I don’t manuscript sermons, but this final sermon in the series, “Everything you ever wanted to know about the Bible but were afraid to ask,” at First Christian Church of Oakland, was on one of the toughest questions out there: “If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why is there suffering?” So I’m doing my best to re-create my sermon based on the outline I used in my sermon this past Sunday, June 16, 2013, my second-to-last sermon as pastor of FCCO.
When I was in seminary, I worked as a chaplain at a respite care center for homeless people. The people I worked with had been to hell and back, or not quite back yet. I remember one man who had gone through deep grief—a physical setback, the loss of a family member, and real constant pain due to an infection in his leg. I was in the midst of a brief love affair with process theology at the time, and I had the textbook pastoral response for him: “I want you to know God is suffering with you.”
He patted my hand kindly, said, “I know you care about me and you’re trying to help, but the God I worship doesn’t suffer.” (more…)