Deus Absconditus

Worship on the Lord’s Day
02 July 2023    Pentecost 5    10:00 am
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music Director: Binu Kapadia           Vocalist: Glynnis McCrostie
Elder: Sam Malayang
We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: When I think of God’s presence in the world, I am grateful:
P: Grateful for the presence of hope; grateful for the gift of life.
L: And when I think of God’s presence in my life, I am humbled:
P: Humbled by the gift of grace; humbled by the invitation to begin again.
L: And when I think of God’s presence in this community, I am glad:
P: Glad to be surrounded by holy people worshipping our Holy God.
L: Thank you all; thank you, God.

Opening praise: Everlasting God

Prayers of approach and confession
Lord God, Loving God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

From north and south, from east and west, drawn by your majesty, we come to worship you.

For the gift of this new day, fresh from your hand, we rejoice.

For the renewal we know through friendship with Christ, we praise you.

For the Spirit’s energy, blessing us in each moment, we honour you.

Lord God, Loving God, all of life is your gift, so give us glimpses of your splendor and love in this time of worship.

Accept our praise offered in word and action, Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit, here and everywhere, now and always. Amen.

Lord of all life and each life,

We confess we can forget that life is your gift, especially when we face struggles or feel hard done by.

We confuse our own desires for your will, and stop listening for your guidance.

Forgive any hurt we have caused by action or inaction, and show us how to make amends.

May we live with you and with each other in reconciling grace through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness
Friends, Jesus knows we have fallen short of his intentions for us, yet in his great mercy, he welcomes us back into his embrace. Thanks be to God that we are forgiven, refreshed and restored for ministry by God’s grace.

Musical Offering: Glynnis McCrostie

We listen for the voice of God

Song: How long will you forget me, Lord (6)

Scripture readings (NRSV): Psalm 13; Isaiah 45:15; John 14:9

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “Deus Absonditus”
In Psalm 13 David writes, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

There’s an old song by Ira Stanphill that sums it up this way: “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.”

Strong faith in God does not come all at once and it is not without its times of doubt, its struggle or pain. In fact Strong Faith is often gained through willing submission to God’s love and goodness while one is right in the midst of trial.

Our text for this morning, Psalm 13, is a psalm of lament. It’s a song, it’s a prayer. And it’s a complaint. To modern ears, especially with the popularity today of “prosperity gospel” (churches telling people how God wants to give them wealth and status) the idea of complaining to God seems somehow out of place. Psalms of lament make people uncomfortable. They say things we aren’t sure should even be said. They get in touch with the pain inside of us that we’re not always eager to engage. And they are everywhere in scripture.

Almost half the Psalms in the book of Psalms are psalms of lament. In addition most books of the bible contain at least one prayer of lament and there’s even an entire book of the bible called Lamentations (complaints) that sadly enough; rarely gets read. Now, that is understandable. We live in a world that is largely separated from our emotions unless they are happy emotions. The hard work of the soul is not something people do for fun. More often than not we try to hide our pain away and put on a happy Christian face. Who wants to complain to God? It just seems wrong somehow. Still, the truth is, complaint is actually a big part of our Holy Scriptures, and so also, a big part of our faith and tradition.

I know, complaining to God is sort of like an ant complaining to a elephant about its little ant problems. It just seems arrogant and wrong. What’s more when people in scripture complain to God it doesn’t always go smoothly. When Job gets a little too testy with God, God’s got a response prepared and it’s a doosy. God’s response to Job is this: “And Job, just where were you when I stretched out the heavens like a tent and hung the stars in the heavens?”

But the thing is, even though God challenges Job, his prayer is not and never could be out of order. Job’s God is not upset that Job has complained. Once we get over that fear we quickly realize that, not only are we allowed to complain but we’re actually encouraged to bring our complaints to God.

And I find that amazing. I find the level of honesty God wants us to have with Him comforting. When things aren’t right, we’re supposed to turn to the one holding our tomorrow.

Psalm 10 begins by saying, “WHY, O LORD, DO YOU STAND FAR OFF? WHY DO YOU HIDE YOURSELF IN MY TIMES OF TROUBLE?” It sounds harsh but really, what’s wrong with that. Who hasn’t felt that way? In fact this is such a common theme in scripture that has it’s own Latin name. Deus Abscond-i-tus. The God who hides.

