Sermon of the Week
Elements of Worship–God Calls Us
Keywords: Dentist, Job, God is God, Humility, Theodicy
To set the scene for today’s sermon,
I want to tell you about my dentist appointment this week.
I know the dentist makes some people cringe. I get it.
Even though we count a quite gifted, and gentle, dentist among our members,
for some, a trip to the dentist is something they least look forward to.
People feel that way about visits with a pastor sometimes, too.
I’ve always gotten along well with dentists, and hygienists.
I think it’s because I’ve never really had dental problems
unless you count having six wisdom teeth a problem.
Insert your favorite “he’s a wise-guy” joke here.
On Tuesday I went for my semi-annual check up
with my regular tooth cleaner
and she did her work and the dentist checked me out
and I went on my way.
All was fine.
Most of the dental appointment is spent chatting with the hygienist
or, to say it more accurately, to enjoy listening to her talk to me.
It’s not really possible to have an equal, give-and-take conversation when
she’s got all those tools in your mouth.
Over the years I’ve gotten to know quite a bit about her and her family–
she has a couple of boys, one in middle school and one high school now.
They’re about the age of our kids, so we can commiserate and celebrate
about a lot of the same things.
Sometimes, when she shares some of what’s going on with her older boy,
I can anticipate a bit about what our kids will go through soon.
I enjoy these conversations.
I like my hygienist.
She’s friendly and gentle and clearly tries to be a good parent
which has nothing to do with her cleaning skills
but makes chatting with her more comfortable.
On Tuesday, we were talking about what kids do during the summer,
when they don’t have the structure, or the stress, of school to contend with.
Her boys, for years, have gone away to camp in June.
Kids get a break from the parents. Parents get a break from the kids.
Win-win, she sees it.
Her younger boy went to camp this year as well.
She had hoped the older boy would go, too,
but it turns out that he wants to try out for JV soccer this year
and staying home to participate in the weekly kick-arounds
would be helpful for his prospects.
So, alas, no camp for him this year.
But she sees the summer like we do,
that it’s better for your kids to have things to do,
and since he’s old enough, they told him he’d have to get a job
if he decided not to spend the summer at camp.
So he got a job. He’s a lifeguard at a local pool.
It’s his first job: and he’s learning about schedules and getting there on time
and everything that goes with employment.
The older boy is fifteen and a half, so he has a restricted driver’s license
and he’s able to drive to and from the pool for work.
And they’re a three-car family, my hygienist told me
as she was working on my molars,
but two of those three are stick-shifts, alas,
and her son can’t drive a stick-shift.
So he drives her car, to and from work,
and she gets to drive the third one.
I didn’t get the impression that she is fond of this arrangement.
Last week, apparently, an indignity happened.
One of the other family cars broke down, and went to the shop.
So mom the hygienist got her car back
and the son had to ride his bike to and from the pool.
I didn’t catch how long that situation presented itself.
Maybe a day or two?
But it prompted her son to bring up the car to both parents
one evening at dinner.
So, when do we think I’ll get my car back?
Mom looked over at him:
I think you mean my car, don’t you son?
He looked back at her, without missing a beat:
I think, at best, we should say that it is our car, don’t you think Mom…
She laughed at that, to me, at any rate,
The hubris, the gall.
I think her response to him at the time
might have sounded more like our reading today from Job.
The kid didn’t even really help pay for gas
much less insurance and upkeep and car payments
or property taxes that help maintain the roads.
She didn’t mention it, but I wondered if you could add to that
a good car wash or even emptying out the back seat from time to time.
But you could tell that the conversation that night wasn’t all that pleasant
as they reminded their boy that just because he used that car
it wasn’t anything close to being his.
Who knows, maybe he rode his bike a few more times this week
just to drive the point home a little bit.
It has been a while since we’ve read from the Book of Job in worship.
Job is in a section of the Hebrew Scriptures called the Ketuvim
which translates, simply, as The Writings
eleven books that aren’t the musings of the Law, or the Torah
and aren’t the testimonies of the prophets, which are called the Nevi’im
The Ketuvim, or the writings, include works like Ruth, and Esther, the Song of Songs,
Lamentations and Ecclesiastes
as well as the Psalms and the Proverbs.
These are wisdom writings.
Narratives about faithful people.
Poems and songs and aphorisms about the good life following
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Job itself is a treatise on why people suffer
why people experience evil and hurt, and where is God in the middle of all of that. [Read more…]