Shekinah Glory


On The Outside Looking In
December 10, 2007, 12:13 am
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, faith, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Praise, Religion, Sermon, Spirituality, thoughts, Wholeness

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Sermon on Romans 15:4-13

 

            My baseball was nice, shiny and new.  I took it and its new leather glove companion straight out of the box in which they had been wrapped.  What a great gift!  I was so excited to try them out.  That afternoon I threw that ball high into that overcast Christmas afternoon catching it deep in the gloves stiff web.  This baseball truly climbed to the top of my most prized possessions in the whole wide world list. 

            Now, no true Nebraskan holds baseball as their favorite sport.  That is reserved for the official state religion, Husker football.  I did not play baseball myself, but had every single player’s card in a cardboard box on the top shelf of my closet.  Pulling it off that shelf I would stare into the eyes of Willie Wilson, Johnnie Bench, Carl Yastrzemski and Rollie Fingers.  With my bedroom door shut I practiced holding a bat or winding up like these superstars.    There was only one team to root for and that was the Kansas City Royals.  George Brett and pine tar were the objects of serious conversations at school amongst the cool boys.

            I was a lanky loner with horn-rimmed glasses who wore hand me down polyester long sleeved shirts with Welcome Back Kotter phrases all over their fabric.  You know the kind, the ones with collars that extended almost to my shoulders.  “Up your nose with a rubber hose,” was what came out of the coolest boy’s mouths when I would come near them.  These cool boys both fascinated me and scared me.  They seemed to know the right things to say, had the right cloths and were all so talented athletically.  I felt awkward and silly when ever I pulled my knee high tube socks up before swinging too late at a pitch. 

            This new baseball was going to change all of that, so I thought.  When we returned to school after break it was unseasonably warm, an Indian summer.  So, I showed Brad and Devon (those names even sound cool) my baseball and asked them if they wanted to play catch.

            “Cool, let’s get a game together” Brad said as the rest of the boys began to gather. 

            Soon my pride had turned to embarrassment when once again it was clear that even though everyone wanted to play with my new baseball, no one actually wanted me on their team.  I was dead last being chosen by Chad and I was crushed.  

            It is an old story, a cliché really that has become part of our national mythology.  If my life was a Disney movie I would than have batted, with two outs in the ninth inning and a championship on the line.  With nothing but my wise coach Pat Morita saying, “Believe in yourself!” I would hit the ball out of the park and all of my fellow team members would hoist me on their shoulders in celebration. 

            You know that is not how it ends.  I remained awkward and clumsy holding the bat like it weighed 2000 lbs.  I could not  throw, catch, pitch and I struck out every time I came to bat.  I was never going to be one of the cool athletic boys that I so desperately wanted to like me.

            One of the most human characteristics to feel alienated isolated and separated from both our fellow humans and the striving for the individuals that we desire to become.   We may strive for an unending well of power, there may never be enough money in the world to fill the hole that fear creates, turning to all our relationships we may attempt the impossible task of controlling them all or we may shrink into difficult work of self negating low self esteem in attempting to stake a firm position in the world.  Yet, when we are stripped of all of our pretense and defense mechanisms we are left with that vulnerable child who seeks desperately for the approval of their mother, their father of their peers on the schoolyard.  The more we strive, the more we seem like we are on the outside looking in.  The promise of this season is that God is human and because of that our position in life doesn’t have to be on the outside looking in.

            Today we are moving toward the manger, our shoot of Jesse that rises from the stump, the promised one from the lips of the prophet Isaiah who will bring us Gentiles hope.  This is wonderful and exciting news for those of us who feel out of place, awkward or outsiders.  Christ extends grace to us so that we are in its midst and no longer searching lost and alone.  Lives that we might have thought were worthless and dead are now like the stumps of trees around whose edges shoots are pushing heavenward and are bustling with life.   As the rock singer Bruce Cockburn says about the incarnation of Christ at the Christmas season:  “Its like a stone on the surface of clear water, moving the surface out forever.  Redemption lies in the surface of time in the cry of a tiny baby. “ 

            We should not be included in the salvation and covenantal history afforded to God’s people.  We do not keep the law.  Yet, Paul reminds us that through Christ we have been engrafted into a new covenant with our creator.  We are given hope that we no longer have to be on the outside looking in, but that God has already accepted us for salvation.  What are we called to believe this season?  Paul makes it clear to his audience in Rome that we are to believe that we are a part of God’s great love.  When we can believe this we in turn will be able to experience joy and peace.  It is a joy and peace that comes from knowing that you are exactly where you need to be, one who is chosen by God for a relationship.  That means that none of us are picked last, isolated or alone.  It means that because of a little child in Bethlehem in his community of friends we no longer have to feel like an outsider looking.  God is amongst us brimming with life.

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6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good sermon. I think Jesus was picked last too.

Comment by WhoreChurch

For some reason I could not respond until now. Sometimes I’m not sure I would have picked Jesus for my team.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

You’ve never seen Jesus’ curve ball. It’s wicked. Or, um, “heavenly.”

Comment by WhoreChurch

I’ve tried to hit his curve ball, but I never know where it is going.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

My spiritual father said more than once “if God is your friend, you don’t need enemies.”

I still am not sure how to take that, and he died many years ago.

Brian you stir too many things in me. I’m not sure I want to play in your sandbox any more. I’m scared to ask the questions I come up with when I am here.

But I guess I’ll return–it’s like an itch I can’t scratch.

Comment by WhoreChurch

I often stir too many things up in myself. Oh well, there will always be a new minute after this one.

Comment by pastorofdisaster




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