October 21, 2021

About United Congregational

Come to the About Us section to find out what we're all about!

Join Us!

If you're curious about what a truly nurturing community of believers is like, then you should come to the Join Us section to find out how you can get involved.

What is UCC?

Find out about the United Church of Christ and the history of this wonderful organization on our What is UCC page.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This months Website is 

sponsored by

Gregg & Deb Griewski

in Memory of

Gladys Oberlander-Karna & Donna Oberlander-Cory

Live Streaming is sponsored by

 Mike & Brenda Steiger

In Memory of Milton Steiger

If you would like to sponsor a month

contact the office.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

October 2021
S M T W T F S
26 27 28 29 30 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

Members Login



Soup & Pie Fundraiser

Please join our Youth Group on Valentine's day and enjoy a bowl of soup & a piece of pie along with fellowship!

Last week's Sermon

September 12, 2021

 

 

Job 38:1-7 (34-41) & Mark 10:35-45

“Life’s detours”

Our GPs said that our drive time from Blanding Utah to Capitol Reef National Park would be about three and a half hours. So far, our vacation travels had been pretty much trouble free other than a blow out on a camper tire that caused some anxiety. Other than that, our travels had been pretty smooth sailing. We hadn’t even run into much road construction which is usually associated with any summer and fall time distant traveling.


Five miles down the road we turned on to the road that would take us to the west towards Capitol Reef. Less than a quarter of a mile on that road we come to a barricade. Road closed. Bridge washed out. There were no detour signs. No suggestions on the shortest way to get around this obstacle. Looking at the map, the closest road would add at least another 70 miles and an hour onto our travel.


We went back to the little gas station at the intersection to see if there was another option. The gas station attendant looked at me, then looked at our car, looked back at me, back at the pop-up camper we were pulling, then back at me. Finally, she said, “I tell you what, five miles down the road there is a little dirt road that will take you just around the bridge that is washed out. If you want to try it, I think with your car and the camper you are pulling, you can make it. The road is rough and curvy. You won’t be able to go very fast, but it will be shorter. I think you can make it. If you want to try it, you will find the road by a set of empty corrals on the righthand side of the highway.”


Not knowing what the road had in store for us or where exactly would we would end up, we set off to find our detour road.


Prior to our Old Testament reading today, Job had been traveling along quite nicely on life’s journey, thank you very much. Job was very wealthy. He was blessed with several children. Unfortunately, they partied a little too much, but Job would take care of that by doing penitence for them. Job was a righteous man who was faithful to God. The road for Job was smooth and free of obstacles, and things were going along on cruise control.


And then there came more than just a bump in the road. This was a total washout. Job lost everything …his property …his wealth …his children …even his health. Job, understandably is in shock. He is confused. He is angry. He is grieving. He just doesn’t understand. He is a nice guy. He is faithful to God. Why does it feel like now he is being punished? For twenty-nine chapters, Job and his three friends debate and argue the issue of why “bad things happen to good people?”


Job, for his part gets brave enough to demand to have a hearing with God. He desires to question God. But God is silent. Throughout all of this debating and arguing between the four of them, God does not say a word. There is no rebuttal on God’s part for each of the arguments. There is no defense on God’s part. The arguments …the accusations …the pleadings are only met with silence. After Job has exhausted all of his arguments and falls silent, a man by the name of Elihu steps in and seems to try to speak for and defend God. God, however, remains silent.


Finally, after thirty-six chapters of silence, God speaks. And it is a dramatic scene. Our Bible says that God answered out of a whirlwind. It was probably more like a violent storm. From this violent storm, we hear the voice of God speak the challenge to Job and really to all of us. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”   Reading these two verses, I get the image from the animated Disney movie Aladdin when they first encounter the Cave of Wonders. There is a whirlwind and a beast that looks like a huge panther rises out of the dark desert. The beast speaks in a deep rumbling voice, “Who dares to awaken my slumber?”


In many ways, Job’s arguments against God are that he is asleep at the wheel. The suffering and chaos in the world are evidence that God is not doing a very good job of running his creation. With God’s silence in the midst of Job’s demands, it just gives further evidence that God is asleep or God just doesn’t care. Finally, God speaks. God answers Job’s challenge with God’s own challenge. “Gird up your loins like a man. Pull up your big boy pants. It is your turn to answer my questions. That is, if you can.”


