The Impossible Dream
THESE ARE HARD WORDS
Please read the following scriptures before proceeding.
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 and Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 • 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 and Psalm 16 • Galatians 5:1, 13-25 • Luke 9:51-62
What does it mean to say yes?
A young bride stood in front of her husband to be. Unknown to him she had changed the vows. She looked into his eyes and quoted a well know passage of scripture. As she spoke tears came to his eyes for he understood what she was saying. Forty years later that same woman looked into her husbands eyes and said, I didn’t understand what those words meant. I am leaving.
In the passage of scripture Elisha the young man, about to enter the ministry of a prophet, asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elisha wanted to be able to do what his predecessor was able to do plus more. Elijah the prophet said, “You have asked a hard thing.”
Most Seminaries now have internship programs. Candidates for doing ministry must participate in a special form of ministry. Then these interns are declared acceptable. I called the seminary one day and asked for an intern to be assigned to the work I was doing. I was told no seminarian was willing to go. I said I will match the pay, no one will be shorted. No, Carl, you do not understand. No one wants to do what you are doing. You see every potential intern wrote down they wanted to go to a middle or upper middle class church where they could be more comfortable. There would be no prestige working with you. I can’t find anyone to work with you.
The apostle Paul in Galatians reflects on the what is called the fruit of the spirit. When a person lives reflecting the fruit of the spirit Paul likens this to dying to oneself. In some way it is pealing one’s identity off and putting on a new identity. It goes beyond being a servant. It is what Elijah said, it is a hard thing. It is what Jesus identified as a life without promises.
Elisha the young prophet would have to learn. The young seminarians will have to learn.
As a global community we are sitting on the precipice of a catastrophe. The doomsday clock was recently moved 3 minutes ahead. What that means is that forces begin to take place that need to be halted. The presidential campaign in the United States illustrates how out of control this battle is. Elisha was being warned. We don’t even have to hear the words of a prophet and we clearly hear how values based on the fruit of the spirit are suspended, care for human needs take a back seat not just to profits but the maintenance of comfort zones for a select group of people. This is not about socialism or capitalism. This is not just about the United States, this is a global tragedy where instead of leaders choose to rise to the highest values of a society they instead succumb to the lowest values of valueless thugs. Both economic systems have become defunct and are now subservient to greed and dominance.
Elijah said, you have asked for a hard thing. You will not be able to pretend that everything will come out in the wash. Jesus was asked, can I have some time off, I have important business to deal with. Jesus bluntly replied, the dead will have to bury the dead.
Wow, these have been hard words.
Everyday in our sarcoidosis groups our people are confronted with the need to make decisions. Ours is a group with a disease no-one seems to know where it came from, and no one seems to know how to stop it. In the name of the cure we build bigger hospitals, bigger research labs, create more pills, and ultimately see what we create caving in on itself as it begins to compete with itself. The cost to maintain the system now out runs the ability to cover the cost of treatment. Will we choose to make a difference or will we choose to not be a part of the corrective course?
Elisha representing the future of the prophetic school, full of hope and energy said I want a double portion. I want to go out and kick butt. I will lead the charge.
THESE ARE HARD WORDS.
Who Will Answer
Morning Prayer: Lord God too many times I have not been willing to answer. My prayer is not a prayer of repentance it is a prayer calling out for help. I feel crippled, held back, unwilling to move ahead, to willing to say it is just me, I cannot fight this battle alone. I am part of a people willing to settle for second best. Help me Lord to become more like Elisha, in my ignorance, help me to step forward, help me to march into the battle where even angels fear to tread. Lord I believe that is what the cross was all about. It was not about the dying it was about the rising. It is the climbing above and moving onward. Amen.
Take my Life and let it be
Lord God today is a special day. It is Father’s Day. I want to say nice things about father’s. Only recently it was revealed to me that I had blocked out years of my own life due to the violence perpetuated by my father. Growing up I was taught values to respect both my parents even though they had lifestyles contrary to being respectful. In the scriptures today the tension between good and evil becomes paramount. In the midst of this uncertainty goodness, truth, kindness, and other solid values are alluded to as the cement that holds our lives together. Lead us in worship. Help us not to mask the truth, but help us to live by a stronger truth that radiates from your ways. Amen
Hymn: Oh Worship the King
Chris Tomlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E280L4wNs0s
Hymn: Come, Now is the Time to Worship
A Confession of uncertainty…
I met a person this week who was very angry…
I met a person this week who was compassionate and gentle…
I met a person this week who argued at the drop of a dime…..
