Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wisdom of the King

After a warm greeting Pastor Brad explained the seasons of the church year – Lent, Pentecost, etc. -- and that this is Christ the King Sunday as we prepare for Advent.

The Inviting everyone to join us for informal adult Sunday school gatherings Dec 9 chili feed… Men as Peacemakers afternoon Dawn shared: Salvation Army adopt-a-family wish list is in the back of the sanctuary

The Scripture reading today was from John 18:33-37, a passage dense with profound insights, the encounter between Pilate and the Christ:

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

After the worship time, Duayne Anderson shared with us some notes from this past week’s leadership meeting. He talked briefly about the work that is being done through the Covenant church around the world using the funds we generously give from our weekly offerings. Millions of dollars of free care has been provided for handicapped, medical care in the Congo, support for churches in 38 countries and more. Our church is part of something much larger than what we simply do here.

Our time of prayer made us aware again of the many needs in our church family as we lifted up them up.

The Wisdom of the King

Pastor Shannon gave himself a task this week: to find something to tell us to help us deal with the times we live in. In this case he chose as his source the wisdom of another man’s pen, a man named Agur. Agur was so wise that God chose to include some of his wisdom in the Scripture. Proverbs 30:24-28.

Instead of focusing on big leaders and big creatures, he chose small, unattractive creatures, modeling down, not up.

24 “Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 conies are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Some people live in the past, always thinking about what was, with regret or comfort. Some live in the present, their motto being "Now is the accepted time." Some live in the future. Like Annie they sing, "Tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow"… or like Dorothy, "Somewhere over the rainbow..."

Ants work in summer to prepare for the winter that lies ahead.

Brad used the ant to remind us how important it is that that we be people of the Word. Proverbs, repeatedly reminds people to read and understand and know the word of God. Our lesson from the ant is this: Take advantage of the summer, because the winter lies ahead.

There are many ways we experience winter. Unexpected disease, children that reject us and our values, job loss... In a variety of ways we see winter coming, with its broken hopes, broken dreams and broken hearts.

We live in a culture with much winter. For many life itself is like Narnia when it was ruled by the White Witch, always winter and never Christmas.

Though ants have little strength they know they must use the summer to prepare for the winter than lies ahead. Message: We must be people of the Word in preparation for the winters that comes for all. It takes time to study the Bible… it is work, but it’s like taking vitamins. It is a daily regimen that strengthens us for life.

Conies are creatures of little power that make their home in the rocks. Coney is another name for the rock badger. They're grey, the color of rocks. When predators come, they hide in the rocks. They know where their security lies.

If you have the wisdom of a badger, you will know where your security is. It lies in a relationship to God. Knowledge about God is not the same thing as knowing God and having a relationship with Him. Knowing about the Bible does not mean we know God.

Two things of note regarding the coney:
1. He’s got sense enough to know his weaknesses
2. He’s got sense enough to know his strength

"The locusts have no king but they advance together in ranks."

A grasshopper by itself is not very formidable, but joined together they have power. A swarm of locusts did 500 million dollars damage on the plains at the beginning of the last century. When we think of swarms of locusts and Scripture, the word that comes to mind is plague.

The more positive reference to locusts applies to our relationship to the body of Christ, the community of believers. You can’t be a Christian alone. You must be with other Christians. Christians together have power.

When Jesus sent out His disciples he sent them out two by two, not alone. The apostle Paul made a mark on history but he did not do it alone. He was linked with many others.

The New Testament is filled with the message of community. We need others and they need us. If you just go to church and don’t get involved, you are not going to make it or make the difference God intended you to make.

We are the body of Christ. The Lord's prayer begins, "Our Father..." You can’t go it alone.

A lizard can be caught with a hand yet is found in king’s palaces."

Small, unattractive, yet in the presence of a king. It’s incongruous. The image of grace embedded in this.

Brad told a story about trying to remove a screw once, and how impossible it was until someone showed him that it was not a typical screw and had to be turned the opposite way of all the usual screws most of us use. “It took me 30 years to learn the way to turn a screw," Brad said, "and now they changed the rules?” It was a reverse screw.

Everything in culture is at odds with truth. In God's equation, the way up is down. The way to rule is to serve. God' way is to elect and use the ordinary, not the Donald Trumps of the world. The ordinary, the fallen the broken will one day live in the King’s palace.

Pastor Brad cited a passage from C.S. Lewis' essay The Weight of Glory to underscore that there are no ordinary Christians.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.... People small, and frail and not particularly attractive will one day be in God’s palace."

Summing up...

Four things on earth are very small, but if you could sit at their feet -- if you could find their feet -- you could learn some lessons. From the any you learn the value of knowing the times, knowing that today is summer and that winter is coming. From the coney you understand the need to know where your security is, that your security is in the Rock. From the locust you discover that your power is in community, rather than being a rugged individualist who foes it alone. If you have the perspective of a lizard, you see God’s incongruity. As you look at others you realize that these men and women with whom you share life here are destined to live in the presence of the King of Heaven.

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