Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sermon for June 13, 2010

Rev. George Miller
2 Samuel 11:1-26
“God’s Imperfect People ”
June 13, 2010

2 weeks ago I received a sad phone call: Rue McClanahan had died. Rue had been a TV fixture for decades, from “Maude” to “Mama’s Family” to “Sordid Lives.” But she will always be known as Blanche Devoruex from “The Golden Girls.”

You may not know this, but I’m a fan of “The Golden Girls.” Like many people, I became addicted to the Ladies of Miami through their endless repeats on the Lifetime channel.

10 a.m., 4 p.m., 11 o’clock: “The Golden Girls” were on and for an hour or two or three each day you could laugh and feel like you were home with your mother, your grandmother, your friends.

Sophia, the wise one; Dorothy, the sensible one; Rose; the hopeful one.

Blanche was the southern belle who never lost her wit or her wiles. She was unapologetically sensuous, which was revolutionary for its time. Up until then aging people were rarely seen as anything but...aging.

Rue said she believed that as people grew older they developed another layer of who they were, that they did not become a creature or some other thing.
That’s deep: the idea that as we age we develop more layers of our personhood; always growing, always evolving, always being transformed.

Look at Rue’s career and you’ll see this, as she continued to work on Broadway, TV and films.

In 2003 she had a small role in “The Fighting Temptations.” It was about a scam artist who returns to his home church to help them win a singing competition.

The choir he assembles is a motley lot, a multi-racial group made up of jailbirds, church mothers and lounge singers. In the process he is redeemed, finding a permanent place in the church. Rue McClanahan was one of the singers.

The closing song is aptly titled “Time to Come Home” and features UCC-like lyrics:

“It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done wrong/It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re always welcome/It only matters that your heart believes and you confess/If you’ve committed any sin you’ll be forgiven/Calling on all God’s children, it’s time to come home.”[i]

The essence of Christianity.

So I ask: Why are there so many folk out in the world who feel they can not spiritually come home?

Is it because we’ve failed to let them know that this is a home they can go to?

Or is it because they’ve forgotten that everyone sins? Because one of the glorious things about the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, is just how clearly it shows how human we are, and that everyone makes mistakes.

That we are all God’s imperfect people.

And yet although we make bad choices, we are worthy of being loved, of finding redemption, and of having a spiritual place to call home.

The writer of 2 Samuel did not have a problem showing life as it is. Instead of whitewashing events, the author shared the bawdy and the tragic.

It’s actually stunning to think that this story is told at all, because here is a recollection that Israel’s national hero acted like a mafia don.[ii]

To fully grasp the gravity of what happens is to realize that this King David is the same David we read about in Sunday School.

This is David, God’s Chosen One, who defeated Goliath, supposedly wrote the Psalms and became Israel’s greatest King.

And yet, in chapter 11 we have this story in which he breaks at least 4 commandments and his world is forever changed.
What happened? As the author tells us, it’s springtime. A time when nature is busy making love and kings like to go to war. But for some reason David is staying home.

While his men are busy fighting, David has taken an afternoon nap. While his men are busy fighting, David wakes up with a stretch and a yawning and goes for a walk around his palace.

And David just so happens to see Bathsheba, a beautiful, married woman taking a bath. He sends his messengers to fetch her so he can lay with her.

Just how Bathsheba felt we will never know. Did she come willingly, was she forced, did she even have a choice? We are not given a chance to hear her feelings, nor are any motives ascribed to her.

Was she a seductress, a victim of rape, or somewhere in between?

What we do know is that in his actions, David commits numerous transgressions. His lust leads to adultery, his adultery leads to murder: acts of violence that stain his life forever.

And in this story we’re left to ask “How did God’s anointed one become an angel of death?”[iii]

How could that little boy who persevered against the enemy and play the harp become a tragic example of misused power?

Why does the Bible even bother telling this story? It’s too tabloid, something you’d see at the supermarket check-out line. How could this possibly warrant space in something we call the “Good Book?”

It’s a story in which there seems to be little hope.

And yet, we should be thankful that the writer dared to capture the weakness and vulnerability of a person such like David.[iv] That even those we most admire are not immune to sin.

We should be thankful that we can see how even King David is a human being. That we can’t expect him to act like a god, because there is only one God.[v]

This story is here because the author wants us to know that someone like David can be our role model, not because we are to strive to be like him, but because we are like him.[vi]

Imperfect, flawed, capable of horrible deeds.

2 Samuel 11 is the story of a fallen hero, and if we can face his sin, then we can also face our own.[vii]

And the reason why we face our sin is so that we can admit it, we can confess it, and we can let it go, loosing the power it has over us; preventing our sins from blinding us.

I think of Psalm 51: “...Cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me...Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”[viii]

As Christians, that new and right spirit comes on behalf of Jesus Christ.

It is Jesus, the blameless one, who intercedes for us, who works to save us, who offered himself for our sakes.[ix]

Jesus lets us know that our sins do not have to separate us from others or keep us spiritually homeless.

We see this in the woman who finds forgiveness by washing Jesus’s feet. We learn about it in the story of the son who returns home to the welcoming father.

We hear it on the cross, as Jesus assures a condemned man that he will have a home in Paradise.

Just like David, we are all sinners, we are all imperfect. Our sins may create rifts in the fabric of God’s universe,[x] but that does not mean they have to forever define who we are.

The Gospel message is that God found a way to work through David’s sins to bring redemption into the world. It may have taken generations to happen, but redemption came in Jesus Christ, the great-great descendent of David and Bathsheba.[xi]
If God can still love David and work through his misdeeds, imagine how much God loves you and will work through your daily transgressions, big and small.

In conclusion, yes, we may sin, but we do not have to bear the burden by our self: the Redeemer is here. And it is Jesus who saves any and all who approach God through him.

It does not matter if you are a Blanche or a Bathsheba, a David or a don.

For any heart that is heavy laden, know that in Jesus Christ we do not have to stay away: it is time to come home.

In God’s home we are forgiven. In God’s home our hearts, bodies and soul and washed clean.

In God’s home we each have the chance to become...Golden.

Thanks be to the Spirit who calls us back to the Father, thanks be to Jesus who willingly carried that message to the cross, and thanks be to God for allowing Emmanuel UCC to be a place for us all to call home.

Amen and amen.

Matthew 1:6

[i]. “Time to Come Home” from the CD “Music from the Motion Picture ‘The Fighting Temptations’”. Words and music by Jam & Lewis, James Wright and Be
yonce, 2003.[ii].John C. Holbert, from Theological Commentary-The First Readings: The Old Testament and Acts, 20
01, pg. 206.[iii].Bruce C. Birch, Commentary on 1 and 2 Samuel, from The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Volume II
(NIB), 1
[vi].Holbert[vi]. Elaine Doob Sakenfield, Just Wives? Stories of Power & Survival in the Old Testament &
[viii].Birch[viii].Biblical quotes from the New Revised Standard Ve
rsion (NRSV)[ix].See Heb
rews 7:23-28[x].Sakenfi
eld, pg. 213[xi].See

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