Sermon on 1 Kings 8, the dedication of the Temple, and the imagination.
Make believe is something that we often look down upon. From a child’s imaginary friend to someone’s over-involvement in books, tv or movies, we (the enlightened) tend to look down upon those whose minds are in the clouds. “It’s not real.” “Aren’t you worried he won’t have ‘real’ friends.” “It’s just a movie.” “What a waste of time.”
Yet, some of our favorite books and movies are completely composed of the quest to realize that play and childlikeness are important, if not serious parts of the human reality. Think of Peter Pan – I will never grow up, right? The boy who won’t become an adult. My favorite portrayal is in the movie “Hook.” You have a grown-up Peter Pan who has forgotten who he really is, and he gets dragged back to Neverland by Tinkerbell to save his children from Captain Hook. At one point, Peter joins up with the lost boys. He’s starving. It is time to eat and they sit down at the table. They pray. The lids come off the plates and there is nothing. At least not in Peter’s eyes. But the boys remind him of his favorite games of make believe. Some being the obligatory “momma” joke. Another being the imagination tied to food. Eventually Peter imagines the food and it is there.
Sermon on 1 Kings 3 - Solomon asks for a wise and understanding heart
Wisdom is a weird word. It’s a word that conjures up two images in my mind. One is the college professor. Long robes. The funny hat. Hood. Big massive bookcase. A pipe and a cat sleeping on the window sill. The other is an old man. A monk-like figure. Long grey beard. Monastic robes. Living in a hovel on the side of the road. Two different pictures tied to two ideas we have of wisdom, which is unfortunate. One being the educated. The enlightened. Wisdom usually tinged with pride and prejudice. One who must be listened to because they know things. The other being age. Old age as a qualifier, a prerequisite to wisdom. Neither case can be proven but I use these two examples to paint a picture for you of the problem with wisdom. It’s a hard word because we leave it out there and it can mean so much. You can have a farmer who has an 8th grade education and is wiser than someone who graduated from Harvard for instance. Many of us know someone, a child, parent, grandparent, maybe not that old, or that educated, and yet they are wise. People with “old souls” as the romantics call them.
Sermon on 2 Samuel 18:4-16, 31-33 - Absalom fights against David
I was told once, by an old seminary preaching professor who was leading a seminar, that the job of the preacher, as you approach the text, is to look at the text and find the Jesus. Where is Jesus in the text? Then, what is getting in the way of that Jesus? Me, as your preacher, your pastor…I have the job of offering up to you Christ. This place here being an extension or precursor of that place there. Me making the most of the Lord for you that you are amazed by what kind of Savior you have.
Now with this text from 2 Samuel, Absalom in rebellion against his own father, I have a hard job. How to find Jesus here? Because my first reaction is to come to this text and be thankful. Thankful that what the Bible is filled with is not the superheroes of the faith. As I keep telling you. These heroes that are supposed to cause me to be a better guy or something. No. It causes me to realize I am not alone.
Sermon on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15 - The aftermath of David and Bathsheba
I will have to admit, as I planned this summer sermon series, knowing that last week we would have our ecumenical service for Muskie Days, deep down I was excited that I would not have to deal with the story of David and Bathsheba. Then I looked ahead, seeing that last week we had the account from 2 Samuel 11, and now we have the aftermath before us. It is inescapable.
Those of you who don’t know the story. David is king, yet he does what was not a kingly thing to do. Chapter 11 opens with this line - In the spring when kings march out to war, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah, but David remained in Jerusalem. It has always struck me that when kings were supposed to be out fighting their people’s battles for them, that was one of the reasons why Israel wanted a king in the first place, David stays home.