February 13, 2018

The Mystery of Faith

February 13, 2018


Psalm 110:1-4

Job 19:23-27

1 Timothy 3:14-16

This weekend’s reading: Luke 23:34

A few weeks ago, we heard a sermon in which King Nebuchadnezzar encounters the mystery of the God of Israel, the God of those exiles he had captured and taken off to Babylon. He wanted someone to tell him what his troubling dream was and what it meant. None of his own sorcerers had a clue, but Daniel listened to God was able to tell him. The king falls down before Daniel and says: “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries.”

We are about to enter what once was called “The Season of the Paschal Mystery.” The combined seasons of Lent (40 days not including Sundays) and Easter (50 days) lasts almost one-third of the year, but even this amount of time devoted to deep contemplation of God’s great self-giving act of salvation doesn’t resolve the mystery that only God can reveal. What caused God to relinquish power in Jesus so that he was “obedient even to death on a cross,” and then to raise Jesus up again to the earth and to God’s throne? Why does God love us so much? At Holy Communion, we affirm the “mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16 calls this the mystery “from which all true godliness springs” and places it as the “pillar and foundation” of the truth to which the church, “God’s household,” bears witness. These are words to remember as we come together tomorrow as a congregation to affirm our calling to “lift high the cross” to the world. We have the assurance in the face of this great mystery, as Job testified long ago, that our Redeemer lives, and we will see him with our own eyes. How our hearts yearn within us! (Job 19:23-27).


  • What does the word “mystery” mean to you? How does the biblical meaning of mystery differ from its use to designate a novel by Agatha Christie or other “mystery” writers?
  • How does Jesus represent for us God who is near at hand and yet God who is also “Wholly Other” (or Holy Other)?


  • Children are often more accepting than adults of God’s mystery. Find out what the children you know think about God’s strange and wondrous ways?
  • Look at the art in our church—the stained-glass windows (the lamb and the dove), the design of the worship space, and especially the Chagall paintings on the Narthex balcony—and talk about the way art recalls the mystery of our faith. Plan to visit a Greek or Russian Orthodox Church during Lent and see how they celebrate the Mystery.

God of mysterious ways, you promise that, gathered at your holy mountain, we will know you. Help us to stop looking for you in the wrong places and remember that your mercy is with the poor, the outcast, and the stranger. Open our hearts to those you came to heal. In Jesus’ name. Amen.