Sermon: Streams of Questions



Morning Prayer, August 28, 2020

St. Luke’s Virtual Chapel, Berkeley Divinity School

One thing I’m not going to do in this 4 minute sermon is a trinitarian explanation of “for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified”. The gospel of John seems to put in these little explanations that raise more questions than they answer. What questions are we asking? What answers are we seeking? Job seems to be resigned to a “shut up and take it” approach to his questions. “Why me?” “I’m innocent! What kind of divine justice convicts and sentences the innocent? But how can a mortal even approach God to ask something like that? God is *so* much bigger that such a question is not just irrelevant, but incomprehensible”….but the questions are still there. And Job is going to spend a several more morning prayers trying to answer these questions of his heart.

Humanity always seems to be asking things that can’t be satisfied. Why does Job’s tragedy not seem to correlate with his morality? Why am I sad at a stillbirth *and* at the death of a grandparent? Why doesn’t everyone else see what is so clearly right and just? Why am I never satisfied with the answers I find to these questions?

Jesus said, more than that, Jesus cried out, wanting people to hear: “let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” That thirst, those questions, that thing we are always seeking? Jesus turns that search into a flowing spring. Our thirst is satisfied.

That doesn’t mean we have all the answers and we have to stop asking questions. Nicodemus shows us that. He was skeptical. Maybe baffled. By Jesus. “You don’t really mean born again, physically, do you?” He asked in chapter 3. And here, he asks a rhetorical question to his colleagues. He proposes that they might want to ask Jesus some questions themselves. What the temple authorities don’t realize is that they are trying to do the same thing Job was trying to avoid: putting God on trial, calling God’s justice into question. Job was humble enough to realize that he couldn’t bring a lawsuit against God, if only because it was God’s courtroom.

What do we do when the world’s justice is unsatisfactory? What do we do when *God’s* justice seems unsatisfactory? What do we do when we thirst for justice, for mercy, for answers? Jesus promises to satisfy our thirst. But not with just a water bottle of an answer tied up neatly. Jesus promises streams of living, flowing, water. My prayer for this new school year is that we are not afraid of asking questions like Job was, that we are not asking questions in bad faith like the temple authorities, and that we are not satisfied in our questions until living water flows from our hearts.

I’ll end with the final verse of today’s psalm, 17:16
But at my vindication, I shall see your face;*
When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

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