A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS

GATHERING SONG                               “Praise and Thanksgiving”                             red book # 689

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                                                  red book # 157

CANTICLE OF PRAISE                                                                                  red book # 167

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

PROVERBS 9:1–6

PSALM 34:9-14

EPHESIANS 5:15-20

JOHN 6:51-58

SERMON                                                                                                              Pastor Chris Halverson

There was a survey about religion in America done in 2005 and then re-done just this year. In those 7 years there was a remarkable increase in atheism—a 13% increase. When asked about their reasons for leaving the faith, the most consistent answer was that they felt like they had to choose between science and religion, and chose science.

I would imagine that, for them, they felt like they were being told to, “Chose your curiosity about the world around you or choose that all answers are already discovered.”

Like the choice was between a closed book and a sense of wonder.

And so, today I would like to preach briefly on the subject Science and Scripture.

First I will briefly point out the two main ways people think about these things.

Then I will point out what Wisdom literature in general and the book of Proverbs, including chapter 9 which we read today, have to say about Science and Scripture.

Finally, I will suggest why this is important, not just theoretically, but practically.

Let us pray

There are two main ways people relate scripture and science.

One way people look at the relationship between the two is to affirm that the way the world is described as working in the Bible must be 100% accurate, that it must be literally and scientifically accurate. If things are discovered in the natural world, which contradict what is found in scripture you have to make a choice, between what the Bible says and what science says. You have to say either:

1.   scripture is wrong in how it describes the world, and therefore wrong in total—that is there is no truth within it at all

OR

2.    you have to say scientific observation comes to different conclusions about how the world works than scripture, and therefore is at best severely flawed and at worst the tool of the devil

This way of understanding the interaction between scripture and science is quite extreme at both ends—ending in militant atheism or crude fundamentalism.

The other main view, taken by most people who spend their time thinking about these things, including Martin Luther in his own way, is that the fundamentalists—both religious and atheist—have created a false

choice between a system of observation and a system of values and relationships—in other words they do two different things—they are asking different questions, Science asks How questions and Religion asks Why questions. Asking a book of ancient poetry to explain chemical bonding is just as absurd as asking a geology textbook “What is love?”

Yet, even this way of viewing scripture and science still makes a clear division between curiosity about the world around us and curiosity about God.

This morning, however, I would like to point to another way of looking at this Scripture/science divide.

I would like to suggest that within our faith there is a tradition that encourages scientific inquiry. Specifically, the Wisdom tradition of Hebrew Scripture strongly encourages the observation of the natural world.

Wisdom literature, found in the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, some of the Psalms, and most clearly in the book of Proverbs, can be summed up by Proverbs chapter 4 verse 7:

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight.”

The authors of Proverbs see themselves as passing along their observations about the rhythm of life—which they refer to as wisdom and insight, and they encourage that same sort of observation—this same sort of pre-scientific science—in their disciples, children, and anyone who reads their words.

Now this observation is generally of people—learning to judge moral and immoral actions by recording generations of observation of how the wicked and the wise act. But, every now and again, they turn their eyes to the natural world with such statements as, “Observe the ant you sluggard.”

In fact, these writers trust that “the earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,” and therefore, believe that the world was ordered in such a way that you can crack it open through observation, through discovery of wisdom, and see the mind of God.

They take this line of reasoning so far that they affirm that Wisdom is more than just this thing we can attain, but it is in fact a person. Yes, you heard me right—collective observation of the world is a person.

that at the birth of the universe, when God spangled the sky with stars and laid the foundations of the earth, Wisdom—in the figure of a little girl—clapped her hands in joy as the world came into being and creatures began populating the planet. At the same time she is also the blueprint God is using for creation—she is both God’s cheerleader and playbook.

We see that little girl all grown up as Lady Wisdom in today’s reading from Proverbs, calling for folk to come to her table and eat of meat, bread, and wine so that they might walk in insight. She is saying, “You foolish people, observe how God put this all together, so that you might interact with it rightly.

And, just in case you are saying at this point, “well that’s weird Old Testament stuff,” the author of John picks up Lady Wisdom serving as God’s blueprint when he writes, “In the beginning the Word was with God.” Somewhere along the line when Christians read about Lady Wisdom they saw Jesus. We even hear echoes of this in our letter to the Ephesians today—in which it essentially says, “We live in foolish days, so let us act with wisdom.”

All of this to say there is, within our tradition and within our holy scriptures, voices that tell us that observation of the world around us, and that’s what science is all about, is central to their faith life.

Why is this important for you to know?—what does it mean for you? What does it mean to the children who were at VBS this last week? What does it mean for Kayleigh who we are about to Baptize?

Simply this, the consciences of faithful people can be troubled by the false choice between science and scripture and it doesn’t need to be that way.

         Kayleigh, in a few moments we will be joining you to Christ’s body in the world, the church, through Baptism, and Christ will abide in you and you in him. And I want you to know he abides in every piece of you, including your curiosity and your sense of wonder.

BAPTISM

HYMN of the DAY                                            “Borning Cry”                                      red book # 732

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING & OFFERTORY                “As the Grains of Wheat”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS                      “Lamb of God”

     Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 471

Sending

SENDING SONG                “Praise to You, O God of Mercy”             red book # 208

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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