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Pentecost 19 -- Page 214, October 22, 2000

The Greatness of God

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)
Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

"Ask ye what great thing I know ... Jesus Christ, the crucified." Johann Schwedler inspired the church to sing its greatest gift, the precious knowledge of God. The Psalmist knows that above the awe inspiring forces of nature there is one who inspires the ultimate awe. All the suffering of Job is set aside, all the protestations, when he encounters the one who set the earth on its foundations. The author of the letter to the Hebrews proclaims Jesus to be the access to God not just for the few but for all who call on his name, not just for a stunning moment but for the daily service of the worshiping community. And finally, James and John, stare into the fathomless revelation, confronted by God who not only strides the heavens but empties himself in humble submission to his own creation.

In our race to do, we forget what we know. We forget the great thing that we know and then fail to do great things. If there is one single defect to the present age that will bring down the future, it is that we know no great thing. We, as a civilization, have no shared knowledge of greatness.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in his day knew a great thing. He knew Teddy Roosevelt. He knew a role model for president. He knew a future for this country and loved that future. His knowledge was informed by his faith. With this knowledge he transcended paralysis. With this knowledge he lifted our nation out of despair. With this knowledge he led us during the great war. Was he smarter than the rest? Was he more skillful than the rest? Did he work harder than the rest? Was he more worthy than the rest? I think he excelled his peers in that he knew a greatness beyond himself.

The good news is not that we know a God who will make us great but that we know a God who is great. Read the Psalm again. Expand on it images using our modern knowledge of nature, e.g. "Who moves the continents into their places and presses their edges into the sea..."

A little girl in Sunday School wrote this note to God:
Dear God,
Who draws the lines around the countries?

Like a child, our knowledge of God causes us to marvel at all that is beyond us. Practically everything is beyond us! What are we to the universe? Yet, we can know the creator of the universe and in knowing not be terrified but inspired. The Psalmist knows the overwhelming forces of nature and is not terrified but inspired. Job gets his meeting with God and is not killed but restored. In Jesus, our fear of being crushed from above is transformed into the assurance of being saved from above. The fear of living below is replaced by the experience of God below, below the heavens, below the human power structure, even below the whip. We are no longer afraid of "below" but inspired. Ask ye what great thing I know? I know God above and below.
Roland McGregor, Pastor
Asbury United Methodist Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

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