Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adders, Lions, Sheep, Slaves, Cannibals, and Bishop Nominees

So many thoughts, so little time, and so short a blog with which to tie them all together.

Today's service at ECOOS was rather remarkable for breaking a recent string of bad sermons with a sermon that, while focusing on a theme of the use of power for people rather than over them, was able to keep within the framework of today's scripture readings. This was one of those Sundays where there were choices in the readings, and we had chosen for us Isaiah 53:4-12 which I cannot let pass by without another read.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

The last time I thought about this one was during Holy Week, and it was interesting to have it come around at this time of the year. It is incredibly rich, and would have been a good subject for a sermon itself. As it was, my attention was led to the lines,

"All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

Handel of course picked these words for use in "Messiah," but I heard a youth choir sing a different version over at You Tube. Here it is for your listening pleasure.

Or for those of you who prefer Handel:

Psalm 91:9-16 was the lectionary choice for today with its memorable,
"For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot."

We have to thank those angels that our toes will not get stubbed so that our feet will be healthy enough to tread on those lions and adders.

Then we heard Hebrews 5:1-10 which began,
"Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was"

This had my mind drifting off to think about those called to stand for election as the next bishop of our diocese. I may have to send a humility quotient to each of those guys.

Lastly, we heard Mark 10:35-45 which also seemed to send a message to the candidates for bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina in verses 43-44.
"But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all."

Now, cover your eyes boys and girls, but I have to apologize for the next image. I couldn't resist the title:

Curiously, the title contained five possible labels for our bishop candidates. It is too soon to apply the labels, but right now I am looking at the Lion, the Slave, and the Sheep closely. I'll try to not put the nominees in a pressure cooker, but I will keep an eye out for anything spicy to season them with.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Love the movie poster. Ursula Andress is always a favorite. Please post more of these.