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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:  


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.


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,







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;


If you’re looking for Jesus…

Look around you.



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

  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


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