Nobody here has ever quarreled with someone, have you? Never spoken ill of anyone? Never thought ill or evil of any one? Never had an evil thought about an individual or a group? Then my work here today is done! You can exit the building!
If this were only the case! I’d be unemployed, Jesus wouldn’t be necessary, and we could leave this place and let it grow up in weeds.
However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “that is not the case,” at least in my life and I would venture to say, not in yours either.
I like to hunt! Now 25 years ago I don’t think I would have said this from the pulpit, maybe I shouldn’t today but the more I thought about this passage, the more evident it became to me that what Jesus instructs of his disciple is a lot like the parts of a hunting trip.
I was six years old, scarred to death as I entered the large glass doors of the downtown YMCA. The smell of heat, sweat, and the clammy feeling that seemed to engulf the walls, which of course were that sandy brown and green surgical tile! Even at age 6 I began to think, this must be like a prison. My mother, who in her 85 years of life, still hates water, led me by the hand down the hallway to the foggy glass doors, with the letters POOL in large capital letters blazoned one the glass. I did not know what was on the other side!
Have you ever been to the grocery store, carrying a long, long list of items to prep for a dinner to conquer all dinners, completed shopping, driven home in the rain, taken all of the groceries inside, only to find you didn’t get a key ingredient for the meal you planned? Sometimes, we just miss something!
Have you ever been to a sporting event or game involving your favorite team and your favorite team is getting clobbered? Not a lot of fun, needless to say.
But at most sporting events these days, there is a lot of action going on around the game and one of those events is the cheering squad, or what us “old timers” call ‘cheerleaders’. Now, I’m not making a specific reference to the cute girls or the muscular boys, rather the excitement that a great cheering squad can muster. Loud, rhythmic, and excited. They bring you to the next level of anticipation and excitement. A good squad will make YOU want to join them! Run down on the field and be a part of them, even if your team is losing!
We are gifted with several stories in the Gospels, but this is one of the best gifts we receive! It is not often that we get a parable put out before us and then several verses later, we get an explanation! What a gift!
I have experienced so many levels of love in my life and over the past two and half years, I’m afraid to count the number of times. In less than seven days, I will be married to one of the most beautiful, kind-hearted, loving and gifted women I have ever known. For twenty-eight years, I was married to a woman I deeply loved! I have not one, but two congregations that I love with all of my heart, and I believe that love is mutual.
Just what happens when you lie? Usually if you are caught, there is punishment, embarrassment, fear, and often times, exile. We spend a great deal of time in our lives focused on the truth. We have heard countless times that “the truth shall set you free,” and in many cases, that is true. We live in a world where the truth is often called into question, “what is the truth?” “Is this real?” or is this “fake news?” We are constantly “on guard” for what is the truth.
If some of you are like me, the little bit of TV I watch is mindless! As is probably 90% of TV anyway, with the exception of Duke basketball and Chicago Cubs baseball. I find myself an evening or two a week watching something that is mindless, adventurous, and that I know will either be solved, or will end, usually with the bad guy in custody. I, like many other Americans want predictability! We want the process which is completed by the shrewd pursuance of evidence. We (or at least I) get hooked on those shows. I think most of us possess a keen desire to follow the evidence until the mystery is solved.
The week begins! The week of “church!” The week we have been waiting for nigh on 40 days!! The week, which at the end, we can eat chocolate, drink Coke again, and resume our mottled and mangled life that we had before our Lenten journey.