Monday, July 23, 2012

Sermon for July 22, 2012; 2 Samuel 7:1-17

Rev. George Miller
2 Samuel 7:1-17
“God’s Time”
July 22, 2012

Once there was a high-powered city woman named Samantha whose life hit a rough patch, so she ran away to the country. She found comfort by taking cooking lessons from a woman named Iris.

Iris taught Samantha how to make bread, combining yeast, warm water, melted butter and flour and then kneading the dough.

The process allowed Samantha to work out some of her stress, but she was still so caught up in her baggage from the past that she couldn’t connect to the now and it was making her angry.

“That’s enough kneading,” Iris said, taking the dough, patting it into a round shape.

“Now what?” asked a frustrated Samantha. “Shall I put it into the oven?”

“Not yet,” said Iris, as she placed the dough in a bowl and covered it with a towel. “Now we wait.”

“Wait?” Samantha said, staring at her, “What do you mean wait?”

“We wait; about half an hour.”

“But,” said Samantha, “What are we waiting for?”

“For the yeast to rise and work its magic on the dough. Underneath the towel a small miracle is happening.”

Samantha, wound up tight; used to being in control of life’s every minute said “I’m sorry, I can’t do this; I can’t just sit around waiting for yeast to get its act together!”

Wisely ignoring her temper tantrum, Iris distracted Samantha by having her shell some bean pods. It worked, and soon Samantha found her restlessness dissipating.

After the beans were done, they went back to the dough, kneading it into loaves and waiting another half hour. Samantha didn’t mind so much this time. They listened to music and hulled strawberries.

At the right time the dough went into the oven, and the two women sat at a table outside, enjoying a tray of cheese, strawberries, and pleasant conversation.

Iris went inside and when she came back she told Samantha to hold out her hands and close her eyes. Samantha felt something warm with a yeasty smell being placed in her hands. She opened her eyes to see a loaf of bread, plump and golden brown.

“Tell me that’s nothing,” Isis said. “You made that; you should be proud of yourself.”

Samantha was. At that moment all her worries over wasted time were gone and she felt like right now was the only thing worth holding on to.

She was in the process of “becoming”.


We all share the same sixty seconds, the same sixty minutes, and the same 24 hours of each day.

How we experience those seconds, minutes, hours can depend on so many things: our age, our personality, our sense of mortality.

For some, time is an unlimited resource that can be burned away, to have fun with (show a clip from Ke$ha’s music video “Tik Tok”).

For some time is something to hold dear and treasure (clip of “As Time Goes By’ from Casablanca).

For others, time is something to be left frazzled, rushed and overwhelmed by (clip of “I’m Late” from Disney’s cartoon Alice in Wonderland).

Time, to be squandered. Time, to be treasured. Time, to be enslaved to.

Time is a concept the biblical writers knew about all too well. In fact they had two different words for time: chronos and kyros.

Chronos is the time fabricated by humans; the clock we imprison ourselves with that say we have to be up at 7, lunch at 12, and dinner by 6.

Kyros is much different. Kyros is God’s time. It’s the unfolding of history and God’s actions in our lives at God’s pace, in God’s wisdom, not dependent upon our clocks or calendars.

Kyros time is akin to the time it takes for yeast in a bowl to make the dough rise. It can not be controlled, forced or made to fit into our allotted time slot.

It can mean 7 days to create, 40 years in the wilderness, or 3 days in the tomb.

We experience kyros time in today’s reading. King David is coming off of a professional high. He’s not only King, but he’s now brought the ark of the Lord into the center of the city.

Everything about David says he is a success and that God is with him.

But is King David finished yet? Is he ready to rest? No; he wants to do more.

He wants to make God a temple, a house of worship to place the ark of the Lord in.

It sounds like a great idea: a magnificent edifice to show to the entire world how wonderful God is and what God has done.

King David talks to Nathan, his pastor, and Nathan says “Sure thing! Let’s start right away with those building plans.”

Trouble is, neither David nor Nathan stopped to pray about it or to wonder what God would think.

Well, that night, God let it be known. God gives Nathan as message to pass onto David, revealing a very different time line.

God says “Why do you think I need a house right now? I’ve been doing things just fine, moving about in complete freedom, bringing the people out of Egypt, taking you out of your dead-end job, being wherever you are.”