In Psalm 22 David cried out saying, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? WHY ARE YOU SO FAR FROM THE WORDS OF MY GROANING? O MY GOD, I CRY OUT BY DAY BUT YOU DO NOT ANSWER ME-” I mean, miracles are great but as an old professor of mine used to say, “If miracles happened everyday they’d be called normals”. The fact is, a lot of our prayers should sound like David’s (asking Where are you God?).

Because a lot of our prayers seem to go unanswered. And when they do – “Why?” is a perfectly reasonable request (as long as it’s honest and not arrogant). And I think admitting that is healthy.

There is a sentiment today that seems to think that crying and complaining to God are signs of a weak faith. As if truly religious people never waver or get shaken. But that’s ridiculous. If someone you love gets cancer and you don’t have at least a couple chinks in your “faith-armor” than I think there’s something seriously wrong with you. How could you not be shaken? In a world where there is so much hurt and pain we need to recapture the tradition of Lament. We need to be able to express our feelings and be honest with God.

The Psalmist writes, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”

“How long Lord?” Who here hasn’t felt that way?

And when we feel beat down and ignored what better solution is there than prayer? That’s why Paul tells the Philippians “but in everything, by prayer and petition… present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

That’s what God’s there for, right… to listen.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that God answers every prayer. It’s just that he doesn’t always give you the answers you want. Sometimes it’s Yes but sometimes it’s Later and sometimes it’s just “No”.

Sometimes it’s yes.

I think I’ve told some version of this story in every congregation I have served. But many years ago now, my brother was taking his 3 kids to visit our parents (driving from Kansas where he lives to Omaha Nebraska where my parents lived) when a large grain truck pulled out onto the highway; turning left and covering all lanes in both directions. From the devastating aftermath the police could tell that the car had not been speeding and that it had slammed on the brakes… and that at the very end, it had swerved a hard left (with a clear intent of putting the brunt of the impact on the driver – the exact opposite of what’s usually seen). The car was demolished; the three kids were okay but were left caring for the limp bloodied body of their father.

Phone calls and Facebook requests went out.

I am aware of over 1,200 people that said they were praying for his family over that first week (including a 24-hour vigil in Dongshang China on June the 25th 2014) and that’s just one of the ones I know about. My brother Chad was in a coma with severe brain damage, and they thought he was going to die. Chad had a DAI traumatic brain injury and was left in a coma with a 50% chance of waking up and a 50% chance of spending the 3 years following any possible awakening re-learning how to walk, talk and feed himself again (something they said he just might never accomplish). For the first 3 days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) we were being prepped for his assumed demise.

By Wednesday, he was captured wondering around the halls looking for a bathroom and talking (though very confused) and then later that day he even ate a plate of spaghetti by himself.

At the time I sent the following answer to a friend’s question. I wrote, “He’s definitely not himself (at times he is a 10 years old or very confused version of himself) but if he keeps up this rate of recovery, by next week, he’ll not only be better, he’ll have superpowers.” The team at Modona Rehab Center know him well.

The trauma has changed him for sure. But he is still doing some teaching at Friends University and working as a marriage and family counselor and administrator… Sometimes… God says “yes”. Sometimes, He’s not hidden at all. But…

Sometimes God says later.

In our inability to understand the unsearchable ways of God, there is a tendency for us to reach wrong conclusions, to assume God is ignoring us. There are times when God is silent, and we erroneously interpret God’s silence for inactivity. There are times in our lives when our hearts are breaking, and God seems to do nothing to restore them. Often when God doesn’t work in our particularly prescribed way or within our exact time frame, we feel like the Psalmist, that God has forgotten us.

But the truth is, the infinite Creator of the universe, often works in mysterious ways that are flat out unfathomable to us. Ambivalent and confusing feelings often arise. Hence, we can mistakenly feel that God doesn’t care about us. But the truth is He is there for us and no matter how we might feel at the time. God has promised us in His Word that “HE WILL NEVER LEAVE US NOR FORSAKE US” (Hebrews 13:5). He may be hidden, But he’s there.

Most of us pray as David did: “In the day when I call answer me speedily” (Psalm 102:2). “I am in trouble: hear me speedily” Psalm 69:17. The Hebrew word for speedily suggests “right now, hurry up, in the very hour I call on you, do it!” David was saying, “Lord, I put my trust in you—but please hurry!”

