Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 21 Sermon, If the Shoe Doesn't Fit.....

Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17

Ben’s Shoes:

The thing about this passage that really strikes me: this narrative about Saul insisting that David wear his armor, and then the comment that the armor hung on him like a little boy wearing his dad’s t-shirt like Wesley did yesterday.

Why would the storyteller include this point? It has something to do with God’s relationship with us.

The scripture is particularly fascinated with armor. Even though Goliath is a giant, we hear much more (3 verses) about his weaponry than we do about his height.

Actually the texts don’t agree on his height—the Masoretic text (Hebrew tradition from the 10th century) describes him as 6 cubits and a span—9ft. 9 inches--In other words, standing next to a basketball goal, his head would be just under the rim. The Greek text (the Septuagint, and the oldest known Hebrew text, the Dead Sea Scrolls) measures him at 4 cubits and a span, which is about 6 ft. 9 inches.

In either case, he is a giant by the day’s standards. The average Hebrew male in 1000 bc grew to full height of 5ft3inches. Saul, who stood a head above everyone else, would probably have been around 5ft. 7. (So, even though the more ancient texts describe Goliath as around 6ft 9, most Bible translations keep the less reliable text because, well, we like our stories the way they look in the children’s books)

No need to embellish the story with supernatural height. Just imagine LeBron James in bronze armor and high-tech weapontry coming at a farm implement-wielding Danny DeVito and you'll have an idea of the dread the average Israelite solder would've felt! (James Michael Smith)

So, back to the story, we get the point in this great epic story of two champions meeting in the desert that God uses the most unlikely of people to speak and act for Him. This is an important theme all throughout the scriptures, and something I want to accentuate for us.

but it is also about this: God wants us as we are.

The story describes this as well. David “can barely walk” in Saul’s armor. Instead he sheds the metal, and walks out bare skinned, with his leather pouch and sling.

Saul may have uttered the divine name, but he cannot give up his own reliance on human military power. He attempts to clothe David in his own armor (vv. 38-39).

Saul does not understand anything. He has uttered Yahweh’s name. But he wants to outdo Goliath on Goliath’s terms. . . . So he offers armor, helmet, coat of mail, sword—David “tried in vain to go” with such encumbrance. David’s contrast is with both Saul and Goliath. Unlike them, he goes unencumbered (“I am not used to them”). Both of them—the one a braggart, the other a coward—trust in arms.123

David is the model of another way, of those without the benefit of superior arms and armies who nevertheless trust that God can make deliverance possible against the odds, that there is hope even when faced with apparently hopeless situations. David refuses the armor, and he takes only his staff, his sling, and five smooth stones—the equipment of a shepherd (v. 40)—to meet the Philistine.

Be not conformed to this world.

His actions are reported throughout the chapter, but especially in the climactic moment of the battle with the Philistine champion, David becomes a man of bold and effective action. In vv. 48-51, David is the subject of fifteen verbs, placing him at the center of a bold action drama. He ran—put his hand—took out—slung—struck—prevailed—striking down—killing—ran—stood over—grasped—drew—killed—cut off. David is now introduced to us not only as God’s man and Saul’s man, but also as his own man.

More than that, in the ancient near east, to die by one's own weapon was a sign of humiliation and disgrace. David's use of the giant's sword--rather than the stone--to kill him was a powerful symbol to all who witnessed it, as well as the generations who would read about it in the future. God's messiah defeated the most powerful enemy with his own weapon...sound familiar??

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Good study resource for David and Goliath

I was looking for a simple fact (how tall was the average man in 1000 bc) and ran across this great website from another United Methodist pastor. Thought it might be helpful to you too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 14 sermon, "Inside Out"

Mark and 1 Samuel


I think we’ve all had the experience of a schoolyard pick, haven’t we? Everyone stands up in a row so the two team captains can get a good look at us, then one begins picking, back and forth, until everyone is chosen.

Perhaps no prayers of desperation are more heartfelt than those of the kids who are typically chosen last. “God, please, please, please, let me be picked next.” I know, because I’ve prayed these prayers. What does it feel like to be picked first? I don’t know.

That’s what we have here in this scripture lesson. And God is

The way that Lara reads a book, I can see what is going on in the book by the expressions on her face.

stress the importance of the inner life and the genuineness of our commitment to Christ.

God tells Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

God knows our inmost thoughts and desires. God sees the shape of our hearts.

We must be diligent to guard against resentment, jealousy, pride, etc. because they can spoil our insides. Those are the traits that ruin Saul once David's career takes off.

Our inner life may seem containable and private, but more often than not, it is on display to others in ways that we're not aware.

In the end, God is our judge and we are known "inside out" by God. So, we might as well come clean with who we are, and ask for God to forgive us our weaknesses and mold us into God's image.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

After God's Own Heart

This Sunday we'll begin a summer sermon series on David: A Man after God's Own Heart. Come hear about this central character to the story of Israel, and what his life can teach us about following God.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Doers of the Word

Once again, not much time for a sermon from the pulpit this week. Instead we all preached with our actions as we continued the last day of our Vacation Bible School. This year, not many puppet shows or arts and crafts (not that there's anything wrong with them) we just decided that we'd teach the kids about service work by actually doing it with them. On Sunday, we had a short communion service, then went out and delivered cookies to all our homebound and community service people. Before departing, we watched the new promotional video from UM communications, 10,000 Doors, youtube video below. I told the congregation I was proud that I think our church reflects what is promoted in the ad campaign. We are truth in adverstising. Next Week, we'll start a summer focus on David presented in the stories of Samuel.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pentecost/Confirmation Sunday

We didn't have time for much of a sermon on Sunday, what with two baptisms and one profession of faith from a confirmand. Not all our confirmands could make it either, and we'll have our next two in June. But, we do have photos from our spelunking trip to Devil's Den State Park. Enjoy!