Saturday, August 25, 2018


Sermon Summary, 8/12/18, “Hills and Valleys of Memory Lane” (Luke 14:7-11))

Last week was our 60th high school reunion.  I can tell you that memory lane can be a rocky road.  For example, at the Saturday night street dance, I noticed a lot of old people there.  Then I realized they were a generation younger that I was!  I did see folks I hadn’t seen since 1958, good people.  I spent time with family.  Sister-in-law Dorothy and I laughed together and cried together.  We had family dinners.  I made hospital visits (one of my classmates), and led part of the Sunday worship service.  On Thursday night we had an awesome variety show.  I heard words of wisdom: From Dorothy’s daughter: “My mission in life has always been to get my kids to heaven.”  Think about that.  And I made a lot of visits to the cemetery.

Most of all, I got to know a whole lot more about a whole lot of people. Isn’t that what life is really about?  Knowing others so we can love them.

Here are some things you didn’t know about Rosemary: At twenty, she became executive assistant to the District Supervisor of Bell construction in five north-central states and in two years was running her boss’s meetings.  She loved sports.  She was the fastest girl or boy in grade school and ran on the boys relay team (verified by two of her grade school classmates at the reunion).  She cried watching the Olympics because there were no organized sports for girls when she was in high school.  When she was seven, a young preacher was appointed to her small town who combed the town for kids to come to vacation bible school, then walked the town with the kids each day recruiting more.  At the end of two weeks, he baptized 17 youngsters in a small town of 325.  It was the beginning of Rosemary’s spiritual walk. 

One of the things I had to do on the trip was to visit was to visit the funeral home and order a stone for Rosemary.  How do you define a person’s life?  What is a suitable epitaph?  I struggled.  The week before, I woke in the middle of the night and I knew.  The family concurred.  You know it to be true.  “All who humble themselves will be exalted.”  It is who she was.  It was always about others.  She influenced others with her humility and by elevating others.  It’s our story of the seats at the banquet.  We learn from the guest to take a lower seat.  We learn from the host to lift others up whenever possible.  That was Rosemary.

We will miss her hospitality and her conversations with all of us.  We need to learn from her, be intentional each week to enter into conversation with those we know less well, learn about them and from them. 

Our conversations with others are for a lifetime.  We can never stop learning about others, lifting them up to feel part of the family of God.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Sermon Summary, 7/22/18, “The Lion King” (Gen 49:9-10; Rev 5:5)

A friend sent a devotional from Frederick Buechner, awesome writer, who talked of the nature of life: “as far as we know, the vast majority of things in the universe do not have what life is… a few things are alive...even jelly fish and butternut squash.  They’re in it with us. We’re all in [life] together, or it in us.” 

The “Lion King” is about the “Circle of Life.”  Brutally honest about our mortality, but also about the preciousness of life, that we need to take our obligations seriously, that we all need to find our place in the “Circle of Life.”

The Biblical metaphors begin in the opening with the anointing and presentation (much like Jesus’ baptism) of the future king, Simba.  But even in this idyllic world, as with the biblical world and ours, evil exists in the presence of the King’s brother, Scar.  Scar.  Can’t you hear the evil in his name?  Scar plots, puts Simba in danger and King Mustafa (the father) sacrifices his life to save Simba (again the symbology?).  Tortured by guilt, Simba exiles himself, believing he can never be forgiven.  Scar rules and destroys the land.

The Return of the King: Simba is found, urged to return to accept his obligations as king.  During his return, he has a vision of his father who tells him, “Simba, you have not become who you were intended to be.  Remember who you are.” 

When I told my granddaughter that I was preaching on the “Lion King,” she summed up the movie in a single phrase, “Remember who you are.”

What does is mean for us to remember who we are?  Where do we fit in the “Circle of Life?”  Have you ever considered that the one true miracle may be that we can be part of that circle?  But are we the King or are we Scar?  How do we fit?  Unfortunately, there is a little of both within us.

Paul understood that there were two warring factions within us, our nature (which he called the flesh) and that which is Spirit led.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness (generosity), kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (Gal 5:22-23)

We are part of the circle of life.  A good way to be a part of it is for each of us to ask each day “how we can live out the fruit of the Spirit?”  How is that we can love each day?  Extend joy? Provide peace, well-being to others? Patiently walk with another? Be kind? Be gentle, faithful and exercise self-control?  Ask each day, living out the circle of life.

Tomorrow, will we remember who we are?  Will we be faithful followers of the King in the manner in which we join the circle of life?