Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Shady Lady

Today's sermon took off from the story of the Samaritan woman, dropped a couple of bombs, deviated from course quite a few times, missed a few good landing strips, but finally delivered our fearless crew home. Thank you "Shady Lady." I knew we were in trouble when I noticed that our co-pilot and navigator were absent from church today. Charlie had to fly solo, which would have been okay if the passengers had been given parachutes so they could have bailed out sometime before the second in-flight refueling. In fewer words, the sermon was toooooo long. Granted, today's lessons are full of wonderful material for discussion, but after the first 12 minutes, even the most disciplined crew loses focus. By the time the second 12 minutes have gone by, mutinous thoughts become manifest by irritated sounds, restless legs, furtive glances at wristwatches, or reading the bulletin.

Enough on the length, what about the bombs? Charlie started by teling us that there were important lessons for the reader whenever those around Jesus are presented as "Dum Dums" (I once was called to the carpet for using that descriptive in the work place)then he proceeded to tell us why we need to be educated. The inappropriate words "The child needs to learn not to put his finger in the asp hole" certainly woke us dum dums up. I felt like the Samaritan woman at that point. As if to read her thoughts, "Is this person really talking to me this way and what does he mean? All I wanted was a drink of water. After all, I had a rough night."
I think if Charlie wrote out his sermon instead of wingng it, he could have chosen "Don't go poking a stick into a snake pit" as a better choice of words.

The sermon scored hits when focusing on God's love for all of us sinners. The sermon was off target when Charlie's told us of the veneration of the Samaritan lady as the "First Evangelist." Since Jesus did not shake his finger and say "Get away from me you horrible woman" or even say, "Go and sin no more," this may have seemed to indicate Divine acceptance of the Samaritan woman's lifestyle. I don't think you can read lifestyle acceptance (approval) into these verses. To me the story shows how one can engage with the sinner, drink with, or dine with the sinner as a ministry. As you do they may open their eyes and hear the Word. Jesus does this time and time again to the consternation of those around Him.

Perhaps this is an argument that should be considered by those deciding to attend Lambeth: Engagement does not mean acceptance, except most of us Dum Dums in the world can't help but see it that way and will need some explanation.


  1. Anonymous3:03 PM

    I believe Charlie was on course and used his time well. He did not say anything about the child needing to learn not to put his finger in the asp hole. The reference of “the living water,” and the hour to come in John was previously described in Isaiah.

    4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

    5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

    6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

    7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

    8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

    9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

    Going back to John, it was all about accepting her, acceptance does not mean he endorses her acts, but the alternative of course is to judge her, or as I see it, her sins are worse than mine.

  2. To most ear witnesses I have spoken to the asp hole comment was accurate. If the reference was quoted accurately we would have not been shocked. This is another argument for writing out your sermon beforehand. The pewpeople are not well enough versed in the Bible to recognize the reference as evidenced by the giggles and arched eyebrows. I appreciate your help in finding the reference. Since we do not know our Bible then maybe we need to go back and stress fundamentals. For example let us read the parts of the psalms that sound bloodthirsty or vengeful instead of the expurgated versions we are treated to on Sundays.