Act of Worship at Home
Reading Job 38:1-7, 34-41
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
‘Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, “Here we are”? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?
‘Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?
After all the crying and sighing, moaning and groaning of Job (and after all he’s been through I don’t blame him for it); after all the blaming and shaming, sharing and tearing of his ‘miserable comforters’: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind”.
In just the same way that Jesus answered questions with his own questions God replies to Job’s complaints with a series of sixty questions of his own. This is not in order for God to accuse or condemn Job: Job has already been judged to be a righteous person, and this is confirmed in the final testimony of God after all Job’s questionings will, Job is indeed righteous.
And God doesn’t condemn or judge us when we have questions. Amid all our confusions of life, God is not lurking in the wings waiting to condemn us: instead, he is waiting at the gate, inviting us to take a walk with him in the garden. So, any measure of rebuke in the words “Who is this?”; “Where were you?”; “Can you…?”, etc., is softened as we learn more of God in this grand tour by God of his majesty and mystery. So, God seems to say, get ready, and listen to my questions, and see if you can answer them.
I can remember as a child going for long family walks in the countryside and my father who would point out and name the plants and animals as we passed by. I remember family holidays in Scotland and here in Devon having the beauty of the hills and mountains, the sea – the trees even – pointed out to us as we drove through beautiful scenery. But I wonder how often I thought, ‘the Lord God made them all’?
God reminds Job by asking him “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”. Perhaps the same question to us will put into perspective our own confusion and silences our complaints. It humbles us, making us to stand in awe: for ‘He has done all things well’ (Mark 7:37).
God asks Job who set the limits of the sea, “Here your proud waves must stop” tells us that those limits were set from the creation of the earth: but also, in the scientifically observable reality of an eroding coastline, its times were set as well. Not only are all things created by God, but they are also temporally upheld, kept, sustained, by God.
God keeps the questions coming.
More and more questions about the activity of God in creation and in people lives.
In the face of so many unanswerable questions about the nature of God Job twice admitted in dumb-struck silence that he had no answer for God.
It is a simple but profound reminder that, in the words of the children’s hymn, “Our God is a great big God”, greater than we can begin to imagine and worthy of worship and praise.
Thank you, Lord, for the wonder of your Creation; for your patience with us; for not condemning us; and for accepting us as we are in Christ Jesus. Please help us to hold on to our relationship with you no matter what befalls us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Time of Prayer
Magnificent maker of the universe, we praise and thank you for your great gift to us in creation.
We give thanks for the great and glorious earth, a home for us all, and we pray for all whose job is to ensure that the earth is safe; for ecologists, climate experts, energy scientists, and for ourselves and the little bit we can do.
We magnify your holy name.
Magnificent maker of the universe, we thank you for all that we learn by the observation of creation.
We pray for those working to understand the universe and its origins, for astronomers and astronauts and physicists; for theologians, especially those working in the field of theology and science. We pray for those who reject a dialogue with theology and embrace new atheisms.
We magnify your holy name.
Magnificent maker of the universe, we thank you for all that the earth offers us, and we pray for those
who work close to the earth: farmers and gardeners, miners, oil drillers and engineers. Keep them safe in their dangerous pursuits and help us to treasure all that they provide for us.
We magnify your holy name.
Magnificent maker of the universe, fill our minds with wonder and our spirits with awe, that we may tread lightly on this earth that you have given us.
We magnify your holy name. Amen.
O worship the King, all glorious above;
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the ancient of days,
pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.
O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
his chariots of wrath the deep thunder-clouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.
O measureless might, ineffable love,
while angels delight to hymn thee above,
the humbler creation shall struggle to raise
with true adoration their songs to thy praise.
To the needy and the hurting we go. The world is waiting.
To the joyful and the delighted we go. The world is waiting.
To problems and solutions we go. The world is waiting. Send us out with your blessing and renewed by your vision. The world is waiting. Amen