Skip to main content

Final Sermon at St. James': "God is Terrible at Hide and Seek"


Final Sermon: God is Terrible at Hide and Seek

The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
St. James’ Episcopal Church
August 19, 2012

I’ve been with you for fourteen years, and in all those years, I’ve preached a lot of sermons. In fact – I asked Kay Gregg to go back through the parish register and check  the exact number –I have preached here at St. James’ 3,087 times.

And in all those sermons, I’ve only really been trying to make three points:  

One:

There’s a God-shaped hole inside each of us that only God can fill, and 99% of human trouble, loneliness, and unhappiness comes from trying to fill our God-shaped hole with something or someone other than God.

Two:

If we can follow the First Commandment, the other nine come easily, and the first commandment starts out not with a prohibition, but a reminder, a reminder that God is a god of freedom: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  God seeks to free us from whatever enslaves us, and the God who created us knows us well and knows what enslaves us, so the commandments against lying, cheating, stealing, working seven days a week, and
otherwise worshipping ourselves and other small-g-gods instead of the Lord God,  are not restrictions on our freedom, they actually make true freedom possible.

Which brings me to my third point:

Our liberation – our liberation from selfish individualism, the false god that says “I am the center of the universe” and our liberation from the false gods of consumerism and materialism, the false gods that say “I am what I produce, or do, or buy” – our liberation is bound up in the liberation of the poor, and we transform our lives by being good news to the poor.

And so, let me wrap up those three points by saying this:  

If you’re looking for God, you’re in luck, because God likes to be found.

God is good at a lot of things, but God is absolutely terrible at “hide and seek.”

(You ever try to play hide and seek with a little kid who didn’t get the game, and they just stand there out in the open, like they want to be found, or when they do think to hide, and you say “gee, where are you?” instead of being quiet they say, “I’m over here!”)

Well, God is like that.

[As the Eucharistic prayer reminds us] God doesn’t hide; God makes his goodness and love known:

In creation, God is saying, “I’m over here!”

In the calling of Israel to be God’s people: God is saying “I’m here!”  

In God’s word, spoken through the prophets,

and above all, in God’s Word made flesh, God makes his goodness and love known – in Jesus, God’s son…

In Jesus, God said, God says: “I’m here.”

Are you looking for God?

Look for Jesus.

Are you looking for Jesus?

He can be found in word and sacrament (in daily Bible reading and prayer…at the altar, in the bread and wine) – he is saying “I’m here!”

And  in the Gospel we heard today, where did Jesus tell us he could be found?

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Are you looking for God?

Look for Jesus.

Are you looking for Jesus?

·         In the hungry clientele of Interfaith relief, and Grace to Go and Backpack Buddies, Jesus is saying, “here I am”

·         In the thirsty Honduran villages and New Orleans parishes , Jesus is saying “here I am.”

·         In the stranger at coffee hour, your cul-de-sac, office or school hallway, Jesus is waiting to be welcomed.

·         Jesus receives your extra coat each Palm Sunday after our coat drives.

·         Jesus is in the eyes of the physically and the mentally ill, saying, “here I am.”

·         In prison, and in the forgotten families of the incarcerated – Jesus is saying, “here I am.”

Are you looking for God?

Look for Jesus.

Are you looking for Jesus?

Jesus is the Body of Christ, the people of God:

Our God reveals himself as the body of Christ, the church:

You and, me, all of us:

In imperfect,

flawed,

sinful,

hypocritical,

wonderful,

giving,

forgiving

generous humanity,

In you, this wonderful faith community, God is saying, “I’m here.”  

And so, one last time:

·         There’s a God-shaped hole in each of us only God can fill;
·         God is a god of freedom;
·         We transform our lives by being good news to the poor;

and

If you’re looking for Jesus…

Look around you.


--##--

Comments

  1. Very powerful. Thanks for posting so others can see :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Father John, as always you write and say very profound things in such a way that makes them easy to understand. Thank you for all you have done to help me see what I did not see before and to understand what I really did not understand before. You have helped me on my Faith Journey.

    Tony Fasolo

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments encouraged. In the interest of responsible dialog, those commenting must sign with their full name. To prove you're a human and not a spam-bot, I've had to include a word verification step...sorry about that.

Popular posts from this blog

Let's Unpack One Trump Tweet on Refugees

No one can  -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.

No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.

But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal. 

Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this: 



“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” 

Let's unpack: 

"What is our country coming to..." 
Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…

The Beatitudes, Lady Liberty, and Refugees

A sermon preached January 29, 2017
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…

Irresponsible to be Silent

A sermon preached June 19, 2016 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…