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Minding the Outlet Store Monday and Wednesdays at ComputerCorps in Carson City, Nevada


Preaching at the 11 AM services Sunday, December 9th at Valley Presbyterian Church in Bishop, California


 

 

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Entries in Love (2)

Thursday
Oct292015

Knowledge Puffs Up...Love Builds Up

“I know that.” Is there ever a good time to hear that response? Or say it? Do we worship what we know or what we love? How can we love others when we know better? 

Puffing or Building
a sermon by Rev. J. Christy Ramsey

originally “To Love Knowing or To Know Loving”
Preached at South Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church on October 18, 2015

A message based on I Corinthians 8:1-13 & Isaiah 6:1-8

 


Sermons also avaliable free on iTunes

 Thanks to edigitaltranscription.com for the following transcript, slightly updated. All errors are my own.

 

I can’t find it.  Can anyone tell me when intermission is?  Why don’t we have an intermission?  I mean, Søren Kierkegaard, great big brain, big, big mind in the church, said that worship is a drama.  Now, he said it to make the point that, in that drama, we are the performers.  We are the ones putting on the show, and the audience is God, not the other way around.  But still, I mean, come on.  Intermission, why not?

Now, I know some of you, and I know who you are, you don’t have to raise your hands, some of you are saying, well, if we had intermission, he went on for another hour.  And then it’s a two-hour worship here or something.  Well, that’s not it, either.  Intermission is very important.  I don’t know if you go to the same place I do, but I think intermission gets more billing than the actual play you’re going to see.  They come out and say, “There will be one 15-minute intermission, 45 minutes into the play, and we will have refreshments out in the lobby, and we will be selling tickets for our next performance over there, and we’ll be doing this, and some of the cast members will be out there for autographs.”  You hear more about the intermission than about the play you came to see.

Why don’t we have an intermission?  That’s a mystery.  But some of you that may have studied this, maybe taken one of them courses you got here about worship, would tell me that, well, there’s no intermission in Isaiah 6.  Yes, friends and neighbors, I do speak of the Bible now and then during a sermon.  I know it’s hard to check, but there it is.  Isaiah 6, as well as being the commission to Isaiah, is also our touchstone, is our basis, our outline, our reference text to what we do in worship.  In Isaiah 6 you see the things that are in worship, right there in Isaiah.

The first thing that we have is adoration and praise and singing and glory, which is what we do.  We have prayer of adoration.  We have a hymn of praise.  We have all these things.  And that’s right there in Isaiah.  And the next thing that happens, did you catch it?  When they get into the presence of God, and they’re singing about the praise and how wonderful God is, and everything glorious, it occurs to Isaiah, as it occurs to every right-thinking human being, what in the world am I doing here?  I have no right to be here.  I haven’t done everything right.  In fact, I’ve done some things wrong.  I am not allowed to be here.  I should not be here.  I am not worthy.

And there it is, in Isaiah, and in our bulletin under the Prayer of Confession.  We are not worthy to be here in this praiseful room with the awesome God that we have.  And the same thing happens in our bulletin that happened in Isaiah.  As soon as we say that, as soon as we say we’re not worthy, we don’t get an argument.  We get forgiveness.  That hot coal comes down off and burns away the sin.  And that is the assurance of the declaration of pardon.  And that’s right in there.

And then the next thing that comes is the invitation, is the question, is the commission, saying we’ve got work to do.  We’ve got things to do.  We have a mission to attend to.  We have people in need.  We have a world that’s hurting.  What are we going to do?  And if things go well, worship doesn’t stop there.  But it goes with Isaiah and us saying, “Here am I.  Send me.”  And that’s the commission and the benediction.  No intermission.  But plenty of drama.  And God is the audience.

What about other worship?  Have you been to other types of worship services?  Contemporary worship?  Some people say all they do is get in, start singing and yelling, and it’s a half hour of yelling and words coming out and praise music and all this.  And then the minister comes out and talks and talks.  Then they have the offering and they go home.  You barely see anything else.  So they call it “hoot and toot, loot and scoot.”  That’s very unfair, but I can’t resist that.  No intermission there, either.

And we argue about worship, don’t we.  There’s not a whole lot in Isaiah so we say, well, this is it.  This is the way it is.  We know how it’s been done.  We like to say that, don’t we?  We Presbyterians, we know how it’s done.  We know the way the things go.  We know what is right.  Did you know that the oldest Presbyterian church, the oldest church in Chicago is Presbyterian?  Chicago was not settled by Presbyterians.  It was settled by Methodists.  But the Presbyterian was the only one that brought the book of church order.  He was the only one that brought the instructions for how to do church.  So they had no choice but to be Presbyterian.  That is our heritage.  We know how to do things.  We know how to do worship.  And if we don’t, we’ll have a committee to find out how to do it.  We’ll get it done.  We know stuff.

But we still argue about what we know and who’s right and who’s wrong.  Even the Presbyterian Church, you get four Presbyterians in the room, you get six or seven opinions.  It never matches up.  And you think that this scripture is about food offered to idols.  I mean, it says that right there in the scripture, “Food offered to idols.”  But it’s really about arguing and about knowing stuff.  And that goes on all through the history of the church.

