Rev. George Miller
Feb 17, 2013
As a church, we have entered the Season of Lent. A somber period of reflection designed to confront one’s own mortality while journeying with Jesus to the cross...
…Of course, this week the world also exploded in pink and red decorations proclaiming “Happy Valentines Day! Eat as much candy as you can!”
Death and romance- an odd pairing. Or are they? In some ways are not mortality and love two of life’s most powerful experiences?
Mortality reminds us that no matter how much we accomplish, no much how much stuff we accumulate, we are all going to die.
Then, as the Beatle’s proclaimed nearly 50 years ago “Love is all you need.”
Valentine’s Day leads me to think about one of my favorite films called “Overboard.”
“Overboard” is a screwball comedy from the 80’s starring Goldie Hawn. Though it’s not perfect, it’s a film that makes me laugh, cry, and at the end, to feel good about the world.
For those who’ve seen “Overboard” and for those who haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis:
Goldie Hawn plays a rich, spoiled heiress who is used to having her way and being waited on hand and foot. She is surrounded with all the material comforts one can want, but it’s clearly not “enough.”
Her unhappiness comes through in the way she orders people around, complains about the quality of caviar and has a comment for everything she encounters.
One day, she falls off of her yacht and is washed ashore with amnesia. A former worker of hers tricks Goldie into thinking she is his wife and the mother of his kids.
During the course of the film, she goes about trying to recall who she is while having to do things like wash dishes, clean clothes, cut wood and care for a turtle.
A transformation takes place in Goldie’s character. She falls in love with the three boys. She stands up for them when their teacher claims they are not smart or good enough.
She takes part in creating a miniature golf-course for the community. She dances the night away at the local tavern, enjoying a $7 bottle of champagne. She gets excited when she’s given a new washer for her birthday.
The thing that most satisfies her is when she’s reading a book with the youngest boy and he reaches behind the seat cushion to surprise her with a macaroni necklace which he made for her at school.
Previously, she was a woman who surrounded herself with caviar, yachts and servants, yet was unhappy.
Now she was living in a run down home with leaky ceilings, doing daily chores, wearing a necklace made out of pasta, and it was “enough.”
Sometimes we have to almost lose ourselves to find out who we really and truly are…
…For those who have been worshipping with us for the past year, we’ve talked quite a bit about the word “enough”.
It started when we heard a message about abundant life, and came to find out that another word for abundant is “enough.”
So when Jesus says that we will have abundant life, he’s not making the claim that we will be surrounded by caviar, yachts, and servants, but that we will have a life surrounded by the things that make life worth living.
Since that sermon, I’ve experienced the notion of “enough” unfold in terms of time, family, finances and friends in my own life.
As a congregation we have corporately witnessed this- the new members we have welcomed, the kitchen remodeling we’ve approved, the programs begun, and the stewardship taking place.
It’s by embracing the fact that we have “enough” that we have come to discover that in Christ we now have plenty.
This notion of “enough” also exists in today’s reading. After Jesus is baptized he is whisked away to the wilderness by the Spirit. This will be the time in which Jesus forms his identity and his mission.
For 40 days he eats nothing and is famished. The devil speaks to him, goading him to turn stone into bread, to seek power, and to test God. Though famished, Jesus does not fall or compromise.
There is a word in today’s reading which really jumps out: famished. What a strong word filled with possibilities. Famished is not just hungry; it’s not just a 4 pm rumbling in the tummy.
Famished is a sense of being completely empty; without. Famished is a sense of loss; a lacking that can almost not be fulfilled.
Here we have Jesus, who is famished. Think of how completely radical that theological claim is-that Jesus, who we claim to be fully human and fully divine could possibly by lacking for anything.
Yet that’s what we are told- that Jesus was famished. Famished for what? After 40 days in the wilderness, alone, I’d assume he is famished for more then just food.
He must be famished of sound- to hear another’s voice. Famished of sight- to see something more then sand and scrub brush. Famished of touch- to feel another’s skin upon his.
Jesus is famished, and that’s when the devil appears, trying to use the senses that Jesus has been famished for.
The devil’s voice would have been the first voice Jesus’ famished ears would have heard. To be so secluded, anything spoken would have sounded like music.
For someone famished of food, to turn stone into bread would have been a treat, a Panera Paradise of croissants and bagels galore.
For someone famished of sight, to be shown all the kingdoms of the world-with their glittering of silver and gold, their vast architecture, would have been a sight to behold, like standing in EPCOT’s World Pavilion.
For someone famished of touch, to be told that he would feel the touch of angels’ hands upon his skin as they bore him up…
How could anyone who is so sensory famished of all those things say no?
My only guess is that in God, Jesus felt like he had already been given “enough.”
That even in his famished state there was nothing the devil could offer- no amount of caviar, no amount of yachts, no amount of servants- that could come close to the treasure he already had in God.
This is a story that speaks to us because we live in a world that thrives on telling us we are famished; that there is happiness to be found in the right car, the right house, and the right restaurant.
We live in a world in which we all feel famished from time to time.
Famished for the one’s we have lost. Famished for the days long gone by.
Famished for the way things were and for the way things never did end up being.
Famished for when our health was much better. Famished for eyes that could see, ears that could hear and bodies that did not creak, groan or moan when we got out of bed.
Famished for kind words to be said; famished that someone cared enough to listen.
Famished for whatever sound, taste, sight or touch we are not currently receiving.
Everyone is famished for something, and as we start our Lenten journey with Jesus, we discover that he was famished too.
And that is a deep thought.
Last week, Psalm 99 told us that God is exalted and holy, a king, awesome in name. Today, we get another view.
We encounter an incarnational God who is hungry, who is vulnerable, who is without. Who is famished and capable of being tempted. That’s deep.
What this means for us is at least two things. That temptation is universal to the human experience. So if Jesus himself could be tempted, so can we.
It means that all of us, no matter how holy or perfect we may be, will come across situations in which we can easily turn from God and give into the ways of the world.
But it also means something else- that in Jesus we can find a way to turn from those temptations, to stand up to principalities, to not give in when we are the most vulnerable, and feel that we have been tossed overboard.
One way is by realizing that no matter how famished we may feel, that in God we do have enough. That in God we have been given what we need.
That in God we have everlasting arms in which we can lean, as weary as we are.
That in God we do have an advocate, because Jesus himself shared in our common life; the same toil, the same dangers, and the same snares.
Because of this when we find ourselves famished and temptations coming our way, Jesus shows us how we can find that inner strength and trust that God is indeed enough.
In conclusion, sometimes we have to almost lose ourselves to find out who we truly are.
We have entered into the reflective season of Lent in which we discover that it will not be the caviar, yachts or servants that bring us happiness, but the simpler, truer things like community, family, and hand-crafted macaroni necklaces.
This is a time for us to confront the reality of our own mortality, to embrace what is true, and truly matters.
During the course of the next 40 days, as we find ourselves tossed overboard, as we encounter our own wilderness, as we forget who we are and feel our own famishedness-
-may we also find the blessed peace that comes with the knowledge that Christ has already lit the path for our hearts and that in God we have each found our own “enough.”
Amen and amen.