Plymouth United Church of Christ

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I was invited to preach at the evening service at Matsuyama Kyokai (the Japanese words for "church") in Matsuyama, Japan, on September 9, 2012. The sound file includes my sermon in both English (by me) and the Japanese translation by Rev. Yuki YAMAMOTO. I worshiped with them in the morning worship service, after which they had a lunch to celebrate all the church members 80 years and older. I mention this because in the sermon I make short reference to the celebration, and Rev. Kamayashi-Sensei's sermon which included some talk about people in the winter of their lives, which mentions might otherwise seem oddly placed if you did not know the context of the morning worship.

"God of the Small"
(based on sermon from Sept 6, 2009, which was based on a sermon from Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 24, 2000)
Rev. David J. Huber
Matsuyama Kyokai (Church), in Matsuyama, Japan
September 9, 2012, evening worship
Rev. Yuki Yamamoto, translator

God is God of the small.

Because for God, the big is small, and the small is big. Jesus said, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first."

God of the small is to be God of the hungry and the thirsty. God of the sick and lonely. God of our children who just entered the spring of their lives, and those of you well into the winter of your years, who maybe society thinks have nothing left to offer, but who are precious to God, with a very holy vocation of teaching us how to live.

And remember that God, mighty God, came to us as a vulnerable baby boy.

The writer of Revelation says that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end.

To be God of the small is to be God of everything, because in this universe, God's creation, even galaxies are very, very small.

And yet, from the beginning of time (and maybe even before then), until the end of time (and maybe even longer than that), God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is present.

Which is a way of being beyond our comprehension. Beyond mine, anyway.

And if science offers us an accurate picture of reality, which I absolutely believe it does, time began at the Big Bang and has ticked steadily on for billions of years.

Now, first, a confession: I was first an engineer, physics lover, math guy. So this next section is a view of God through the lens of astrophysics and statistics, languages that I think we don't use enough in the church, but that is an argument for another time.

If you want to know what it means, in our limited understanding, to be God of everything, let's look at what happens in just the time we spend here in an hour of worship.

In this hour, our sun will fuse 2,500,000,000,000 (2.5 trillion) tons of hydrogen into helium. In that hour, we will pump 3,200,000 million barrels of oil. We would have to pump oil at that rate for 13,500,000 years to equal the energy given off by our sun this hour.

And our sun is just one of billions and billions, doing the same thing, every second, for billions of years.

We are small in power.

By the end of this time of worship, the world will have added 15,000 new babies, and 6,200 people will have died. 186 of them will die from AIDS, 110 from malaria.

We are small because we are one of many, and we die.

In this hour:
the moon's gravitational pull will slow the earth's daily rotation by about 2 trillionths of a second (0.000000000002 sec).
This sanctuary will spin on the Earth's axis about 1300 km;
The earth will move about 106,000 km in its orbit;
our solar system will move about 750,000 km around the galactic center;
and our galaxy will move about 1,100,000 km with its galactic cluster.
And even though it flies through space at 1,100,000 km an hour, we will not run into our neighbor, Andromeda, for 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) years.
The Milky Way is about 100,000 light years wide - 600,000,000,000,000,000 (600 million billion) km.
I don't comprehend these numbers either, don't worry.
Our galaxy is in a local group of 30 galaxies, 56,000,000,000,000,000,000 (56,000 million billion) kilometers wide.
Our Local Group is on the outer edge of the Virgo Supercluster, which is 620,000,000,000,000,000,000 (620,000 million billion) km wide.
That's pretty big - that's 110,000,000 (110 million) light years.

But, an irrelevant distance - It is not even 1% of the known universe, Which is about 9,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 (9.3 million million billion) kilometers.

We are small in size.

And yet God of the Small is fully present and aware, in every millimeter of that universe. God found time to create us uniquely, and to know us by name.

And even when we do nothing, the world goes on. Stuff is always happening, here in Matsuyama and in the whole of the universe. And Jesus watches over all of it.

In this hour or worship:
4 species will become extinct on our planet.
3,800 acres of rainforest will be destroyed,
about 100 lions will score a kill in Africa,
and Coca-Cola will make about 2,000,000 cases of Coke.

And more than 16 million people will celebrate their birthday today. And we celebrated some here earlier today.

And where is God in all of this that is going on? Sitting here! Sitting here with us. God knows all that happens. Every hair that is on our heads, every feather on the birds, every grain of sand. Earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, and droughts. Even on this pale blue dot that is earth, in the middle of nowhere, all felt deeply by God. And God is also present when we feel deeply for our suffering neighbors, as we in the US have felt your suffering this past year and have prayed for Japan, you feel the suffering that we are going through with our drought in the United States. That is also God caring for the small. Jesus chose small people - his disciples, and then us - to be his hands and heart.

And so I leave you with greetings from the good people of my home congregation, Plymouth United Church of Christ, they have been praying for Japan and for this congregation, because we are united as Christ's body. Our communion tables are thousands of miles apart, but they are the same table. We are a small people on a small planet, and we are all in this together, doing the mighty work of God who is God especially of the small, in whose eyes we are not small but are incredibly important ande loved.

And that is Good News that is absolutely worth sharing! Amen.

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