I mean, I was trying to figure out, when do we have food sacrificed to idols so we could actually use this scripture?  The only thing I came up with was that, when they gather, for city wide ceremonies, at those great big round things.  They sacrifice food for those great anthropomorphic animals.  You know what I’m talking about?  They do it every week in the fall.  Football?  Tailgating?  I’m pretty sure that’s food sacrificed to idols.  Good food, brats and things.

But I don’t think we’re talking about tailgating.  I think we’re talking about arguing.  Oh, and we know about the arguing.  We know about that.  So you look at that arguing, it’s the way we argue now, isn’t it.  We don’t argue with, , a reasoned plan, a position paper, a study.  We don’t argue that way.  We may do it, but we don’t argue that way.  We don’t go out and, say, have a reasoned argument.  We don’t have a controlled study with a blind control group and figure out which is the best according to scientific approved and replicated methods.  We don’t do that.

I mean, just look at the so-called “debates.”  That’s not even a debate, it’s sound bites; isn’t it?  It’s how many of my slogans can I get into whatever the thing they said before, not necessarily answering the question, but getting my sound bite in.  Same thing here.  You see all them quotes in that scripture about we know idols have no existence, right there.  Quote.  We know that sacrificing meat to idols is wrong.  We know that there’s only – and then he brings out the big one.  An applause line, like “Let’s make America great again,” or “U.S.A.,” or “God bless America.”  I mean, when you said this to the crowd, the crowd went crazy?  He said The Shema:  We know there is one God.  There is only one God.   Everybody went, “Wow.”  He’s got sound bites in there.  And he says, “I know all these.”

So that’s how Paul argues.  He says all the sound bites going around– and adds his own.  Did you catch it?  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  That’s his sound bite.  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  One of the things I’m trying to stop in my own life, and I am, I’m working on it, I’m recovering, is – and I taught my children this, and they take it into their adult lives – is that there’s never a time when it’s necessary to say, “I know,” to someone.  You can just as easily say “Thank you.”  Even if you know stuff.  It’s not a competition.  It’s not a quiz.  You don’t say, “I know that.”  “Oh, I know that.”  The poor person’s trying to explain, trying to help you out, and you say, “I know” tossing away their help.

That’s what we’re talking about here.  Knowledge puffs up.  Love builds up.  How does that work out?  It’s hard.  Paul goes through and says don’t trip up other people by your knowledge.  Don’t be so knowledgeable.  Don’t be so right.  Don’t be so sure about everything that you destroy the community.

This works in any community. Wall Street, have you heard of it? Paper and shouting people are long gone. They’ve got computers, and they don’t even have people doing trades anymore.  It’s all computers.  And computers got so good, so fast, about how much computers know and all the data coming through and the bidding process, they actually had to slow down computers.  They knew too much.  And that knowledge was destroying the community known as the marketplace.  They knew too much.  Not just computers.  There’s insider trading, isn’t there?  You’re not allowed to know so much.  Because why?  It would destroy the community built up.

So, and this is even true in the financial world, not in just the spiritual world or church or in families or in persons, but also in the great, wonderful, capitalism system.  Knowledge builds up.  Knowledge puffs up.  Love builds up.  How does that work out?

Paul is really good at telling you what to do.  He’s big on that.  You go away or all that, he’ll tell you what to do.  He’s a great, great teller-doer.  But here, did you see the switch?  He goes, “We know this.  We know that.  We know these things.”  We, we, we, we, we.  And then he goes, “If you do this, if you do that, this happens.  If you….”  And then, strangely enough, he switches to “I.”  He gives all the stuff, the problem out there.  It’s a problem we all have.  And then he goes and says, “This is what I do.  Me.  This is how I work it out.  I don’t eat meat if it’s going to give a problem to other people.  I don’t do this if it’s going to cause someone to starve.  I don’t do this.”

He doesn’t say you had to do that.  Doesn’t say everybody had to do it.  Didn’t say that was the Christian way to do things.  He says, “This is the way I work it out.”  I find that great.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful, if we actually had that attitude, be as open as Paul?  What a concept.  Paul is not usually cited as someone that has a openness.  But he says: here’s a problem, and we admit it, and it’s there.  We are working on love, not on knowledge.  We’re working on building up, not puffing up.  And I’m just going to tell you what I do, and you can do however it works out for you.  I don’t do those things because it’s going to cause a problem to somebody else.

And I like that.  I like it when someone says there’s a problem, and the solution is what they do, not what everybody else should do.  Too often us Christians, we use our knowledge and tell everybody else what to do, instead of using the love that we have for others to inform on what we should do, what I should do.  This is how I work out my faith and my thing.  These are the things that are important to me.  These are the things I believe.  And this is how I live it out.  Anyone can do that.  We can all do that.

