Friday, September 21, 2012

Sermon from Sept 15, 2012; Isaiah 50:4-9

Rev. George Miller
Isaiah 50:4-9
“The Eternalness of God”
Sept 15, 2012

I have a joke I’d like to share, about Forrest Gump. I don’t agree with its theology but I appreciate its humor.

On the day Forrest Gump died, he went up to heaven and was greeted by St. Peter.

“Welcome Forrest,” St. Peter said. “Before you can enter in I just have three simple questions to ask you. First question: how many days are in a week?”

Forrest thought and thought, and once he was ready, Forrest replied “Well sir, I believe the answer is three.”

“Three?” said St. Peter.

“Yes sir,” said Forrest, all polite like his Mama taught him, “Yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

“Well,” said St. Peter, “That wasn’t the answer we were aiming for, but I see no reason to disagree. Next question: how many seconds are there in a year?”

Forrest thought and thought, and then he thought some more. Forrest replied “Well sir, I reckon the answer would be 12.”

“12!” said St. Peter. “Now Forrest you got to tell me how you came to that conclusion.”

“Yes sir,” said Forrest all polite, just like his Mama taught him. “There’s January 2, February 2, March 2, April 2…”

St. Peter scratched his head, “Why Forrest, I reckon you’re right.” (Someone St. Peter had become southern as well!) “I’ll let you have that one as well.”

“Third and final question: what is God’s first name?”

Forrest had an immediate smile. “Shoot, I know that one, sir: Andy.”

“Andy?” said St. Peter, “Now Forrest, you have got to tell me just why you think God’s first name is Andy.”

“Simple,” Forrest said, taking off his hat and breaking into song, “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own, and the love we share while we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

…I have a soft spot for characters like Forrest Gump. You know: the person who appears to be simple minded but is perhaps wiser then most.

The person who thinks differently, who seems eccentric, but when you stop and really think about what they’re saying, they actually have a point.

Rose Nyland from “Golden Girls” was such character, as was Phoebe Buffet from “Friends”.

My Grandmother was a lot like them. She had a unique way of saying and doing things that could make her come across as air-headed, but the truth was that she was so brilliant she saw the world through a different set of lenses and acted accordingly.

I would also venture to say that almost every writer and hero in the Bible saw the world much differently then most.

They had to, otherwise they wouldn’t have done things like stand up to Pharaoh and his army, believe they could rebuild the Temple or follow a middle-aged homeless man all the way to the cross.

There are those who in their wisdom think there are seven days in the week, and there are those who in their wisdom believe there are only 3.

I think most of us fall somewhere in between.

What is wisdom anyway? Who is it that gets to decide what the right answer is and what is the wrong answer?

When is thinking outside the box the very thing that helps to build the box?

And when is thinking inside the box the very thing that destroys it?

The people of biblical times had a high esteem for wisdom. Knowledge was a currency that was valued among a certain folk.

In fact, for them wisdom was the ultimate experience of God. They believed that when you were learning, you were experiencing the Divine’s presence in a way that was unparalleled to any other.

That is why when some people met Jesus, when they experienced his teachings and heard his stories, they felt like they were encountering the Living Lord.

When Jesus would walk past, some would say “Behold the Wisdom of God.”

But the trouble is that God’s wisdom does not always match the world’s wisdom.

And the world’s wisdom does not always welcome God’s.

That’s part of what we encounter in today’s reading. The author of this passage is writing to a group of people who are experiencing the worst of times.

Nothing is going right.

This isn’t a case of “is the glass half full or half empty?”

It’s more like a case of “someone done took the glass, threw it against the wall and all the water has been dumped into the ground.”

Their situation seems hopeless and there is seemingly nothing they can do.

And the author of this passage is fully aware of this, in fact he is going through the same suffering they are.

Except for one difference: he believes that God is speaking to him. He believes that morning after morning, God is waking him with words to say.

Are they words that are to tell the people what to do?

Are they specific instructions as to how to get out of their dilemma?

No, they are simply words that are meant to sustain the weary.

They are simply words to give the people something to believe in.

They are simply words to remind them that somehow, someway this too will pass.

Maybe the glass can not be repaired, but it doesn’t mean another sort of glass can’t come along, waiting to be filled…

Has anyone ever felt like this?

That you come to a place in your life in which you feel like the glass you knew, the glass you’ve held onto, has been shattered against the wall?

Have you ever come to the place where you are weary? In which you feel like you can not do one more single thing?

Have you ever come to a place in which you just want to let the dishes pile up in the sink and the trash to wait another day before its put out?

We all do.

The reasons can be many.
-We’re exhausted from working a long week.
-We’re exhausted from trying to help out another.
-We’re exhausted from trying to hold things together.

We all do. I know I do.

And you know, those are the times where really nothing can be done by anyone to truly make a difference.

That’s when I’m the most thankful for church.

Those have been the times when I most needed to go to church, to be surrounded by other people, to hear the minister preach a word, to hear the choir sing a song.

Those are the days where I just want to be reminded of the hard-to-believe, unrealistic accounts of the way that God intercedes and the ways that God acts.

How God can keep a widow’s flour jar from ever running out.

How God can hold back the waters of the Jordan so the people can cross.

How God can bring forth a nation from an infertile couple.

How God can take the darkness of chaos and with three simple words bring forth a brand new world.

If God could do all those things, who is to say what God can or can not do?

That knowledge, that wisdom, is what gives Isaiah the ability to speak out; that is what allows him to offer the people hope.

With no magic tricks up his sleeve, with no long-term solution plan, the most he can do is to remind the people of the eternalness of God.

The most he can do is to remind the people that God is indeed still speaking.

And in doing so, he provides them a sense of comfort, he provides them a sense of peace, he provides them with a source of strength.

In conclusion, there is a lot about our faith that does not always make sense. There is a lot about our faith that does not seem to always solve our problems.

But there is enough about our faith to remind us and to assure us that we are not alone, we are not forsaken, nor are we forgotten.

And sometimes this knowledge is enough to give us hope, to give us something to believe in, and to trust that there will be a tomorrow.

That God walks with us
And he talks with us
And he tells us that we are his own.

And sometimes that is enough, even when the wisdom of the world wants us to believe that it is not.

This week, may God
give power to the faint,
strength to the powerless
and for those that wait on the Lord,
may they be lifted up on eagle’s wings,
able to rise above whatever situations they may be facing.

For that we can say amen and amen.

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