“I’m fine,” says God. “Instead of worrying about what you can build for me, let me build for you instead; an amazing legacy and a glorious time of peace.”

“When the time is right, I’ll have one of your offspring build a place for me. He’ll be like a son and I’ll establish his place in history forever…But now is not the time.”

You have to wonder why, when David was all good and ready, pumped and excited to build God a temple that God said, “No.”

We’re never told. My guess is that David had already done enough, securing for himself a place in history.

He had brought together a kingdom, success of every kind, and just recently was the grand marshal of a parade that brought the ark into town.

That’s “enough” accomplishments for one man to claim. To add “builder of the Lord’s House” to David’s resume would have been too, too much.

His head would have swollen up, his ego would have expanded and pretty soon people would start to see him as a god.

Instead, God encourages David to sit back, relax, and enjoy the miracle of what they have accomplished together and to trust that at the right time, one of David’s kin will do the job.

David is free to squander or treasure his time. Perhaps learn golf, or bake bread.

Sounds good to me, but I can’t help detecting a sense of melancholy in this story. Basically David is being made to reckon with the reality that he will be long dead before his vision is fulfilled.

This is actually a common occurrence throughout the Bible. Abraham and Sarah are told their family will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and will bless all the families of the world.

But Sarah dies with having only given birth to one child, never to experience the joys of being the matriarch of a large extended family.

Moses was called to lead the people through the wilderness and into the Promised Land, but he himself never got to make it in.

After 40 years of leading, preparing and empowering the people, Moses only catches a glimpse of the Promised Land from a mountaintop before he dies.

Both Sarah and Moses played important roles in starting something big, but they never got to experience it themselves.

Same with David. He wanted so much to be the one to build a Temple for the Lord; instead he had to rest on the assurance that one of his children would do it one day.

On God’s time; on kyros time.

That’s such a hard concept; a concept that can hit us right where it hurts, in our sense of mortality. That we want to get things done, we want to see them through.

But faith doesn’t always work that way.

Faith is sometimes what we do knowing that we are only playing a part, trusting that God will finish the rest.

Faith is knowing that sometimes we will never see or be aware of the differences we have made in other’s lives…

…Faith is knowing that if what we are doing is truly for God and in the best interest of the Kingdom, then whatever we have done has not been in vain.

That’s an important thing to think about as we prepare for tomorrow’s Vacation Bible School, where we may have 12 children, we may have 4.

That’s an important thing to think about as we embark on our building committee, realizing that there’s always a chance that it may be voted down or that some people who are here today may not be alive to see it completed.

The recent deaths of Ruth, Carol and Tim Perry remind us of that.

But just because God’s time doesn’t always fit into our concept of time it does not mean that we stop, or give up or lose all hope.

Kind David didn’t. Sure, he never got to build the Temple, but his son Solomon did.

But there’s something even more important that happened. God did indeed build a new kind of kingdom through David’s kin.

And you know how God did that? Through Jesus Christ, born of Mary, raised by Jospeh, whose lineage could be traced back David. Sure it took generations to happen, but it did.

Instead of a stationary temple made of cedar and expensive ornaments, Jesus Christ became the everlasting, ever moving, ever present temple in which all the world would experience the presence of God.

Jesus who demonstrated through his life, death and resurrection that God can work through and beyond all concepts of time: the past, the now and the forever.

And when you think about it, King David not only played a role in creating God’s house, but many, many houses.

Look around today and realize that this house, our church, is a direct result of King David’s passion and faith, even if he did not live long enough to see it.

And what a great house God has given us.

In conclusion, as people of faith, we are often called to alter our concept of time; the “tik tok”, the “time goes by”, the “I’m late, I’m late” concepts that suit or needs or hold us back.

Instead, we are invited to experience the kyros time of God, the time that may not make sense but the time that is right.

To look up at the sun and moon and stars and feel a sense of timelessness, believing that our God is an “on time God” whose steadfast love is forever everlasting, whose miracles will never cease.

Like Samantha, like Sarah, like Moses and King David, we are all in the process of “becoming.”

Continuing to learn what is “enough”, how to grow in Christ and how to live in, not against, God’s own good time.

Amen and amen.

*story of Samantha and Iris taken from Sophie Kinsella’s novel The Undomestic Goddess, 2005; which can be found in our church’s library.*

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