Well, that’s all great, Christy, but how about a story?  Okay.  Back in Rochester, Indiana, 96 miles north of Indianapolis, due north, 45 miles south of South Bend – somebody asked me where it was.  That’s where it was.  Still is, last I checked.  We had a pillar of the church die.  And it was in a family of pillars.  They were redwoods.  They were majestic.

It was like going to Muir Woods.  You ever been there?  You’ve got to go.  You go there, and the redwoods are everywhere.  And you look up, and you say, who am I?  These redwoods have been there hundreds of years.  Look at how majestic, how strong, how straight they are.  Who am I?  I’m just a flicker.

That’s the way I felt with this family.  I mean, they were there, holding up the church.  They were there before the church was there, and they’re going to be there after me.  I tell you, they were something to behold.  If there was an event, they were there.  If there was funds to be raised, they were given.  If they could go around to the church, and they wouldn’t, but they could say, “I built that.  I put in that staircase.  I put up that wall.”  Pillars.

And we were going to have the greatest funeral for one of them that you’ve ever seen.  We’re going to have the choir singing at the funeral.  We’re going to have the organ pull out all the stops!  We were going to have robes, and we were going to have marches, and we were going to have the best everything.  We were going to holy it all the way up.  It was going to be great.

So the family comes in, and I’m all ready for the worship to end all worship for this service.  We know how to do it, and we’re going to do it up right for this family, and it’s going to be great and honor her faith and her life.  We came.  The family came in.  The redwoods processed in.  And then comes someone I’ve never seen before.  Which is odd, because this family was there every Sunday.  They were there more than me.  And I look, and “Oh, hi, hello,”.  “This is Mary.”  “Oh, hi, Mary.”  “Mary is our sister.”  Oh, oh.  “Mary, thanks for coming in.  Where do you live?”  She goes, “Right here in town, lived here all my life.”  Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.  “Are you – do you go to another church?  What church do you go to?”  “Oh, no, no, no, no, no.  I don’t believe in God.  I don’t believe in God.”

Oh, oh, well.  This has taken a turn.  Okay?  All right.  We all sit down, and we talk.  And I’m talking about the choir and the anthem and organ and the theme and thing and the colors.  And Mary says, “I’m sorry, I don’t want it in the church.  I can’t come.  I can’t come if it’s in the church.”  For once in my life I shut up.  Because I figured, not because I was wise, which would have been good to say, but because I figured, well, these redwoods will take care of this.  They’re not going to stand for this; right?  I mean, these people are all about church.  They’re nothing but church.  The person that did was there every Sunday, and of course we’re going to have it at church.  The church needs to have this.  The congregation wants to give her a sendoff.  The congregation wants to witness to the faith.  We’ve got everything here.

“Can we have it in the funeral home?”  Oh, the funeral home in Rochester was, well, I mean, they meant well.  But it was kind of like playing with the box that church came in.  What’s left of the toy when you take it out, and you just have the cardboard box there, I mean, it was just generic and plain. No even a cross, not anything that is anything – certainly not an organ.  “Can we have it in the funeral home?”  I go, well, this isn’t going to go.  I think, maybe we could compromise, maybe have three hymns instead of five.

And then the patriarch, the main man, said – I go, well, here it is.  This is going to be some wisdom.  I’d better be remembering this.  This is going to be – and it was, but not what I thought.  And he said, “Well, should we accommodate?”  And one after another those redwoods bowed, said yeah, yeah, yeah.  No compromise.  No arguing.  No teaching.  No seniority.  No power plays.  “Shall we accommodate?”  Yeah.  Okay.

So I said, “Well, okay.  Funeral home.  We usually do this.  I’ve got this here.  We can do these prayers.  We’re not going to have a choir, we don’t have the organ.  We can take out this.  We can do this.”  And Mary pipes up, “Wait, wait.  It’s okay.  It’s okay.  Thanks.  Can we just – let’s have it in the church.”  And the redwoods say, “You sure, Mary?”  Goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Thanks, yeah.”  Okay.

And we had it in the church.  Do you love the church so much that you would give it up for someone that’s not saved?  I learned something pretty powerful that day, and not what I was expecting.  She wasn’t part of that community until her families were ready to give it up for her.  “We love you that much.  We love you that much, Mary.  We’re not even going to argue.  If that’s what you need, okay.  Okay.”  Knowledge puffs up.  Love builds up.  And that’s how that family worked that all out.  Mom did a pretty good job.  I think Paul would approve.

What about that intermission thing?  Thought I forgot, didn’t you.  Ha ha.  What about that intermission?  I think there was a little intermission right there.  A little stop in the drama and the play and the parts and the labor that we work on.  I think there was an intermission there.  Because intermission is when everyone, when the curtain comes down for just a moment, and you can be who you are with who you’re with, and you could talk to them about what’s going on in the great big drama and the plot and what has happened and what may happen and get caught up a little bit and say, what does it mean when they said that?  Oh, that was in, you take a break and connect up with everybody and get refreshed and remember who you are, instead of in the great big drama story that’s all around you.

