Ordinary 16C – July 21, 2019

Luke 10:38-42, Amos 12

A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet. So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet. After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede, (100-legged bug), which came in a little white box to use for his house. He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to church with him.So he asked the centipede in the box, “Would you like to go to church with me today? We will have a good time.”But there was no answer from his new pet. This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked again, “How about going to church with me and receive blessings?”But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. So he waited afew minutes more, thinking about the situation. The guy decided to invite the centipede one last time.This time he put his face up against the centipede’s house and shouted,“Hey, in there! Would you like to go to church with me and learn about God?”This time, a little voice came out of the box, “I heard you the first time! I’m putting my shoes on!”

When I read Luke continuously, I suspect that Martha and Mary follow the Good Samaritan for a reason. Love God with all your heart soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Easy enough to preach the Good Samaritan and neighbor identification.  In effect, be a Martha. Yet many of the folks in the pews might identify themselves with the good church people who bypass the man in the ditch, and they also identify with Mary. Be a Mary. You can preach love of neighbor and love of God with integrity, but it is hard to do it in the same sermon or even back to back. Good luck with this. If it has you worried, imagining how my listeners will hear it worried me. Maybe worry is a point. Not to worry, do.

Fresh out of business school, the young man answered a want ad for an accountant. Now he was being interviewed by a very nervous man who ran a small business that he had started himself. “I need someone with an accounting degree,” the man said. “But mainly, I’m looking for someone to do my worrying for me.” “Excuse me?” the young accountant said, “I worry about a lot of things,” the man said. “But I don’t want to have to worry about money. Your job will be to take all the money worries off my back.” “I see,” the young accountant said. “And how much does the job pay?” “I will start you at $95,000.” “Ninety-five thousand dollars!” the young accountant exclaimed. “How can such a small business afford a sum like that?” “That,” the owner said, “is your first worry.”

I once preached the Amos text and ended by taking a bite out of a juicy peach, a summer fruit perfectly in season. A story that holds up only with superficial fact-checking:

The great Southern rock band of my college days was the Allman Brothers Band. They were at their zenith when their amazing guitar player Duane Allman went for a ride on his motor cycle. Duane was struck and killed by a peach truck. A year later, the bass player Berry Oakley was struck and killed by a peach truck while riding his motor cycle. The next album the band produced was entitled, Eat a Peach.

Have a great week. – Laurin

 

Ordinary 14C – July 7, 2019

2 Kings 5

In the United States, this Sunday falls immediately after our national day of celebration. The story of Namaan might be used to challenge preconceived ideas, particularly when we conflate nationalism with faith.

Some humor to begin:

Ending his sermon, a preacher announced that he would preach on Noah and the Ark on the following Sunday, and gave the scriptural reference for the congregation to read ahead of time.

A couple of boys noticed something interesting about the placement of the story in the Bible. They slipped into the church and glued two pages of the pulpit Bible together.

The next Sunday, the preacher got up to read his text. “Noah took unto himself a wife,” he began, “and she was” – he turned the page to continue – “three hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high.”

He paused, scratched his head, turned the page back, read it silently, and turned the page again.

Then he looked up at his congregation and said, “I’ve been reading this old Bible for near fifty years, but there are some things in it that are hard to believe.”

source unknown

The story of Namaan suggests a few ideas that we may indeed find hard to believe:

  • God gives victory to our enemies.
  • God speaks through foreign children.
  • Right worship does not require the mega-church or particular church.

Once, when I preached on this, we were self-evicted from our premises while an environmental hazard was being cured, our leprosy. We were given refuge in the Methodist church down the street. We took no dirt, as that was the reason for our seeking refuge.

The child in our story has been captured and enslaved, but I wonder how we might use the story to speak through the children at our border.

Have a blessed week – Laurin