Through God’s questions to Job, God lays out God’s credentials. God pretty much accomplishes two things. God’s questioning of Job highlights Job’s limited human knowledge and capacity of understanding in contrast with God’s divine wisdom. God’s questioning also creates a very vivid pictorial image of the cosmos …its planning and design. The cosmos did not just come together through happen stance or was not just hurriedly thrown together. There was a purpose and plan for the design. Measurements were taken. Foundations were laid for stability. Every aspect of creation was carefully thought through and put in place as determined by God’s wisdom …everything.


Our twenty-first century perspective misses something that would not have been missed in the time that the story of Job was first shared and written. Through God’s questions to Job, God admits that even chaos was part of God’s design from the beginning. The four verses following verse seven reads:


Job 38:8-11  8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?-- 9 when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, 11 and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped'?


The sea was a traditional ancient symbol for chaos and very prevalent in the creation account. The creation account records that God was present in the chaos and help to bring order and light out of chaos and darkness. In the Job account, God goes so far as to acknowledge that chaos was a part of the creation plan. There is the image of the birthing process with water breaking forth in uncertainty tempered with the image of the comfort of being wrapped swaddling bands.


Chaos and uncertainty are part of the creation process. From chaos and uncertainty comes the potential for new birth …the growth of something better. There is always the offer of the comforting presence of God in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty. The sea …the chaos has been shut in. It can go this far and no further. God has put limits to amount of chaos and uncertainty. They are never beyond God’s control.


We live in a world or at least a society that has a strong understanding and belief in rewards and punishments. You do what is right and you will be rewarded. Good things will happen for you. You do what is wrong, you will be punished. That is why the story of Job, both fascinates us and is so relatable. With our world understanding or at least our understanding of how the world should be, Job should not have had to suffer the way that he did. It is just not right. Job was a righteous man. And yet, we can relate to the story of Job because we too wonder why we have to suffer, many times unjustly. We ask the same questions as Job. We reason much the same way as Job and his friends. We experience the silence and alienation of God. We wonder, does God really care?


Today, through the story of Job, God speaks. God reminds us that Divine wisdom far exceeds human understanding. We can never speak for God. Our limited human understanding cannot even scratch the surface of God’s wisdom. We have witness to that awesomeness in God’s creation. God also reminds us that chaos and suffering are a part of God’s Divine plan and design. But God has also put limits on the chaos and suffering. God also promises to be with us in our chaos and suffering, wrapping God’s arms around us, comforting us with God’s loving presence. It is in the chaos and suffering that we have the opportunity to experience God’s presence more intimately.


We found our detour road about five miles down the road just like we were told. The road began with gravel, but it quickly gave way to dirt. We began on the top where it was flat, but we soon found ourselves going down into a deep canyon. It was curvy. It was rough. Most of the way we were going 15 to 20 MPH …sometimes slower. I have to admit that there were times I had my doubts. I was wondering where we would come out or even if this was a smart choice. And yet, even in the slow process …even in the roughness …even in the doubts and questions, we could not help but be in awe in the awesome rugged beauty of God’s creation that surrounded us. It was a part of the country that we would not have seen or experience had we not had that detour. Even as much as was in awe of the experience, I have to admit that I was glad when we finally got back on the highway.


All of us have a vision of what our lives will be like when we set out on our lives’ journeys. Unfortunately, we all soon realize that there are usually several detours along the way. Chaos, suffering and uncertainty disrupt our lives taking our lives in directions we never imagined nor wanted. We question. We doubt. We even demand an explanation from God. God does not promise an easy road through our lives’ journeys. Quite the opposite if we are committed to following Jesus as our Gospel reading reminds the disciples and us.


What God does promise is God’s presence in all of life, even the chaos, suffering, and uncertainty. God offers the comfort that God knows and experiences our pain with us. God offers guidance through those difficult times. If we seek God, we will find that those times of chaos, suffering, and uncertainty offer a time of rebirth. Those unexpected detours in life offer us a time for our faith to grow if we will turn our trust to God. And sometimes …sometimes we will find that it is in the detours of life where we experience God the most closely. Amen.