I met a person this week who simply walked into my life with a gentle hug….
I met a person this week who proclaimed all was evil and God would burn everyone to hell…
I met a person who prayed for peace and patience of God…
We live in uncertainty, we live in moments of paradox.
In this uncertainty oh God cause the seed that has been planted within us to reflect you.
Let us be the person others meet to understand your certainty in this shaken world.
Please read the scriptures before reading the meditation.
Click here to be linked http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=267
1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a and Psalm 42 and 43 • Isaiah 65:1-9 and Psalm 22:19-28 • Galatians 3:23-29 • Luke 8:26-39
Title: THAT JUST ISN’T THE POINT
The scriptures are powerful today. There is a milieu of a reality so strong that at times it is difficult to see a ray of hope. It is scary to see this kind of darkness. In some points it is so dark one’s mind automatically looks for hope.
Even Elijah finds himself running away. God reminds Elijah it is not about running away. It is time to get back to work. 40 days, 40 nights the scripture tells us he withdrew. Then the Lord asked him, “are you done yet?” what are you doing here? I am all alone said Elijah.
How often do we see “evil” battling “good” all around us.
In the USA there have always been comparisons about how wonderful the political, educational and medical systems are. They may not be perfect but we are along way ahead of others people would say. What we believed was so good has now become so oppressive. Growing up it seemed easy for religious leaders to identify with politicians and say God is blessing us. Now however it seems the systems sneer at the morality and the ethics of the Biblical narrative.
Many of our churches and religious leaders talk about being user friendly churches. Don’t ruffle the feathers, don’t create to much drama. It is as if God is saying, Elijah what are you doing here? Churches, Christians, what are you doing here? Elijah says I will just go over there, I will get away from them. Many churches today are saying the same thing. Let us build a fortress and get away from them. We will just go over there. Elijah says let me die. Many say, come Lord rapture us away from this evil world.
The Psalmist echoes Elijah’s moaning. The Psalmist hears the enemy saying “Where is your God?” The Psalmist speaks from the depth of a wound that cuts to the chase. So often in our support groups, people are suffering from unknown illness with unknown causes. People are wanting to cry out in victory only to see the battle intensify. The pain becomes unbearable. Medications, medical wisdom, these words only block out any vision of hope. Go home, go home and die is the mantra of our world. The Psalmist contemplating what is happening in his world has thoughts like Elijah and finds himself reminded that the battles about life are often dark and serious.
The Psalmist hears God say now look within, have your soul seek God and live. Know that the intensions of God are about life.
Elijah, Psalmist understand your pain, the reality of the battle is real. God would remind them about what they are saying. THAT JUST ISN’T THE POINT. There is a different way.
The writings of a number of the prophets and many of the Psalms echo a downside to life. It would be easy to write off the downside if it didn’t just keep popping up.
The prophet Isaiah was often identified as a good times preacher but even here Isaiah speaks of God standing off in the wings. The religious guru’s continue to then keep leading people astray.
I think there are times when I want the religious guru’s to be right, I want the politicians to be right. I want all the good things that are being promised to happen. It just isn’t true. The promises are often empty and reflect the whims of the people rather then the wisdom of God.
These promises often ignore that we are in a battle for the life and death of society, of God’s creation. Again the Psalmist turns us to God and celebrates truths. As we walk with God our lives discover a balance and opens us up to receive not just the blessings of God but the salvation of God.
We find a way of faith. The Apostle moves us from the harshness of discipline to the gentleness of the Spirit. This gentleness of the Spirit opens us to the Magna Carta of living in God’s Grace. Human distinctions are removed. All people are people. Years ago as we worked with young people we were told to write a report saying we were working with this many males, females, what color they were, what their backgrounds were. I wrote my report. We work with people. I got a letter back. You must have misunderstood. We say people qualify for different kind of help because of who they are. I said I understood completely. We work with people. We make no distinction. All people qualify to participate and share in society equal. It is just that simple.
Each day those same words about exclusionary principles are repeated. Each day we find labels that exclude people from medical help. Each day we hear people say I would rather die. Each day the attitudes of the prophet are echoed. Each day people say, they are all against me, I am all alone.
Each day the truth of this simple message still stands: That just isn’t the point. In the midst of the darkness we are called to stand for life.
