Faithlife Sermons


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FAITH AND IDENTITY-Donald Strobe tells a powerful story in one of his ser­mons. It comes from Alex Haley's book ROOTS [(by way of William Willimon's book, REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE, (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1980) p. 113.] I have heard it used by other pastors very effectively. It is that memorable scene of the night the slave Kunta Kinte drove his master to a ball at a big plantation house. Kunta Kinte heard the music from inside the house, music from the white folk's dance. He parked the buggy and settled down to wait out the long night of his master's revelry. While he sat in the buggy, he heard other music coming from the slaves' quarters . . . the little cabins behind the big house. It was dif­ferent music, music with a different rhythm. He felt his legs carrying him down the path toward those cabins. There he found a man playing African Music ,HIS music, which he remembered hearing in Africa as a child—the music he had al­most forgotten. Kunta Kinte found that the man was from his section of Africa. They talked excitedly in his native language of home and the things of home. That night, after returning from the dance, Kunta Kinte went home a changed man. He lay upon the dirt floor of his little cabin and wept, weeping in sadness that he had almost forgotten, weeping in joy that he had at last remembered. The terrifying, degrading experience of slavery had almost obliterated his memory of who he really was. But the music helped him remember.

Jesus told another story of a lost boy who wandered into a far country. . .

OBEDIENCE TO GOD~You may remember that in the Greek myths the two brothers, Atlas and Prometheus, went to war against the authority of Zeus, "father of the gods." Subsequently they were punished for their misdoing. Atlas forever thereafter was to "bear the weight of the heavens" on his shoulders. Prometheus was chained to a rock and endured perpetual torture. Our Chris­tian understanding of life is that God does not punish us for our iniquity or reward us for our virtue. This is not to say, however, that there is not a price that must be paid. I like what E. Stanley Jones used to say, "We don't break God's laws. We break ourselves on His laws. Of course Lent and Easter are the great reminder that Christ has paid the price for our sins. They are no longer a bar­rier to salvation. But still they are costly in broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives.

In the entertaining movie "Oh, God!" The grocery store manager played by John Denver, asks God, played by George Burns, what good coming among people and talking to them might do. God replies: "You never know ... a seed here, a seed there, something will take hold and grow."

PRS 4/88 FAITH-1


When Luther encountered his bouts with deep and dark despair, he always cheered himself up by repeating to himself the Latin words: "Baptizatus sum!" I have been baptized! I belong to God! And that knowledge gives us the courage to keep on keeping on. Even in the rivers and jungles of life.

Anne Raver received a call from a lady about Easter lilies blooming in early November. The woman had just been to a wake for her friend's mother and given a donation to the Franciscans in her name. The next day at St. Francis' Church she saw the lilies and thought there was a mystical, spiritual sign in them. Some­thing good would happen.

Raver thought Matthew 6 and Jesus speaking, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow

Jesus was telling people not to bother with material worries. Don't worry about Wall street because God will take care of it, if you have the faith.

Anne Raver drove to the church and sure enough there were the Easter lilies all around the statue of St. Francis, waving in the chilly air. The pastor came out and said that the church had been planting the Easter lilies there—in that vicinity—for years after the Easter services. They grew every year.

Not wanting to appear superstitious, she checked with the New York Botani­cal Garden and found that this was not unusual. Raver said this was not what she expected. "These guys are always so depressingly down-to- earth. I'd wanted something inexplicable."

The Pastor had said, "Some people are attuned to a certain kind of spirituality, and when there is confluence of events—such as the death (of her friend's mother) named Frances, blooming next to St. Francis—these people are likely to see those events as more than just a coincidence. Others would see it as pure chance."

Raver said that even common things are miracles such as breathing the ocean air, walking the beach, work, play. Some would say that the dream of St. Francis was not a vision but a case of a man having been drunk. But Francis called it a vision and look what he accomplished.

"Some people believe that God makes the lilies bloom. This gives them strength to face the . . . morning. Some say it's just botany. That's enough of a miracle for them. But I think we're all hoping, secretly or not, for something in­explicable. "-(NEWSDAY, Long Island, NY, 11-5-87, Part III p. 5)

PRS 4/88 FAITH -2

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