“The Mystery of God”

Sermon Delivered By Rev. Dick Stetler – February 26, 2017

Centenary United Methodist Church

    Proverbs 3:1-10; Romans 12:1-8


*Cub Scout Sunday


1.  The boys were asked to give their definitions or thoughts about "God."  Their answers spanned a wide array of images from an older man with a beard to a light that offers guidance for living.  Fascinating answers and reflective of the way each person perceives God.  Most of us have developed some understanding of the concept of God from utter nonsense, an unknowable source of creative energy to a highly personal, loving spirit that helps people to navigate successfully while living.

2.  Mentioned that God gave them a highly sophisticated physical form that comes from a fertilized egg that has all the instructions inside of it to construct a massively complicated biological machine to live in.  Even the best minds in science have no idea how this occurs in every life form on earth, e.g., how a tomato plant will develop from instructions planted in the white powder within its seed.

3.  Mentioned that life is filled with definitions that we give to our experiences. Often we hear, "I have good days and bad days."  What makes a "bad day" is a decision we make and nothing else.  What is a mountain for one person is a mole hill for another.  Why is that?  A quality life is the result of our attitude and how we define and interpret our life-experiences.  All days and experiences are good ones even though they may not be our preferences.  We have the power and the ability to make an inconvenience into a teacher of patience.

4.  Mentioned that God is not an Automatic Teller Machine.  Cited some examples of how God allows us to manage our own lives.  This is our movie and no one else's.  We are here to see how creative we can be in understanding and interpreting our life-experiences.  God is not in our lives to do our inner homework for us.  Life is our opportunity to use what we discover within ourselves, e.g., values, goals, and being the architect and the visionary to develop our skills of spirit.


  • What does God do when we have a problem that will never go away?  The example of the oyster was used.  The oyster creates a pearl from some irritant and goes on living beautifully.  That silky material transforms the irritant into something that no longer bothers the oyster just as a creative attitude helps people to rise above their permanent infirmity.

  • Discussed what God does when we are struggling.  Used the illustration of a boy that wanted to help a butterfly free itself from its cocoon.  By cutting some of the tiny fibers, thus helping with the insect's struggle, the well-meaning boy robbed the emerging butterfly of its ability to fly.  Butterflies gain strength for their wings by struggling mightily to free themselves.  Much is gained spiritually in people from their struggles.  God's role in life is not to intervene when we face challenges. We may even conclude that we have been totally abandoned, but hindsight teaches us otherwise -- in time our greatest fears (heat & pressure) enable us to develop into a beautiful diamond.  Everything we need to be successful in life was included when we were born.  Our task is to access it and develop it.

  • The message was concluded by giving them a metaphoric image of what it is like to die.  There was a tiny colony of water bugs at the bottom of a pond. Occasionally, each bug noticed that some of them would lose their minds, abandon their routines and climb the long stems of the water plants.  They never saw them again after they pierced their bright sky.  The group made a pact that when this happened to them, they would return to tell the rest what happened after they ascended and went beyond the sky.  As time passed, some of them lost their minds and crawled up the stems and were gone.  They awakened on top of a lily pad totally transformed.  They had wings and their world was beyond anything that they could describe to their friends at the bottom of the pond. They had become totally transformed into dragonflies.   In remembering their pact, they tried to return but they were unsuccessful.  They flew with all their might and slapped hard against the surface of the water.  They were unable to penetrate it.  Then they reasoned that they would scare their friends to death with their new forms.  No one on the bottom of the pond would understand.  Life had become far too different. Each would have to wait their turn to learn what was waiting for them beyond the sky.  No one would understand that eventually each would be given the ability to fly.

  • The message from this anecdote is the way it will be for people.  We came through a tunnel (birth canal) to arrive here in our physical world and we will exit through another tunnel as we arrive in our next realm where life will be totally different.  Like the water bugs at the bottom of the pond, who would believe what others, who have gone there before them, might describe when all of their former needs of their physical bodies are useless in the next realm?  Every need has been replaced by far different skills that hopefully each developed along their earthly journey. Most likely listeners to any preview of the next existence would assume that such testimony is the result of an overactive imagination.  Life on earth gives everyone the opportunity to discover, develop and refine skills of spirit that will prove extremely useful in both environments.  What is left is to live by faith and trust that we are always under God's care whether we believe it or not.

        *What is printed above is an outline for adult reading of off-the-cuff /i>remarks made to a group of 35 Cub Scouts, their parents and Centenary's congregation.  This service is an annual event for the 19th Cub Scout Pack of Bermuda, the largest Pack on the island of 75 boys. Centenary has sponsored the Pack since 1959.  We adjourned to Stephenson Hall for a luncheon.



Creator of peace, wisdom and compassion, we thank you for creating us to soar beyond our known capabilities. Help us to understand that there are no failures.  There are only results that help us to walk through the doors of change. We know the tension between having confidence to make a difference and the hesitancy to act. Help us to use what we have learned to make our values visible. We thank you for opportunities to seize a moment to make a positive difference in someone's life.   Thank you for the gift of life. Amen.



Loving and faithful God, we are so thankful that we live in a world surrounded by reminders of your presence everywhere. How is it that inside a fertilized egg there are instructions that automatically unfold without our having to do anything but watch in amazement as a new baby is born.   How intriguing it is to realize that this new being is totally different from anyone who ever lived in the past, present or future.  Each of us while similar is one-of-a-kind that becomes poised to give the world the fruit from our imaginations, our visions and our abilities of intuition.

This morning we celebrate the character building that is being provided to young boys by the 19th Cub Scout Pack.  It is wonderful that they are here today along with their leaders and a number of parents.  We cannot begin too early in developing our one-of-a-kind spirit. There are so many distractions today that are in competition for the attention of our young people.  We are thankful that Scouting is among the wholesome alternatives.  

As we worship together, many of us realize that we are not always the best communicators of what it looks like to be an ideal role model.  Every new day is a diamond to be polished.  Every new day we are given the opportunity to create a newer version of ourselves.  Please give us the vision, O God, to see ourselves as you see us and to build on that vision.  We never know when it will be our turn to create something that will change the future.  We pray these thoughts through the spirit of Jesus, the Christ, who taught us to say when we pray . . .