Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sermon for June 17, 2012; I Samuel 16:1-13

Rev. George Miller
1 Samuel 16:1-13
“Israel’s Next Top Model”
June 17, 2012

Last week I came across a quote that I’d like to share: “All children are propelled by the need to make themselves whole.”

It’s an appropriate quote for this morning. After all, it’s Father’s Day, we are all children of God, and we each long to fill that space in us that feels incomplete.

Sometimes, no matter how old we are, when tragedy strikes we find ourselves back in a child’s frame of mind, wanting our Daddy or Mommy to comfort us and to tell us that everything will be OK.

I’m sure that’s where many of us were last Sunday when we heard the news that Carol Orth had died. I know I was.

Like I do whenever something painful occurs I went to what gives me comfort: food and TV.

So on Sunday afternoon, after church was over, fellowship and visits were finished, I went back to my house and did what I needed to do: I popped pop corn, poured a glass of iced tea and put on an episode of the cooking program “Chopped.”

“Chopped” is a reality competition that I find reassuring. It follows a structured, set formula in which I can always tell when the next commercial break is about to take place.

Because each episode is basically the same, I was able to zone out, eat my food, drink my drink and safely fall asleep, allowing an escape from the devastating news.

Another reality show that gives me great comfort is “America’s Next Top Model” by Tyra Banks. I’ve been watching it for 8 years now.

One thing I like about that show is the message it gives. Beauty is not based solely on what’s on the outside, but how comfortable the model is with who they are, and the life-force that dwells within them.

Girls who were once made to feel like outsiders because they were deemed too tall or too awkward or too skinny or too curvy discover that those very things are what makes them beautiful and unique.

Therefore, the winner of “America’s Next Top Model” is not always the one who is the most classically beautiful, but usually the unconventional one who has that “je ne sais quoi” or “IT” factor.

That’s basically the gist of today’s story.

The people of Israel have a King named Saul. At first he seemed to have all the right creditentials: tall, handsome, brave.

But Saul has been a complete flop: he disobeys God, accepts zero accountability and just can’t be what the people need.

So a new king is needed to take his place. God sends Samuel to a little hick town to a virtual nobody named Jesse whose family tree is at best non-traditional, filled with foreigners and prostitutes.

But that does not stop God. God is about to do a new thing, and as so often the case, God’s perfect work does not require perfect people.

So what follows is something akin to “America’s Next Top Model”: a runway show in which Jesse’s sons are the participants.

One by one each boy is sent to strut it out before Samuel for inspection.

First down the runway is Eliab, the oldest son with the good looks of Cary Grant and the stature of Michael Jordan.

So impressed by his beauty, Samuel assumes he is the one. But God’s Still Speaking voice says “Na-ah. I’m looking beyond the superficial.”

Next comes Abinadab, followed by the five other brothers, but none of them have that “je ne sais quoi” that God is looking for.

In a situation similar to Cinderella, Samuel asks Jesse if he has any more sons. Jesse hesitantly states “Well, there is an eighth one; but he’s the runt of the family and we have him out working with the sheep.”

But guess what: it is the eighth born of a no-count family in a no-count town that possesses what God has been looking for.

“That’s the one!” God says to Samuel when David steps up to do his runway walk. “Go, anoint the boy; he will be our new king.”

Logic said Eliab should have been king, but it was last-born David with his earthy ruddiness that is called the chosen one.

The moral of the story? There’s a few; so pick the one you like:

-God does not see the way that we do.
-God does not always do what we expect.
-God’s ways can sure seem odd, but in the end they are always the best.

These leave a few questions for us to ask:

-What did God see in David that did not exist within the other brothers?

-Why was God able to see what David’s own father could not?

We could find some answers by reading ahead to discover that David was strong, steadfast, and spiritual.

He would work hard to unite the people and although he didn’t always do the right thing, he would become the model for the expected messiah.

Ruddy, marginalized, eighth born David kept hidden in the field because he wasn’t deemed worthy enough by his own family.

But wow, oh wow, he was deemed more then worthy enough by his heavenly Father.

In conclusion, perhaps in addition to saying that “God is Still Speaking” we can also say that “God is Still Seeing.”

How many people like David have we passed over in our lives?

People who we assumed were not the right, or obvious or safe choice?

How often have we been more bedazzled by someone’s looks or position then the possibilities they possess or the contents of their character?

I do not know.

But I believe we could do a better job trying to see as our Heavenly Father sees: beyond rank, beyond age, beyond pedigree.

Because when we try to see the world through the compassionate eyes of our Father, we allow ourselves to be surprised by the wonder working ways of the Spirit.

And we get to see one another as beautiful children of God
-each with their own uniqueness,
-each with their very own “je ne sais quoi,”
-each made whole in the eyes of God.

For that we can be thankful and for that we can say “Amen.”

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