Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: Official Complaints Against God - Part 1
Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday at 10:30am. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community. There will be more time for coffee, tea and conversation after the service in the Memorial Hall.
Saturday, October 13 - FALL FEST
Come to Scarboro from 11am - 3pm for a day of festivities:
Bake Sale & MORE
Cafe with Live Entertainment
Children's Clothing & Toy Swap and Sale
Loonie Toonie Carnival
Displays from various community partners
See the Special Events post below for all the details!
Friday, October 12 - Celebration of Life for Joanne Edie
The service will be at 1:00pm in the Sanctuary with a reception to follow in the Memorial Hall.
Message for October 14, 2018: Based on Job. 23.1-9,16-17 and Psalm 22
Rev. Erin Klassen
How many of us are familiar with the story of Job?
What do we know of it?
To be clear, this is not a historical account or a biography of a real person. This is an ancient folk tale of the middle east that explores whether or not we can keep our faith in times of hardship. It’s not a story we tell often in worship, because it’s a hard one to hear. It doesn’t have any easy answers.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why are there times when God feels so very far away?
In this story, Job is presented as such a good person, that God brags about him to Satan. Mindi Welton-Mitchell tells us that, Satan in this story is not the source of evil, but rather “the Accuser” whose job in the heavenly court is to show God that Job only is faithful because he gets something out of it. If he suffers, he’ll curse God, the Accuser wagers. God takes the bet. Job loses everything - his wealth, his children (3 daughters and 7 sons) and his health. He is faced with loss, grief and pain, to the point that his own wife tells him to just curse God and die, to get it over with, but Job refuses. In fact, he replies, “Only foolish people talk like that. If we accept happiness from God, we should also accept adversity” (2:10).
Job’s friends come to comfort him, and at first, they were wonderful. They did what loving friends do in times of crisis - they showed up, they sat with Job (in a literal garbage heap, no less) and were present with him, loving him. But then they opened their mouths…
Essentially, his friends attempt to justify away his pain. They quote Scripture (badly), and argue that God is just so Job must have done something wrong. They would say that they’re only trying to help, but the result is that they only continue to isolate him from God at the time when Job needs God the most. James C. Howell goes so far as to suggest that the book of Job dares to entertain the thought that a true friend will take your side against God.
It almost seems like Job’s friends are speaking like God is listening to what they are saying and they’re trying to curry favour with God rather than holding space for deep sorrow of their friend. “The problem of evil” Howell says, “ why bad things happen, isn’t an intellectual exercise for friends to solve for one another. Let the wound remain open. It needs the air, the space, instead of a blistering medicine of theological half-truths.”
This happens a lot.
Friends wanting to help, but also wanting to make themselves feel better, tell us what we neither need nor want to hear. Trite falsehoods that isolate us further -
“Everything happens for a reason”
“God needed another angel”
“God never gives us more than we can handle”
I’ve been in that place. I distinctly remember looking up to the sky and telling God, that whatever this situation was supposed to be preparing me for - I didn’t want. I was not interested in anything harder than that.
Or the one that I really struggled with at a time when I was struggling, when I couldn’t see the good, I couldn’t even see God.
“If God feels far away, who moved?”
Like it was my fault that I was sad and angry and frustrated, and so very alone.
This is what Job speaks of today as well.
He has a complaint, and rightfully so. He is bitter. This is also translated as rebellious, and that works too. How dare he speak out against God?
Well, he would if he could. But, as Job says,
If only I knew where to find the Almighty, so I could approach the Judgment Seat!
But if I go east, God isn’t there;
if I go west, I find nothing.
When God is working up north, I can see no one;
when God turns south, I don’t even catch a glimpse. (23:2, 8-9)
There’s actually a theological term for this: desolation.
That is, a state of complete emptiness or destruction, anguished misery or loneliness.
It is that feeling of being forsaken that our Psalmist describes.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me,
from the cry of my distress?
And describes so well - I want to trust you, but I can’t.
I am feeling like an outcast. People are cruel, mocking me.
My bones are out of joint.
My heart has melted like wax.
My mouth is dry.
There is so much power in naming that. I learned it once by accident.
But here’s the thing, whatever we are going through, whatever we are dealing with, or not. God can handle it. God is big enough to take that on, to show up and be present with us in our hour of agony.
We have that in this Psalm and the place that its words take us, which is to the foot of the cross.
At three, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk. 15:34, Matt. 27:46)
This is a God who joins in our suffering and pain. One who became human and walked with us on our journey.
Who experienced being an object of derision.
Being mocked “let God rescue you!”
Having life pour out like water.
His garments divided among themselves; lots cast for his clothing.
All of this is in our Psalm, and all of this was experienced by the one that we claim to follow.
So why not us?
We have a 6 year old in our house, so there is a common refrain of “That’s not fair!”
To which I often can only reply, “no, it’s not. Life isn’t fair.”
Or as Dan Moseley writes, “Life after all, is fair. Ultimately it breaks everybody’s heart.”
My favourite movie quote is from The Princess Bride.
Princess Buttercup has been kidnapped from her kidnappers, by the Dread Pirate Roberts, whom she believes to have killed her true love Westley. As she attempt to take him to task for this, he rebuffs her. She has had it with him and yells, “you mock my pain!” To which, he replies, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” (https://youtu.be/PP8R2tl71g4)
It seems incredibly bleak. But I assure you that it is not.
For we are not alone. Our Creed tells us that, our Scripture tells us that.
Job’s friends may not have done the best job, but they still showed up.
And when Jesus cried out, the women were there, they stayed with him through all of his suffering and were even there in his death, and his resurrection, ultimately becoming the first apostles.
Also, our presence here tells us that.
When Lee or I tell you that you are welcome here, we meant it.
However you are, whatever you are feeling - grief, frustration, joy, anger, sadness, confusion…
Not only that, we commit to bearing that with you.
The people sitting around you do too.
We do this every week, with our prayers, naming them before this group of people so that we can all pray together. We can grieve together, rage together, rejoice together, explore together.
If that isn’t church, I don’t know what is.
Lord, I am hurting.
I feel like a tree
with its roots laid bare.
Suddenly there seems to be no support
and I don’t know what to do about it.
I know that adversity builds character,
but that’s tomorrow’s story
and it has no meaning for now.
What I need, Lord, is a friend.
Choose my friend carefully.
Please, no one who’s going to tell me
how to put my life straight,
no amateur analyst or teacher,
no preacher, no well-meaning person
who is going to “should” all over me.
I want someone to come in the door
with a smile and a big warm hug
to let me know I’m valuable
just as I am.
There’ll be no advice,
no expectation of change.
My friend will already know
that pain is important in journey
and must be travelled through.
My friend will stay beside me
and hold my hand
while I make my own discoveries.
And then, when all this is over,
Lord help me to remember two things:
To say “Thank you,”
and to be a friend
with a big warm hug
to someone else in pain. Joy Cowley, Aotearoa Psalms (1995)
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