And in that way, worship is intermission.  The entire worship service is an intermission between the mission and the work.  Between all of our roles and scripts that we have to fill, and the costumes that we wear, and the parts that we play, and the interactions that we have to get right, and to know our lines and to hit our marks and to do the work that comes to make the great drama appear, worship is, oh, step back.  Hold on.  Remember who you are.  Remember who you’re with.  Take a look at what’s going on around you.  Make sense of it all.  And then you’re ready to go back, with a greater knowledge and understanding and appreciation of what’s going on in the drama all around us.

Knowledge is great.  Knowledge is good.  I spent a lot of time in Louisville, learning stuff in seminary.  But my education wasn’t finished until talking about the church service that was almost not in the church because they loved so much.  They wouldn’t let their knowledge get in the way of that love.  When they built up community then, instead of puffing up the things they knew, how would they – would people say that about me and about you and about all the Presbyterians?  See how much they love, not how much they know.  Love well.  When the intermission is over, go out and play that part in the world.  Amen.

Christy Ramsey. Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 

Tuesday
Jul282015

Parades and Marches

Mary Lu Ramsey (seated) and Christy Ramsey July 4, 2015 What if there was a parade and everyone joined in? Or if there was a march and everyone brought lawn chairs to watch instead of walk?

Some people parade their faith, some use faith as a way of life, a path to follow, a journey to take: marching orders.

In Parades and Marches, we consider a parade in the Bible in from 2 Samuel 6: 1-5, 12b-23 and the only love story of its kind in the entire Bible.

This is a recording and transcript from the worship service at Spanish Springs Presbyterian Church on July 19, 2015.

Audio recording: Marches and Parades

Transcript by edigitialtranscription.com

 


 You only have to worry about one verse for today.  One verse:  2 Samuel 6:16.  Did you hear it?  The ark of the Lord came into the city of David.  And Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked out into the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.

What’s another title of Michal?  Anybody know?  Queen of Israel?  How about David’s wife?  Did you hear, every time he brought up Michal, it wasn’t “wife of David, Queen Michal,” but “daughter of Saul.”  Not David’s wife.  And there’s a story there.

But first let’s talk about my mother.  You know, it’s great to be a visiting minister.  I come tell family stories.  My family’s not here.  That’s cool.  What I say goes; right?  All right.  So my mom, I went to visit my mom over July 4th.  That seems to be a tradition with me.  And we were down there.  I would come see her.

For over 40 years there’s been a celebration on July 4th on my block.  When I was a wee lad 40 years ago, I went around and got the petition to shut down the street, close off the street for a block party.  And we had games and competition, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.  And we had a parade of decorated bicycles and wagons and things, a parade.  And I was in that parade.  Forty years later – and my mom and dad were movers and shakers and that.  And 40 years later now I’m all grown up.  But my mom still goes to that parade.

She doesn’t do as much as she used to.  I mean, she’s in the, well, you know, the ripe ages of 70, up toward the 80.  And she’s on continuous oxygen.  She gets tired just thinking about getting up.  And she’s got a scooter that she scoots around with.  But even that this year, she was saying – and she was in the parade last year, and she won.  And she felt so bad because there was little kids with wagons that were crying, and she had a trophy.  She goes, I really wanted to be in a noncompetitive category.  And she said, “I don’t think I can be in the parade.”  And she was so sad, she said, you know, 40 years.  And she goes, “I can’t be in the parade.  I can’t take it.  I can’t – I don’t think I can get around the block, even in the scooter.  I’m afraid I [indiscernible], I’d have to rest.”

And my son, my son, he’s not an overachiever.  No one would accuse him of that.  And I could tell you – and I’ll tell you, maybe some other time tell you stories about my son.  But, you know, he has – I want to tell you about my son.  I wish I had half his – I want his empathy, I guess it is.  That man can figure out the perfect thing you need.  What you need, he’ll know.  You may not know, but my son Robert will know, and he’ll tell you.  He is perfect in that way.  Lady, he is available, I mean, still, and he’s a good catch. And so, you know, my mom, and I didn’t know what to say.  And to his grandma he says, “You know, Grandma, you know, Grandma, that parade, you know, everybody goes – the kids and the parents and grandparents.  And nobody watches it.  Everybody’s parading.  It’s not really a parade unless someone watches.  They really don’t need another float.  What they need is spectators.”  And my mom just lit up.  She was so happy.  “Well, I could do that.”

And she got all dressed up, got her red, white, and blue stockings on that she breaks out every July 4th, sat out in front of the yard going, “Whoo, whoo, whoo,” you know, waved the flag and waved at all the kids, had a great time.  And then my wife – I was under assignment to take lots of pictures, so I was running around taking pictures – my wife got her to move down to the end of the block, where she could get them on the way back.  So she was spectator times two.  She had a great time.

And my son said something that inspired the sermon today.  He said, you know, the guy gives what you need.  Thanks, Robert.  He says, “You know, it’s not so much a parade as it is a march.”  It’s not so much a parade as it is a march because everybody goes.  No one watches.  

And I got to thinking about that.  And I’m thinking, wow, that applies to so many things.  The different between a parade and a march is whether everybody’s march moving or everybody’s watching.