God is in no hurry. He doesn’t jump at our commands.

When Moses is told by God to tell pharaoh Let my people go, we know that God will also keep pharaoh from doing it. There is a whole story to unfold before Moses prayers were answered.

Abraham and Sarah don’t get their answered prayer for 13 years. Joseph prays for freedom and release from prison and for justice. That happens – again 13 years later. Isaiah’s prayer took about 700 years to be answered. If you are faithfully and hopefully praying and aren’t hearing anything yet, you are once again in good company.

Sometimes God in His wisdom says, “later”.

Other times God answers us “no”.

We don’t understand why and perhaps we never will. Sometimes God appears to be in hiding.

CS Lewis once said (I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t pray to change the mind of a perfect and all-knowing God. I pray because when I do, a perfect and all-knowing God changes me.” Or as Dr. David Osborn puts it, “Too often we try to use God to change our circumstances, while God is using our circumstances to change us.”

Sometimes God’s answer is just a simple “no” and it hurts.

We have all prayed one of those prayers. Even Jesus prayed that the cup of pain be taken away and yet that didn’t happen. Just think about that for a second. Jesus prayed to not have to face the pain of the cross. And He got a “no”. That is a hard one for me. It’s awfully hard to get mad at God for not answering me, when even Jesus got a No. Am I more deserving??? I don’t think so.

Dr. Mark Rutland, president of Southeastern College (in his book “God of the Valleys”) put it very well. He wrote, “From the mountaintops, we view life; in the valleys we live it.” “From the mountaintops, we view life; in the valleys we live it.”

While we are living life in the valleys we’re learning great lessons (sometimes very hard ones). The Bible tells us that these times allow us to stretch and grow our faith and to develop our maturity. Waiting on the Lord is not a time of inaction, rather it is perhaps the time of our deepest spiritual development (when we get broken down and remolded). And sometimes the ultimate injustice happens – Someone dies. And yet that is also when God claims us and those we love as his own. And while it does not feel like it to us – that is the ultimate healing and the answer to every prayer – to be forever with God.

Obviously, David was going through something here when he wrote this lament in Psalm 13. We don’t know what it was exactly, but David’s history was filled with not only fame and glory, but also sorrow and anguish. In other words, he was thoroughly human. He wasn’t especially close to his father and brothers. Nothing is mentioned of his mother. King Saul tried to hunt him down to kill him. His home life as king was tortuous. Three wives and multiple other relationships consumed him. He had an affair that included murder of the woman’s husband and made a bit of a mess of things. His children were at constant war with each other, and one son murdered another, after the first son violated his own half-sister. Then David’s other child tried his hand at patricide.

I think, maybe David had a few good reasons to write these words?

I bet you do too sometimes.

And yet despite these laments, God called David “a man after God’s own heart.”

Maybe that’s how he thinks of you too, when you feel lost and go out calling to him in your pain?

The idea that strong people of faith don’t go through trials or waver in their faith should be thrown to the ground and stomped upon. The truth is, we all have difficult times. And sometimes the ant really does needs to scream up into the sky and ask, “Why?”.

I think God wants that honesty.

Psalm 13 is just 6 verses long. But it comes with a little twist. David spends the first 4 lines complaining and crying that God isn’t answering him. And then all of the sudden he pulls a 180. He says, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (your rescue). I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He HAS been good to me.”

What’s most interesting to me about this is that David is still upset and God hasn’t answered his prayers yet. His face is hidden.

David is still in pain. And yet he says “I will sing to the Lord, because He Has Been good to me.” Not “He gave me what I want” or even “I trust that He will answer me”. BUT because “He Has Been Good To Me”. With all things considered, David is blessed. David’s experiences of God in the past reveal a loving God despite the way things appear at this difficult time. That is the God he calls upon and this is the God he rests in. The One who HAS been good.

Being a person of faith doesn’t mean living in the Rose Garden with kitty cats and unicorns. Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “…IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION…” In this sin-marred world we should expect troubles and heartaches. Nevertheless, ultimately God has promised to make all things right in the end.