Doctor Luke tells us a simple story. A man was filled with demons. Jesus told the demons to leave the man. They did. The man got on with living. I think that is what this whole thing is about.
One day my telephone rang. I need your help came the voice. I am going to a counselor and I don’t know if I can trust the person. I asked if you could come with me. The counselor said you could. Please come. I had all the reasons in the world for not going, including professional courtesy. The caller said I was told you could come! I didn’t want to go. Then very clearly the voice came. Carl no matter what you think THAT JUST ISN’T THE POINT. I went. The counselor met me, welcomed me and said all I ask is you assess my work in front of my client. The session continued. At one point the counselor asked why do you have so many negative thoughts? Why do you give in to them. My friend said they just keep coming. The counselor asked who’s voice are you listening to? An evil voice my friend said. The counselor said why don’t you tell the voice to leave. I did, but it comes back. I keep saying just leave me alone. The counselor asked why don’t you send the voice home. Just tell it to go home. It is the devil’s voice, it is evil’s voice. Go home and leave him alone. Then out of the blue the counselor said Devil Hell is your home now leave and go to hell. That is where you belong. I started to laugh. My friend started to laugh. The counselor said why are you laughing? My friend said I don’t hear the voice. The counselor looked at me. I continued to laugh. I said thank you. I gave the counselor a big hug and said to my friend, it is time to go home.
Perhaps that is what this entire set of scriptures is about. It is time to recognize what all this negative jargon in our world is about. Perhaps it is time to recognize where it comes from. Perhaps it is time to tell it to go home, to go to hell.
Closing: Matthew West My Name is Regret
You Are (Colton Dixon) http://www.hearitfirst.com/…/10-of-the-best-male-voices-in-…
Burden Me (Jeremy Camp http://www.hearitfirst.com/…/10-of-the-best-male-voices-in-…
Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath) https://www.youtube.com/watch…
Please clic to find and read the Biblical text before you read the meditation Intentional Faith. http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=266
1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a and Psalm 5:1-8 • 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 andPsalm 32 • Galatians 2:15-21 • Luke 7:36-8:3
For a moment think about something that all of a sudden stands in front of you and you know you have to act. What principles can guide you so you are not left standing alone and unto your own devices?
There are five images of intentional faith in the scripture today.
1. Elijah was prompted by the evil actions of King Ahab. Ahab asked Elijah “how did you find me?’
It was as if Elijah speaks in today’s vernacular; I can support you, God can overlook your ambitions, your self centered nature doesn’t matter, God will just blink at your willingness to give into your wife’s deceitfulness. NOT! Elijah was right there, he did not have to go on a campaign to look for Ahab. Elijah simply spoke to Ahab about what was right in front of both of them, Ahab’s behavior was evil. Elijah spoke about living in the NOW. This is about NOW.
2. The Psalmist cries out. Lord hear my sighing, my crying, hear my voice, lead me NOW. It is a simple thought. My world is upside down. I must seek right living NOW.
3. Nathan loved David. Who didn’t. He was considered the apple of God’s eye. Nathan walked with David. Nathan was broken with David. Nathan in the midst of his own pain had to explain why he felt such pain. It is NOW David. You have spurned the love of God, the blessings of God, please David turn. There is no greater time to act then NOW.
4. Paul was no stranger to controversy. Paul was no stranger to intentionality. He found himself bound to doing right. He discovered he was so bound to being right he was wrong. He found he had to simply lay down his cross and let Jesus live through him. Now Paul, the Spirit would say. It is okay Paul, let the cause go. This is about living NOW Paul.
5. A woman. Jesus must have been something in his day. People talked about him, wondered about him, made plans around him, and even interrupted their own lives just to see him. Here was a woman, something was stirred inside of her. She walked away from her activities of life. She brought the oil to anoint Jesus. She began to cry, the secrets of her soul cried out to her. She knew it was now or never.
A TIME FOR PRAYER:
Lord there are those moments in our lives when we know it is about now or never. Lord there are those activities around us that demand our thoughts, our intentions and the activity of our faith. Lord our world needs us to be intentional. May we like Elijah recognize what we are uncomfortable about. May we like the Psalmist hear the inner angst of our soul. May we with Nathan weep over the vision of those we love. May we with Paul experience discernment about our direction. Then Lord may we with this lady address our passion and hope for the future. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Closing Song: Come Alive