Dear friends,

We do not have all the answers. This is not a very rousing statement. If we put it on the opening page of our webpage, it would not draw lots of people. If I said, “Come to Messiah and worship with us, because we remind ourselves we do not have all the answers,” well, it might be tweeted as a curiosity, but it would probably mean we would have fewer people visit our church.

Deep down, we want to have all the answers. If we are conscious that we do not have all the answers, then we want to be connected with someone, some group, some movement who do seem to have all the answers. Isn’t that why we would instinctively feel uncomfortable if the opening words to our web page said, “We do not have all the answers and never will”. I think our desire to have all the answers comes from two sources. Ever since the “Enlightenment” our culture has believed that through reason, science and technique, it is possible to know the answer to all questions. Even if many in our culture now reject elements of the “Enlightenment”, that enlightenment project of knowledge continues, only in the form of intuition, “non-traditional knowledge”, spirituality, and social and political utopian commitments.

The other reason we desire to have all the answers – the truest and deepest explanation – is found in Genesis 3. We as a species, and you and I as individuals, want to be god. Only a god, we believe, can possibly have all the answers. Actually, mythology shows that a god does not have all the answers. So what we really desire, is to be God, who alone knows all things. The problem is that God does exist and because He does exist, no gods exist and you and I will never be god. No person, movement, or institution will ever have all the answers.

A true sign of our falleness, and that we cannot save ourselves, but need God to save us, is that we feel some sense of disappointment when told that we do not have all the answers.

I mention all of this because those of us who call Jesus Saviour and Lord – who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone – we are human and we are Canadians. This means that we often develop religious ways of copying Canadian and human desires. In the process we deceive ourselves.

As you will hear in the sermon for this Sunday [Sept 30], by the end of Ruth God does not give Naomi the answers to her complaints, accusations and laments. However, many Christians, in our day to day lives and in our churches and favourite teachers, we find this intolerable. We delight in “Four steps to a Great Marriage” or “Come have a Miracle that will fix your addictions” or “Five truths that banishes sorrow” And when we are face-to-face with someone in trouble, we either feel confident that we have the answers, or we feel inadequate that we do not have the answers. So we too breathe the air of Genesis 3 and the Enlightenment.

Sometimes all we can do is weep with those who weep. Bring them food. Go for a walk with them. Be present and not abandon them. Give then a hug. Bring them to church. Pray for them. We do not have all the answers, but we do know the Gospel, and we can pray for the Lord to be present, while signaling His presence by our hospitality in His name. Jesus is the risen King. He is also the man of sorrows, familiar with grief, by whose wounds we are healed.