I mean, we’ve got a whole lot of parade Christians, spectators.  You know?  They don’t like to do Christianity, but they like to watch.  Oh, I don’t really do that, I’m not into that, but I like to watch it.  You know.  Are there any kids here?  They all left.  Oh, okay.  Yeah.  So parade and march.  And you look at Michal, who is a tragic figure and a very important figure in the Bible.  And I’ll tell you why.  She’s very special.  She’s the only person in the Bible that has this.  That’s coming up.  Stay tuned.

Michal and David.  Now, is it a march or a parade, bringing the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem?  Well, let’s take a look.  30,000 men.  Now, does that mean just the men went out?  I don’t know.  They had a really bad habit of just counting men in the Bible, even in the New Testament.  Even if there was a couple thousand women with them, oh, they don’t count, unh-unh, you know, they were like that.  Sorry.  So I’m thinking there might have been a huge horde of people.  It’s always pretty much a march.  And there was dancing and singing.

But there was at least one spectator.  Just look where Michal was.  And you only get a couple words in the Bible to talk about Michal, and the Bible writers say “looking out her window.”  Michal was not in the parade.  She was not in the march.  She was a spectator, judging the display.  That’s one of the things about a parade; isn’t it?  Difference between a parade and a march?  March, everybody’s there.  Everybody’s going.  Everybody’s going.  Dum da dum da dum.  Parade, there’s all sorts of people.  There’s floats.  There’s people walking.  And then there’s judges.  Aren’t there judges in a parade?  Yeah, I’ve been a parade judge.  There’s a reviewing stand of dignitaries, you know.  There’s traffic cops hanging around.

You know, the more I hear about a parade, the more I’m thinking about church.  Sounds more and more like church to me.  That’s another difference about a parade.  Parade is all about spectacle and about look at me, look at me.  Isn’t that the idea of the parade?  It’s the greatest spectacle, the wonderful float, and look at me, and show me all about these things.  And but a march, a march is not about showing us, not about individuality, not about standing up, not about best than everybody else, not about – in fact, most marches, everybody’s trying to look the same.  It’s like they have uniforms or something.  And usually you see marching people, they’re all, de de do, all agree, we’re all looking like don’t look at us.  We’re on the way here.  We’re all marching.  A march is about us, not about who’s the best one of us, but all of us moving.

A parade and a march, there’s a difference between a parade and a march in that have you ever noticed that a parade goes in a circle?  Have you ever been in a parade that went anywhere?  Parades just go around in a circle.  The best parades.  Now, sometimes parade goes one end of town to the other and strands you down there.  And then you have this, like, strange – you ever been to Nevada Day parade?  There’s a strange reverse parade.  Have you seen this?  That the parade’s here in front of you, but the parade from like an hour ago is going behind you.  Yeah, we’re walking back to our car, yeah, got to go this way. And you’re thinking, I just saw those guys there.

Yeah.  Parades go nowhere.  Marches go somewhere.  Marches have a destination.  We’re marching to Zion.  We’re marching to this place.  We’re on a forced march to this place.  It has a destination.  It is definitely not in a circle.  Marches go somewhere.  Do I have to point out a church thing?  Are you going somewhere?  Are you parading, or are you marching?

And here’s something that’s kind of subtle, but as soon as you think about it, you think about it, you know.  Parades, other people, a few people put in a whole lot of time.  Have you seen those things in Nevada Day?  Some of those things they build up?  I’m thinking you probably are going to start tomorrow on next year, to get done in time, all of the stuff you did in the floats and the buildings and the things that you’ve got going here.  I go, well, you put a lot of time into that.  Oh, yeah.

And then other people watch.  Not much required of parade watchers, of spectators.  You just pretty much have to stand there, to get there early, get a chair, sit, you know.  That’s all you’ve got to do.  And you don’t have to stay for the whole thing.  You can leave early.  No one makes faces at you like they do in church.  You know, but at marches there is no – everybody’s in.  Everybody’s all in.  Everybody’s carrying something.  Everybody’s working.  Everybody’s walking.  It’s not like a couple people work really hard, and the rest of us say, oh, good job.  It’s everybody is involved in a march.

The very words, the very words “parade” and – I did not know this till I started working on this, but the very words “parade” and “march,” parade, the root of parade is to stand.  I would never know that.  It is to stand and show.  Movement is not in the word “parade.”  Now, “march,” strangely enough, comes to us from the word that also gives us “trample.”  Trample.  The same root goes back in there.  So when I think about, when I hear about “march,” I’m thinking about he has, what?  When you hear “trample,” what do you hear?  

Grapes of wrath.  He has trampled out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored, a great image from Revelation.  So marching and trampling is very much in the Bible as something that Christians do.  Marching, trampling out the vineyards.  It’s a destination.  It’s a duty.  It’s something to do.

