Thursday, October 17, 2013

WALK IN WONDER; a sermon by Bob Ellis

June 18, 2013, 11:36 AM

WALK IN WONDER; a sermon by Bob Ellis

Acts 13:1-11
“They were filled with wonder and amazement”
I am going to look at this story in a way that is a little different than the way we often look at scripture.
I am going to put myself in the picture  -- and perhaps you will be able to put yourselves in the picture also.
In some ways I am the man by the gate.
Remember???   He was sitting by the temple gate, crippled to the point that he could not walk.
Ol’ Peter came by  --  took his hand  --  pulled him up, and this crippled man walked away under his own power.
AND THE PEOPLE WHO SAW HIM WERE FILLED WITH WONDER AND AMAZEMENT.
(At least some of them were.)
I would suggest that is my story,  and perhaps is is yours also.
Sometimes my days get to seeming all the same,  every thing is as usual.  (My friends help me to my place by the gate.)
Life starts to get BORING.
You may know the story  --  even the crises are usual.
And I would confess that there is a part of me that likes it that way. It is familiar, and comfortable.
But, there is another part of me that likes excitement; there is another part of me that is not crippled; a part of me that needs the fresh flavor of looking at things in a new way.
And sometimes it takes conflict to cause that to happen.   
Conflict may not be pleasant; but it is not all bad.
It is not all bad because it creates a tension that  (allows or causes take your pick)  things to move and change.
I would guess that you have heard the some variation of this old story about the woman who cut the drumsticks off every turkey she cooked.  Finally one of her kids  - the trouble maker  - asked her why she did that. She didn’t know, but that was the way her mother always did it.
So the kids asked their grandmother about it and learned that when her family was young it was during the depression and they had to make everything stretch. (I don’t suppose any of you remember those days.) She used the drumsticks and the bones from the carcass to make soup.
The daughter was crippled in her outlook; she never made soup, she just threw the drumsticks away with the rest the carcass.
I suppose that we all have our ruts, and stay in them long after their usefulness has passed.
(Someone suggested that a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.)
Remember the story of Nicodemus  -  he was in a rut when he asked Jesus, “How can I be born again when I am old?”
I would suggest that that is a good question for me, and maybe for you too.
After my divorce I lived by myself for about two years and I discovered that I did a lot of things just because I always did them that way before.
But I also discovered that I could do things in a different way  --  and   --  the new way worked because almost everything can be done in more that one way.  WOW
(Virginia Satir, a serious scholar, once did a whimsical study and reported that there are 255 ways to wash dishes.)
(One of the presenters in the video we saw for the adult study group says that the Hubble telescope and other similar instruments are giving us information about the universe so fast that scientists cannot keep up  getting it cataloged;
But what we have is just about 2 and a half percent of what is there  --  so with all we know about the vast reaches of space, there is still about 97 and a half percent that we don’t know.)
One thing I do to move from HELP to THANKS and then to WOW is to slow down. (Carol finds it difficult to believe that I could slow down from my already slow pace.) I do know how to do that. Early this week I went into Carols garden. The neighbors were trimming their hedge and at first all I could hear was the drone of the gas clippers. But I took a couple of deep breaths and walked the path. First I heard the Ospry – they are loud and strident and hard to miss. However by the time I made the loop I was hearing the various sounds of the stream, all kinds of birds, and the hedge trimmers not so much.
On our last vacation we drove some on the freeway because we needed to get to Colorado within a certain time frame and we drove through some beautiful country. When we left Colorado we were hurrying to Arches and Canyon Lands national parks. But when got close to Moab Utah we left the freeway for Utah route 128, a two lane road that insisted we slow down as we drove past the Colorado River and the Eastern side of Arches National Park  -  WOW what beautiful scenery.  What a wondrous world in which we live.
One of my seminary classmates took advantage of a long weekend (three days). He came back telling us what a wonderful vacation it had been.  They saw ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK,  GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, SALT LAKE CITY.
I guess there could have been more, but they got stuck in a bear jam in Yellowstone and lost some time.
In our irreverent way we rush through life, so much to see and do; -- but on our way we are discourteous to beauty and THANKS and WOW.
To live with WOW is to walk slowly.
I know that I am not the only one who has come to the place of WOW  --  I would like to hear some of your experience  -  and remember that the wow moments are not all earth shattering events  - not all like the man who had been lame all his life and now could walk  -   what were some of your WOW moments in the recent past?
I believe that WONDER lets us look at things that are so familiar that our tired eyes don’t really see them anymore and then see new meanings in them.
A mother wrote this free form verse about her son:
Phillip is five
Every inch alive.
After a rain he watched the birds bathing.
“What are you doing, Phillip?
“Just lookin at things,
just loving the world.”

I believe we all need to do that more;
  Just look at things…
     Just love the world
I read once of a woman who was confined to her bed which had been placed by a window.
She liked to look at the stars at night, which was ok by her.
She said, “So many people have been kind to me.
I pick out a star and say,
‘THAT ONE IS MOM, and that one, the twinkling one, that is my brother.
That one is the man across the street who waves at me every day when he goes to work and when he comes home.
BUT, she said,  THERE AREN’T ENOUGH STARS TO GO AROUND.
She may be crippled, but she walks outside that condition all the time.
I believe that is what  God wants for all of us;
     TO WALK OUTSIDE OF OUR CONDITION.
Crippled by boredom, our limiting conditions,
Walking into a new world;
          A world filled with wonder and amazement.

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