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Rev. Harry Currie

Apr 21, 2024

Genesis 7:11-24, John 21:1-14

You turn on the television. You turn on the radio. You pick up a magazine. You go online and surf the web.

       You read a newspaper and what do you see??? What do you hear?


An advertisement.


We are surrounded by advertising, engulfed in advertising


There is an ad on television for a men’s spray on cologne and literally thousands upon thousands of beautiful women in swimsuits are surrounding him running after him to want him, desire him, possess him because of his cologne.

       He is the most desirable man in the world.


I laughed the other day when I saw an ad for a 430 horsepower hybrid car. It was just so ludicrous. If you want to be concerned about the environment then do not buy a 430 horsepower vehicle. Period.


       A credit card advertises that membership has its privileges.


Drug companies have scores of ads today, letting you know that their products will make a new person out of you and keep you in the peak of health.


And I could go on and on and on about how overwhelmed we are with advertising.


And a lot of the ads, in my opinion, either blatantly or implicitly lie to us…

       ..Saying that our lives will be a whole lot better with this product.


And you know what advertising works.


But this is just one little example I think of how the world has changed over a hundred years or so. We are more overwhelmed at this time in history maybe than ever before.


There is more media, more advertising, more television stations, more news, more information, more world reports, more books, more movies, more history, more cars, more sports, more choices than ever before in history.


       You know when the United Bible Societies commissioned the Today’s English Version or what we also know as the Good News bible, they tried to make a translation that was very readable and understandable and so they limited the number of different English words to about a thousand.

       The average English speaker knows 10-20 thousand words.


       To contrast that, Shakespeare used about 30,000 different words throughout the all his writings. He made up almost 2000 words.


       And the Oxford English dictionary has over 600,000 English words in it,


       We are overwhelmed with words.


We are also overwhelmed with knowledge. The store of knowledge grows astronomically even exponentially.

And yet even as it grows studies contradict each other, scholars have different theories and ideas.


Take for instance what we eat.

What used to be good for you to eat is not. Then it is, then it is not.

Butter is good. Then it is bad and margarine is good. Then Margarine is bad and butter is good.

Now margarine is better than butter in your batter.

One diet says that you cut out almost all the carbs. Another diet says you cut out a lot of the protein.

Some say don’t eat meat. Paleo diet suggests lots of meat.

Fish are good??? Now fish are not as good as they used to be, too much pollution.

Is Fat is good, or bad? No fat used to be the ticket. Now you are supposed to have good fats.


And that is just one area of life.


We are overwhelmed with knowledge


What overwhelms you?



       Someone tells me that their job is overwhelming. He is a business manager and he is working 12 to 14 hours a day to try and stay ahead. And every couple of weeks there seem to be new products, new methods, new instructions from head office, new codes of conduct, new information to process, new customers to serve,

       All with the knowledge that if he doesn’t stay on top of it, the company will let him go and find someone else to do it, because they have done it to other managers.


       There are families who are overwhelmed with a debilitating illness by one of the family members. Multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, a stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart attack are some of the culprits to laying low a family member and the illness at times is overwhelming.


       There are parents who are overwhelmed with their children. Not only is there the whole cost of supporting children, with food, clothes, education etc. as prices skyrocket, there is mom and dad taxi drivers taking their kids everywhere. Mom and Dad dealing with drama and conflict and the emotional needs of children who by nature are somewhat emotionally needy.

       Having kids and raising kids can be overwhelming.



I remember over 25 years ago Fiona and I had three children in minor hockey and we were so overwhelmed with hockey. It was seven days a week, three different tournaments every weekend in different locations, registrations fees, ice fees, equipment cost,

       We just had to stop it. Overwhelmed.


       And then there are parents who are overwhelmed with conflict with children, constant disrespect, constant arguing, children acting out in undesirable ways.


There are parents overwhelmed with children.


Most of us here in church are not threatened by the North Saskatchewan flooding its banks and threatening us.


No, most us are threatened by different floods



And yet not all overwhelmings are bad.

       It was my birthday, and Fiona planned a surprise birthday party with family and friends and I was overwhelmed with love.


       It was Easter, the congregation singing, the organ playing, special music and instruments, the choir singing with descants, the Hallelujah Chorus. I was overwhelmed not only with joy, but with the presence of the resurrected Christ.


       A lady came to see me in my office, to tell me how much she appreciated the memorial service I conducted for her late husband, and how much she appreciated me as minister. I was overwhelmed and moved to tears by her appreciation.


       It is spring time, walking across the high level bridge, taking a moment to look out on the river valley, the sun shining, I was overwhelmed by beauty of creation.


              There is a classic biblical tale of overwhelming found in the book of Genesis. It is the story of Noah and the flood.


       The world is overwhelmed with sin and evil, and it needs to be washed away, and so a flood comes to clean the world and make it new.


       Faced with being overwhelmed by a flood, Noah builds an ark at the advice of God, reshapes his world and is saved.

       There are people overwhelmed with sin. Some of them know it and some of them don’t.

       There are those who have done grievous wrong and are aware of it and feel terrible remorse.

       There are those who do grievous wrong and don’t care.

       Most of us are in the middle of those extremes.

I sometimes wonder if most people do not even know how much hurt they do to others, consciously or unconsciously, and how that actually hurts their own souls or spirits robbing them of joy, good relationships, inner peace; and robbing them of financial, emotional and physical well-being.