So how can you do it?  I’m working on a little thing, so I’ve got to keep looking here.  I’m trying to actually have a structure and list things because, God bless you, my wife’s one of these – she’s not here, so I can talk about her.  And she knows this happens, so it’s her fault.  But, you know, there’s some people, and we need them, we need them bad, I need these people.  They make lists?  Anybody?  List people?  You don’t have to, you know, you can – I see you pointing.  Yeah, people make lists and do things.  I don’t do that.  But I try every now and then to visit that land.  It’s a strange land.  I usually need a guide to tell me where things are.  And no, you want bullet points, not numbers.

Anyhow, so I’m making a list.  So I’m making a list.  Here’s my list.  This is for you list people.  I’m trying to speak a different language here.  It’s almost like Greek or Hebrew, but here we are.  List.  How can you be a marcher instead of a parader?  Well, Christy, what can we do about this?  How do we not be like Michal, and get out and dance with David?

Now, Michal, I want to say some good things about Michal.  I’m not down on her.  I’m a big fan of Michal, you know.  And she does have a point, you know.  We don’t know exactly what a linen ephod is.  If you want to get some people wound up, you know, say this is what it is.  Oh, everybody start yelling at you.  But pretty much they sort of move around.  It’s an apron.  So we’re thinking he was just wearing just an apron.  And you know that scripture, that one verse I said, 16, it definitely made point to say, not just dancing – which is plenty.  I don’t need anything else.  Dancing’s fine.  Oh, no.  It made a point to say “leaping and dancing,” as if – do I have to draw you a picture of what was happening out there?  You know.  There was leaping involved; okay?  All right?  He had a ephod.  We told you that.  The leaping, okay.  Enough said.  This is a family Bible.

You know, so Michal, you know, I think had grounds to be a little mad at the husband.  I’m pretty expert on this, too, grounds for being mad at a husband.  Oh, but the list.  Yeah, told you I’m horrible at lists.  Here we go.  Lists.  All right.  So the list.  How can we be a marcher instead of a parader?  One.  One.  Join in.  Simple.  Join in.  Don’t be a spectator.  Don’t watch out the window, being like in the reviewing stand, judging the floats that go by in the Christian parade.  Get out there and join in.  When you see trouble, when you see opportunity to get out there and dance however, whatever you can do, get out and do that.

How can you do that?  There’s all sorts of opportunities.  I mean, I kind of think that a church exists so that people can join into the Christian march.  Basically that’s what we’re about.  It doesn’t save us.  It doesn’t get us attendance points in heaven.  It doesn’t check us off community service in the heavenly kingdom.  What it is, is for us to join in the march, to find some mission, some way that we can be together to do great things that we could probably not do alone.  So join in the march.

Now, you’re saying, I am not really a church person.  I just accidentally wandered in here.  I thought it was an office supply shop, you know, it’s in the plaza, and then I was too embarrassed.  And the coffee.  So if you’re not into that, you can do some nonprofit things, too.  You can get out and do God’s work at nonprofits.  You can maybe even do it in profits.  But nonprofits usually have a mission, a march, and they’re usually looking for someone.  And a lot of them are church affiliated.  You could probably hear about them in church here.

I do ComputerCorps in Carson City.  And they’re kind of churchy.  They take community service people and people trying to kick drugs and give them a chance.  You know, we’re going to give you a chance.  Now, a lot of them steal from us, and we’ve got to fire them in sadness.  But they keep trying.  They keep trying to give them – they keep trying to give them a chance.  There’s some people that never had a job in their life because they’re not the smartest person in the class, and they come to ComputerCorps, and we give them a job.

And we’ve got one guy that sweeps the floors, and he does a really good job, and we really encourage him; you know?  And he’s doing better.  And some people go from there and go, actually, they can get a job because they know how to show up.  They know how to punch in and out of the time clock.  They know how to be responsible.  They know how to do that.  And I think that’s God’s work.  They’re run by volunteers.  You can find a nonprofit to join in.  But that’s the key.  Join in.  Don’t watch.  Join the march.  Don’t be the watcher.
Next on the list, have a destination.  Find somewhere to go.  Don’t go around and around and around and around in circles.  Okay, I didn’t say committee meetings, but I know you’re thinking it.  Okay?  I know.  I know about that.  Don’t go around and around and around in circles.  Don’t let your only church service be committee meetings.  God knows we need those.  Administration’s one of the spiritual gifts, hallelujah, I’m testifying.  But don’t go around and around in circles.  Have a destination.

What are we here for?  What are we doing?  What in God’s name are we doing, for heaven’s sake?  That should be a question every day.  What in God’s name are you doing, for heaven’s sake?  If you can answer that question, we want to be here then, we want to be there, we want to make sure that these – we want to make an outreach to the high school.  I don’t know what you’re doing.  But have somewhere to go.  Otherwise you’re just parading in a circle, showing people things and saying “We’re on our way here.  This is where we’re going.”  Have a destination.