Until that day we should continue to pray in all things. We do get miracles (and we should pray for them), Miracles do happen. Prayers are answered. Of this I have no doubt. But we also get to wait for the “later’s”… … … and… we get the hard to hear “no’s” too.

We have NOT been promised a life free from pain and sorrow, but rather one in which JOY WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD.” Until then, just know that shaking a fist at God from time to time doesn’t make you a weak Christian. It makes you an honest one.

Until the time comes when “Miracles” are just the “Normals”, we will just have to keep strong.

As I said before, there’s an old song by Ira Stanphill that perhaps sums it up best: “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.” Amen.

Song: Come, Thou Fount of every blessing

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
Generous God, what we return to you today has first come to us from you. Bless what we offer so that those in need may taste your abundance which we know already in Christ, our Living Lord. Amen.
Lord God of heaven and earth, with joy and thanksgiving we praise you for you create, sustain, and redeem all things.
For making us in your image to love one another and to care for your creation, we give you thanks.
For the gift of your Son whose life is the pattern for our lives and learning, we give you thanks.
For the energy of your Spirit to inspire us in times of challenge and change, we give you thanks.
Strengthen us in these challenging times to show your love to others as we pray
For the Church and those who lead it to find new ways of reaching out in a culture with changing values . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For creation that we may learn to reverence and care for it . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For those who lead the nations of the world that they may work for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable and seek peace together. . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For those who make decisions about health care, education and social services in these times when there are many demands in every area . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For the poor, the hungry and those struggling to find affordable housing when prices for everything seem to rise each day . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For those who struggle with illness, addiction, disability or despair, and for those who mourn the loss of someone dear . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

For the powerless and the oppressed, wherever they live, and for those who work to defend them . . .
Silence for 5 seconds

Hear us now as we pray in silence for situations on our hearts this day.
Silence for 15-20 seconds.

Eternal God, thank you for listening to us in every situation.
Keep our eyes open for your Spirit at work among us.
Equip us to respond to someone else’s prayer as your servants. Amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion


We come together at the Table of the Lord to be fed by God, nourished and prepared for the days ahead. We come to celebrate a tiny portion of a heavenly feast to come. We come to memorialize the death of Christ and Him resurrected. And we come, setting these elements aside, from all common use and dedicating them to the Lord’s service. Come all who hunger or thirst for righteousness.

Song: Behold the Lamb

We affirm our faith: The Apostles Creed (539)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer (sung – 469)

Communion Prayer
Holy and right it is, and our joyful duty, to give thanks to you at all times and in all places, O Lord our Creator, almighty and everlasting God!
You created heaven with all its hosts and the earth with all its plenty.
You have given us life and being, and preserve us by your providence.
But you have shown us the fullness of your love in sending into the world your Son, Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, made flesh for us and for our salvation.
For the precious gift of this mighty Savior who has reconciled us to you we praise and bless you, O God.
With your whole Church on earth and with all the company of heaven we worship and adore your glorious name.

Most righteous God, we remember in this Supper the perfect sacrifice offered once on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ for the sin of the whole world.

In the joy of his resurrection and in expectation of his coming again, we offer ourselves to you as holy and living sacrifices.

Send your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray, that the bread which we break and the cup which we bless may be to us the communion of the body and blood of Christ.
Grant that, being joined together in him, we may attain to the unity of the faith and grow up in all things into Christ our Lord.

And as the grain has been gathered from many fields into one loaf, and these grapes from many hills into one cup, grant, O Lord, that your whole Church
may soon be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Sharing of the bread and wine

The Lord Jesus, the same night he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke itand gave it to them, saying,
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me.”

After the same manner also, he took the cup when they had supped, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ.

The cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ.

Come all who hunger or thirst for righteousness.

Instrumental (Piano) Time of Reflection: You satisfy the hungry heart (538)

Song: One bread, one body (540)

The prayer after Communion
Since the Lord has now fed us at his Table, let us praise God’s holy name with heartfelt thanksgiving!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him, who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all,
and will also give us all things with him.
Therefore shall my mouth and heart show forth the praise of the Lord,
from this time forth forevermore. Amen.

Hymn: I’m gonna live so God can use me (648)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Keep your eyes open as you walk in God’s world, alert for occasions to share God’s love. And may the God who made us, the Christ who mends us, and the Spirit who gives us life walk with you each and every day. Amen

Response: The Blessing

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.