So how do we deal with overwhelmings?


Well, there are two things that Noah did.


One thing he did was build an ark.


Faced with overwhelmings we can build an ark.

Not a wooden one that floats mind you.


What I am talking about is shaping our own reality, constructing our own identity.


When you build a real ark like Noah did, you have to measure carefully. You measure twice and cut one.

An ark has a dimension and size. Noah had a plan. And he followed that plan.


One way to deal with the overwhelmings of life is to define who you are, what your boundaries are, what you believe, how you are to act, what is important, what is of value, what are your priorities.

It is to have a plan of your life.


So that the overwhelmings do not shape who you are. You shape who you are.


Let us take a little example.

Let us say that your overwhelming is struggling with teenagers, and there is arguing and fighting and inappropriate behaviour. Maybe as a parent you feel overwhelmed and that you cannot control you children any more.


And maybe that is true. But while you cannot control your children, you can control yourself. To build an ark is to start thinking seriously about shaping your life in this situation. You can tell yourself how you are going to react. You can tell yourself you will not lose your temper. You can tell yourself that these are the boundaries you will or will not allow. You can tell yourself that you will stay calm, that you will not lose control, that you will keep your integrity, you will not get sucked into stupid arguments that go nowhere, that you will make appropriate consequences, that you will stick by your decisions, that you will not stop loving your children not matter what, that you will tell them straight up that you love them, and you will tell them what you find acceptable or not-acceptable.


Because in all our lives, there will be floods. It happens to all of us. Everyone of us is overwhelmed at times.

We cannot control life any more that we can stop the sun from rising.


Every spring the North Saskatchewan river swells and rises high. It is inevitable.


       To every life there are the floods.


We cannot control life. But we can build an ark. That is to say we can control ourselves. We always have choice in every situation.

       You can have a heart attack that is beyond your control. You can get cancer. You can come down with Multiple Sclerosis. You can have a child with Down’s Syndrome. You can have a loved one die.

       All things you cannot control. But you can build an ark. You can choose whether those things will destroy you or make you a better person. You can choose to let those things make you bitter or more loving. You can choose to be a sad person or a happy person. You can choose to feel cheated or feel blessed.


       That is not easy. That is why Noah when he built the ark did something else as well. The second thing that Noah did was listen to God.


One way to deal with the overwhelmings is to build an ark. Shape your own identity.

Another way, is to let God help you shape that identity. Another way is to draw on God’s resources of love and grace… to draw on his strength and power.


       The secret to overwhelmings is not to try and get rid of them or avoid them, but to find that which is life-giving. To pay attention to those things that are good and true and loving.

       And so, by listening and paying attention to the positive overwhelmings, the moments of grace, God shapes our lives.


After the resurrection, the disciple hardly knowing what to do went fishing. They fished all night and didn’t catch a thing.

       The next morning Jesus appears on the shore. They do not recognize him

He tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat.

       When the do they catch so many fish that they cannot pull the net into the boat and they have to drag it to the shore.



       It too is a story of overwhelming, of being overwhelmed by love and grace, of being overwhelmed by the presence of God, of being overwhelmed with the abundance of good things in life.


       One way to shape your life today is to go home and after lunch make a list of everything good in your life.

       Everyone who loves you and whom you love.

       Make a list of all the things you own, all the opportunities you had.

       Make a list of every time you have felt God’s presence.

       Make a list of every time someone has been nice to you.

       Make a list of every time God has forgiven you for being stupid, or selfish, or hurting someone

       Make a list of every stranger who has helped you.

       Make a list of everything you have done that was helpful to another,

       Make a list of every promise kept to you… or promises you kept.

       Make a list of the top ten things you have learned in life.

       Make a list of those people who have inspired you to be a better person.

       Make a list of every book or movie that has inspired you.

       Make a list of all the wonderful places you have visited on this earth.

       Make a list of your favourite animals and birds or flowers or trees or foods.


And I could go on and on.

       We do not have the time to list every good and loving and graceful thing that we have experienced in life.


       Yes, we can talk about the floods that threaten us.


But we can also talk about the God who saves us.

       The one who fills up our nets with an abundance of good things.


We cannot control life, but we can control ourselves and let God have control of us.


                Alison Hargreave, a young climber, lost her life on K2 one of the high Himalayan peaks.

       Some months later her widower and their two small children went back to visit the mountain where their mother’s body – never found would always remain.

       Their visit was filmed and shown on television.


       There was a particular moving moment when the family made a little stone memorial, where they intended to leave their last tributes and gifts to her.


       When it was ready, her daughter, Kate, aged four, spoke up and said that because candies were her favourite thing, and she wanted to give her mummy her favourite thing, she was going to leave behind a candy.


       As a parent, or even a human being, one’s heart is touched by such a story. I know what it is like to have my child take what is treasured and offer it to me as a gift of love.

       I know what it is like to look into those trusting and loving eyes, who want to please you and make you happy.


       So, when Kate gives her late mother a candy, we know not only how her mother Alison would have felt, but we also know how God feels when we bring our offerings of love.


       But maybe that is another way to deal with overwhelmings.

When the floods are around you, threatening and out of control, take one of God’s blessings and give it to someone. Take your favourite blessing and share it with another.


In the midst of your overwhelming, overwhelm someone else with love, and you will ride the ark of blessing through the floods of life.


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