Oh.  Habitat for Humanity.  Anybody heard of Habitat for Humanity?  I heard the founder speak at the General Assembly Presbyterian Church, very moving, very challenging.  He did not let – he put our feet to the fire because he started reading off, you know, the Methodists have built 1,024 houses.  I see the Presbyterians are at 800.  Oh, boy.  People are looking around at that one.  But he had an inspirational speech.  And one of the things I think is so good, they have a destination.  They have a place they’re going.  They’re marching forward.
You know what, you know what they say about Habitat for Humanity?  They say this about this.  This is what they’re doing.  This is where they’re going.  No more shacks.  That’s where they’re going.  Where are you going?  We’re going to a world where no one lives in a shack.  That’s what we’re doing.  How are you doing?  I can measure my march.  I know how close I am by how many people still do not have decent, affordable housing.  No more shacks.  Have a destination.

List people, another one.  Three.  For that I should do numbers.  Three.  No, three, always we, not me.  It’s not about who’s the best.  It’s not about who’s got the flashiest clothes.  You know what, you know, I don’t know if I told you this.  Oh, I can tell you.  But I work at Best Buy, at Geek Squad.  And everybody there, including, like, my boss and my boss’s boss, are the age of my kids.  And I try to behave.  Lord, Lord knows I try.  But sometimes my boss says, he says, “Well, we got – this year is about humble and integrity, and I graded you the highest on there.  I think you’re very humble.”  I go, “Oh, no, no.  I’m not humble at all.”  He didn’t get it.  He started arguing with me, “Oh, no, I think you’re really humble.”  And I go, “No, no.  I’m not humble.”  (Hand sweeping over head.)

If you do not care who gets the credit, there’s no limit to what you can do.  The Reagans both said that, Lincoln, Truman.  The first one we found is 1922, a guy with an impossible-to-pronounce name, Montague, Charles Edward, said there’s no limit to what one can do as long as one does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.  So it’s always we, not me, if you’re marching.  If it’s me, you’re on parade.  You’re up there saying, “Look at me, look at me, aren’t I the best?”

Four.  I remembered the number.  Four.  Here’s the thing.  Put in the time.  Remember this is the one where you just watch, and there’s not much commitment or work needs required if you’re just watching a parade.  In a march, you’ve got to get a pack on.  You’ve got to get ready with your boots.  You’ve got to train.  You’ve got to move.  You’ve got to put out the time.  And you’re there for the whole time, committed time.

And here’s the difficult part, you know, and people get mad about this sometimes, but I want you to consider this.  Pay for your own faith.  Don’t make other people pay.  Right?  Don’t say, “I have this deeply held, passionate, important, core belief, and I want you to do it for me.”

Do we have a lot of that?  Oh, I get fired up about it.  I’m still fired up about, ooh, boy, that was several years, I don’t know, back in the day.  A friend of mine was in the Lutheran Church, ELCA, you know, the ones that talk to us, those guys.  And he was – he had a bit of land, and he was going to build a church on it.  Whoo, hah, good, all right.  He was going to build a church.  He was raising his money.  And they’re all raise the church, raise the money,

The church was meeting at the high school.  And he comes to – we had a weekly meeting of the ministers, and we, oh, we did a lot of things.  About a whole ‘nother sermon. So we talked, he says, he goes, “Hey, we’ve got a great opportunity.  Looks like somebody wants to buy our land that we have, and they’re going to pay us four times what we paid for it.  They’re going to pay us four times what we paid for it.  Stewardship drive’s done.  We’re ready, we can build, we’ve got other land that we’ve got our eye on.  We’re going to buy it and [indiscernible].”  You know, we’re all dancing around, “Hallelujah, God is great, God is great, whoo, whoo, whoo, hey, hey, stewardship drive’s done.”  Like that.  One check.  Oh, yes, Lord.

Walmart wanted to buy it.  In a small town in Ohio.  That minister got death threats, threatening him and his family if he sold to Walmart.  I was livid.  Still mad.  It’s been 10 years, 15.  I was livid.  And they were talking about his Christianity and talking about his family.  

I said, “Hey, guys, okay, I understand your passion.  I understand your arguments.  And you don’t like Walmart, fine.  Well, then, you all take up an offering, and you all buy that land from him and match Walmart’s price.  Is it important to you?  Well, then, pay up.  Don’t you dare tell those Christians they have to pay for your beliefs.  Not the way we roll here.  It’s not the way Christians roll.  Take up your cross.  It doesn’t say give your cross to someone else to take up.”

This is the difference between a parade and a marcher, a marcher pays for their own faith.  A marcher puts on the boots and spends the time and puts on the pack and does the walk and doesn’t say, oh, yeah, very good, you all do that for me.  They didn’t come up with the money, but they shut up.  Well, at least to me they didn’t say anything.  So [indiscernible], whatever works.

That was four; right?  Who’s keeping track?  Anybody?  I should have assigned someone.  Okay.  Thanks, five.  I think we’re at five.  Four?  Oh, you want more?  Dinner’s burning.  I mean, we’re going to get – a lot of people are going to get to the restaurant.

Five, five.  I think I already talked about this some, about – and that’s the problem with the list.  I move around it.  Show, you know, the difference between being stopped, parade rest. You know, when you’re watching a parade, you’re not moving.  And marching, you’re doing nothing but moving.  So check yourself.  There’s been a study that men – now, women, thank you, women, they keep learning and growing in faith all their lives.  The last study I saw saying, us men, we kind of stop right about Sunday school, fifth grade somewhere.  And then we just cruise.  “Honey, you all go to that class.  I will stay home.”

