself a favor without doing people a favor, and vise versa.”

It is only when we love ourselves enough to change our thoughts, our words and our actions that we will make a difference in this world. Only then will our planet be healed and all humanity embraced in God’s love.

The writer of John’s epistle stated it so clearly: “Not to experience love is not to know God. How could it be otherwise, if God is love?”              1 John 4:8

Even when God is bowling in the heavens and the storms of life are raging, we can only love God by loving our planet-home, loving others and loving ourselves. And that’s the truth!

The Affirming Word

God is love…

Love flowing in me…

Bringing health and vitality…

Abundance and goodness.

I love my neighbor…

I love my planet home…

I love myself…

…and I like it like that!

And so it is! Amen!