Preacher: Rev. Dennis Howard
Life is an uncertain thing.
We have no idea how long our life will be.
We are very uncertain about what tomorrow holds.
Will we see health and happiness or tragedy and sorrow?
Uncertainty in uncertain times.
Gross uncertainty in these COVID times.
Will we catch this nasty virus, get sick and die?
Will we lose loved ones to this pandemic?
Will our lives ever be the same if this virus ever subsides?
When will our economy come back?
What about all this talk of racial divisions and inequity?
Will this wound to our culture and communities ever be healed?
What about the pending crisis of human sexuality in our faith community?
Which way will our denomination go on this issue and how will that affect my church home?
Will I still have something that feels like a church home when the dust settles on this issue?
Lots and lots of uncertainty.
As I write this sermon it is not even certain that I will be able to preach it this Sunday in our church.
It may well be that we will need to continue with on-line worship for the coming weeks and months.
What effect will this have on the long-term viability of our worshiping community here at LPC?
Everything seems so uncertain today.
Putting it mildly, all this uncertainty is trying.
Not knowing causes anxiety.
That anxiety morphs into fear.
Gnawing fear festers into hatred and mistrust.
We feel like people lost at sea.
We begin to question our institutions.
Our forms of governance, that we have always turned to for protection, are no longer trusted and social instability ensues.
Uncertainty becomes personal and we begin to question the ways we have learned to see the world.
Yesterday’s simple understandings of the way the world works no longer seem to fit.
Yesterday’s solutions to our problems no longer seem capable of addressing the uncertainties of today.
Our old solutions are no longer effective in solving our new problems.
Where do we turn to deal with the uncertainties of today?
Surely, we can teach and learn our way into a more reliable future.
Surely, we can teach and learn the new solutions we need to develop for today’s emerging uncertainties.
Sadly though the track record of education shows that it is not up to the task.
Since the Enlightenment people have turned to and placed their trust in the idea that humankind can reason its way to a brighter more certain future.
Beginning in the 17th century the enlightenment held the hope 0 that through higher learning 0 all the difficulties of human life, like warfare, poverty, religious intolerance could become problems of the past.
We all know how that has worked out.
More people perished from warfare in the 20th century than ever before in history.
Poverty is rampant in the world even though economists tell us the world has ample resources to go around.
As for religious intolerance it still drives many of the world’s conflicts.
A prime example of the failure of education to solve our problems is the nation to our south.
The most powerful, the wealthiest, and therefore you could argue the best educated country in the world, also boasts the world’s worst record when it comes to learning how to deal with the COVID crisis.
So, probably not the wisest thing to do, trusting in education to resolve the issues that persist in making our futures’ uncertain.
What about science?
Well science too is a child of the Enlightenment.
It seems it is easy, and in some quarters preferable, to ignore the idea of using science to develop social policies in order to reduce the uncertainty in our lives.
So, if people refuse to listen to what science says, it too is useless to us in resolving the existential questions of life.
Well then what about simply trusting in humanity, in our basic goodness?
Will that philosophy carry us into a more certain future?
If we look at our track record from the Garden, through Cain and Able and on up to our present times, no one can seriously offer the inherent goodness of our humanity as the solution to our present days of profound uncertainty.
To what then shall we turn? How about religion?
Religion should do it.
Following strictures on behaviour.
Trusting in a Higher Power.
Seeing this life as a passing chimera, as something to be endured until we get to nirvana or some other place of refuge open only to those who hold the right beliefs or have access to special knowledge.
Surely religion will give us the certainty we need to make it through our days on earth living in blissful peace and happiness.
Uhm, no not really.
Human religions, our insistence on using our religious understanding as a tool of division, as a delineator of who is in and who is out, is at the root of more murder and mayhem than any other form of human endeavor I can think of.
So, religion as a source of stability, as a cure to uncertainty?
Not so much.
Well, as Paul said to us last week, after reviewing the humanly experienced uncertainty of the problem of our flesh warring against our spirit.
The only answer to this and all human uncertainty is Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen again for the salvation of our souls and the resurrection of our bodies to the life eternal.
Certainty in life is not found in world religions, which are nothing more than human constructs.
Certainty in life is not found through ever deeper learning.
Certainty in life is not found in the bottom of a test tube.
Certainty in life is only found through the supernatural intervention of God in the lives of we humans whom God created whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not.
And that supernatural intervention of God in the life of humans takes the form of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of the God, who Christians know as the Father.
Contrary to popular belief, Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life.
No one can know the Father, the Creator God, except through the Son who gives them the power to do so through the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, their hope of glory.
Would you like to know the Father?
Then ask the Son into your life.
And it is a certainty that you will be swept up into the life of the Christ.
Your life will never be the same.
Peace with the Father will be yours.
You will be safe in your saviour’s arms, all condemnation will cease.
Of that you may be certain.