You know what I love about – I love the Grads and Dads in June.  And one of the things I love about it is to take a look at whether it’s graduation or commencement.  There is no graduation in a church.  There are commencements, but when you start something.  You’re going to start another version, another chapter, another leg of our journey, of your spiritual journey.  It’s never graduation.  It’s always commencement.  So you want to be in the march instead of being outside, standing in the parade, be that way.

I could add another one, too, you know.  Don’t be judge-y.  You know?  Michal up there, it’s hard not to be judge-y if you’re watching the parade.  And it’s almost impossible to be judge-y if you’re in it.  People say, “Well, how did the sermon go today?”  I go, “I don’t know, I wasn’t listening.  I just gave it.  I don’t know.  I had a good time.  I don’t know.”  You can’t be judge-y if you’re doing it.  If you’re watching, you can hardly help but doing it.  And that’s a bonus one right there.

So always, one of the things I pray regularly is let me have an attitude of gratitude and not grievance, being grateful instead of being complaining.  And if you’re working on something, you’re less likely to complain than you are if you’re watching something.  And if you’re working on something, you’re probably going to be more like you want it than if you’re just watching it.  That’s almost random, if it’s going to come out right.

Okay.  Now, if you’re like me, you’re going, oh, that’s a lot to remember.  I don’t – I don’t – he had an extra one there, and then he backed up, and I didn’t take notes, and I hope there’s not a quiz.  Oh.  Did you – you ever seen those bulletins where they have, you know, sermon notes?  That’s a lot of pressure for me and you, so.

What if you’re like me, and you’re saying, you know, the list is fine, you know, but can we have something else?  And I got something else.  Remember I told you something else was coming.  You know, for all this story and the strangeness here, Michal, David, and a window, this isn’t the first time that Michal, David, and a window is in the Bible.  Who and what?  2 Samuel we see Michal, David, and a window.  But we also see it in that 1 Samuel that I talked about, 1 Samuel 19, verses 11 and 12, a very different scene, a very different outcome.

Because, you see, the one thing that the Bible says about Michal that it says about no other woman in the Bible – you can go through the whole Bible, and the Bible never says this about a woman.  And it’s very important.  This is the only time, and it’s with Michal only.  Only Michal in the Bible does it say that a woman loved a man.  Michal loved David.  Remember that old patriarchal kind of man-centered thing I was talking about earlier?  Maybe that’s a little bit about that, you know, that a woman’s love wasn’t that important back then.  It was property values and dynasties.  And poor Michal was married to David twice.  She was passed around as a political pawn in treaties and power things.

But there was a time in 1 Samuel where the Bible, even the Bible takes notice.  And Michal loved David.  She wasn’t always up in that window, despising him.  The last time they were at a window, I wonder, I wonder if she was thinking of that time that she looked out that window alone at her husband the king.  That last time was before he was king, when her father was king, when she was the prize and the plum and the desired of all.  When she was powerful, she and David were together as husband and wife because Michal loved David.

And Saul had enough of David.  He was way too good.  And Saul sent people to kill him.  “Go, and when he leaves Michal in the morning, kill him.”  Michal knew this and warned David at the risk of her position and, yes, even her life, said to David, saying, “If you do not leave right now, you will be dead in the morning.”  And going against her father, and her family, and maybe even her country, if you looked at it, she warned the one she loved to go, and lowered him down out of the window to safety.  And she didn’t stop there, either.  Not just warning David, not just letting him out the window to safety, she made a dummy on the bed and put goat’s hair, hair there, and told his father, the assassins waiting outside in the morning, going,
“Oh, he’s sick in bed.  He’s not coming out.  He’s sick in bed.”

And when they finally got wise to that and came up, and they said, well, look, he’s still there, and finally they went in and found what she had done.  She lied for him.  She lied to her father and said, “What was I to do?  He was going to kill me.”  Michal loved David.  The last time they were at a window together, she sacrificed everything, even sacrificed – she would not see David for years.  She will not see David till after she was given in marriage to another man.  She will not see David until her father is dead.  She might have known that bad times were coming, and she let David go away from her, not to be with her.

How could you be like that Michal and not the Michal that despised that same man?  Love.  If you don’t make a list, and you don’t do the steps one, two, three kind of thing, here’s all you’ve got to remember.  If you find yourself looking out the window at something you don’t like, look out there with love.  And may the Bible say about you, if the Bible ever writes about you, may it be said about you, that person loved others.  That person worked to save others.  That person did all they could for the good of those that he loved, that she loved.

And isn’t that the Christian march?  Isn’t that our destination?  Isn’t that what we’re all about?  Love?  Try and look out those windows on love.  And if you love enough, you’re going to climb out the window and get involved and help people live their lives and savor their lives.  Love one another, as Michal loved David, and as Christ loves you.  Amen.