Dancing Before the Lord

Sermon for Sunday, July 12, 2015
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 6:15-, 12b-19
Mark 6:14-29

What do the following have in common?

Broadway and Cincinnati
Wings and Buffalo
Maxie Ford and Shirley Temple

[ – and then as needed, until people guess – ]

Dig and Trenches (both Hoofer and Broadway)
Jump Click and Cramp Roll
Buck Double Time Step and Double Travel Time Step
Chug and Shuffle
Paddles and Slide
Flap and Drawback
Stamp and Stomp

Not only are these tap dance moves, but – at least in most tappers’ rendition of Duke Ellington’s jazz and tap setting of “David Danced Before the Lord” – these are some of the very moves that King “David danced before the Lord with all his might.”  (You didn’t know that King David tap danced?  Google “Duke Ellington” and “David Danced” and you’ll see him first-hand on YouTube.)  No matter who the tapper, one cannot help but notice the exuberance with which David danced.  There are Broadways and Cincinnatis.  There are Wings and Buffalos.  There are Maxie Fords and Shirley Temples.   You name the move, and David does them as the Ark of the Covenant – after being in rural Israel for twenty years – is finally brought into Jerusalem.

Continue reading

Inviting Jesus All the Way In

Sermon for June 28, 2015
Pentecost 5
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Mark 5:21-43

Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!…
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me. – From 2 Samuel

The words are David’s, from his lamentation after the death of King Saul and his son, David’s beloved friend Jonathan. We all know that David was a great lyricist and singer and the composer of the Psalms.   But suppose – God forbid – David had a tin ear.  What song might David then listen to to help give voice to his grief?

To help him in his grief, I can see David listening to songs like “In My Life,” by the Beatles, or Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt.”  Or maybe he’d listen to Boyz II Men’s “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye,” or  Mariah Carey’s “Without You.”  Or maybe he’d listen to Celine Dion’s, “My Heart Will Go On,” or Diamond Rio’s, “One More Day.”  (“One more day, one more time, one more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied.”) Continue reading

God Calls the Least Worthy to His Service

Sermon for Sunday, March 30, 2014
Lent 3A

“The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” — I Samuel 16:7

For this morning’ sermon, I’m going to let you in on one of the secrets of the priesthood.  No, it’s not some “hocus pocus” about the Eucharist; nor is it a secret handshake we all learned in seminary; and neither is it some Dan Brown-style secret that each of us has been sworn to guard.  The secret is at once more closely guarded than that and yet at the same time an “open” secret.  The secret is this: most clergy feel – at least some of the time – inadequate and unworthy of our calling.   This sense of inadequacy and unworthiness may appear for some of us as we are chairing a meeting.  For others it may come when we are preaching, or officiating at a funeral, or maybe wearing the collar around town.  For me, my sense of inadequacy and unworthiness most often shows up during the liturgy, at the offertory, just before communion.  There I am, up at the altar, the table set, waiting for the gifts to be brought forward (the bread and wine, and the offering plates).   And a voice inside my head will say something like, “What are you doing up here?”  “Think of how many people are more deserving than you to stand here.”  “Where is that trap door where I can disappear, because I really don’t belong here?”  I’ve learned over the years to expect this voice, and not to trust it.  It may well be true – no, I’m sure it’s true – that there are others more worthy and competent to stand there than I am.  But worthiness is not the point.  The point is that God has called.  God knows full well that that there are “better” and more deserving people to stand at the altar; but for whatever reason, God has called me.  I’ve learned – I’m learning – to trust the call.  “I don’t fully understand it,” I might say to God, “But, OK, here I am.  Use me.  And give me the grace you know I need.”

Continue reading