Delightful

July 9, 2017

          The title of the message for today is “Delightful” but the Hebrew text into which we are delving is not quite there. Abraham’s wife Sarah, a biblical hero in her own right, had died and Abraham wanted to find a wife for his son Isaac, but that means Isaac’s Mom, Sarah, will have missed the wedding of her own son. Plus, you remember that Sarah had a hard time conceiving him in the first place so, there is sadness in the life of this family. However, the widower Abraham thought it was important to knuckle down, move forward and make things right again, looking for the next generation to improve things. We do that, don’t we? We get to a point in our lives where we may feel we should step out of the way so “the young people” can take over. That’s where Abraham is, at the end of his life, the scripture says. He wants to be happy, to rest in peace and he surely deserves it as he has truly been a good and faithful servant.

 

 

          The thing that bothers in this passage is that even though the beautiful Rebekah seems happy to be taken in to marry Isaac, she lacks control over the process. She is picked because she is good looking and because she says the right words at the right time about watering the servant’s camel as well as giving him a drink. She is, in effect, being the quintessential “good girl” doing all that is expected of her. I suppose that’s fine but it is a little boring to tell you the truth. Plus, as a Mom myself, I’m a little uncomfortable with how the so-called marriage or wedding goes. Basically, it happened like this; the servant prays for success to find the right virgin for his master, he finds her because she does and says all the predicted stuff, then he cuffs her and puts a ring in her nose (a sure sign of ownership if ever there was) and he brings her to the master who sleeps with her and THAT makes her his wife. There’s no engagement parties, no diamond ring, no wedding dress shopping, no bridal shower nor ceremonies we are accustomed to in our culture. She doesn’t seem to mind, but - maybe she should have. Rebekah was, after all, the “it” girl, the untouched, the one everyone wanted. If we are to be honest and modern about it, she had social capital but was not able to actually leverage it. The text says she’s okay with that, but I don’t know. Would you be? Would that be the way you would want to be betrothed and married? I know it is happening in the context of the culture and all, but still.

 

          Anyway, get this! The person in this text who does have a voice is the servant, a person who would not, generally speaking, have anything to say about anything. He is entrusted with much and given power that most servants did not enjoy. I bet that felt pretty good, but a huge responsibility. How does his master even know if he was telling the truth about Rebekah? We are taking his word for it because he is cast in the light of being an agent of God. She was very attractive but she was also kind and good. She was a delight in the eyes of her beholder. How nice it would be if we all could be Rebekah, smart, beautiful, sweet and kind. A delight to all, she sounds like the perfect princess in a fairy tale.

 

          Turning to the Gospel of Matthew text for today, Jesus delights and revels in the friendships of the people in his circle. These folks are not, as you might have thought, what society would consider the cream of the crop. He says in verse 25; “Thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” He is not really talking about babies, here. Jesus is not interested in the sweet and pretty, the glitterati, the cultured, the wealthy and untarnished people of the world. He offered love and comfort to people who needed him; poor people, differently abled people, unattractive or sick people and I think he still does. In the scripture, he continues in verses 28-29; “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest…For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.” What a beautiful promise he spoke to his people and still to us today. Jesus delighted in being with, and offering kindness to, so-called sinners and people who do not pretend to be what they are not. People with flaws and troubles, people who don’t have it all together.

 

          Let’s talk about you. What are some things, pictures, experiences that give you delight? When I am hiking in the woods, my dog Bella gets all excited and springs up and down on all four legs when she sees or even hears a chipmunk. She does it all the time, like it’s the first time. By doing so she reminds me how wonderful and exciting the smallest things in life can be, if you allow yourself to look at it in an open and innocent way. Somewhat like a baby does and that’s what Jesus was talking about. He advises us to see life through the eyes of a baby in order to enjoy and revel in it, however mundane it may actually be.

 

          You know what else I find delightful? When I see someone in the act of unexplained kindness to another person, just for the sake of it, being kind and generous. John and I have a daily journal called the 5-minute journal which Scott Galbraith kindly gave to me. It takes literally 5 minutes out of your day to do and it helps you keep track of your life and where you would like it to go. At the top of the page there are short aphorisms every day and the other day mine said to do this: “today make a sincere compliment to a perfect stranger.” I thought that was an excellent idea and find people are stunned by unsolicited compliments. I found a website called kindness.org which supplies ideas for doing random acts of kindness every day. It’s a nonprofit which believes small acts can have a big impact. Here are some challenges they offered: help someone carrying their grocery bags, give your seat up to someone else if you’re on public transportation, if you are staying at a hotel, don’t leave your towels on the hotel floor, keep some extra food in your car in case you run into a homeless person, or introduce yourself by name to a neighbor you don’t know and ask them their name. I did this the other day with a new neighbor and she seemed flabbergasted but genuinely appreciative.

 

          Do you have experiences like that which you can share this morning? Where in our community do people find kindness? Where are the places where people who are silenced, shut out, or putdown, go for refuge and solace? I hope Greendale People’s Church is such a place. Do we do enough kindness? Can there ever be enough? Do we give comfort to the poor and unwanted that may come through our doors, as Jesus did, offering food and drink, warm clothes and a place to rest? Do we encourage people to speak the truth in their hearts, laying down their burdens? How about in your own life, where do you experience Jesus’ “easy yoke and light burden?” I find meditation a great source of rest and it tunes me into a sense of oneness with my higher power. Sometimes, I put my ear buds on and listen to recorded sounds of a river traveling over rocks or the sea washing waves up on the beach. John delights in watching the parade of birds on the backyard deck of our little condo. When he is outdoors with his camera, his happiness is endless as bird songs lift the air and colorful feathers excite the eye.

 

          I wonder if we can do more to introduce that kind of joy and anticipation into our worships? Are there elements we could incorporate to make worship here at Greendale more interesting, more refreshing, more comforting? What do you think? I’d love your suggestions and participation. After we worship and enjoy our time together, do we take that experience out into the world? Do we exude the energy of discipleship in Christ in the world?

 

Donna Sinclair writes this in her book “The Long View”:

 

In Jewish theology, each human being carries within themselves the potential for both goodness and wickedness. That is what makes us humans. (Angels lack these passionate forces within.) Both energies - for good and for evil - are important…It might be a little boring to be an angel.…We are human. We have to be what we are. [1]

 

Let’s do that. Let’s be who we are and focus on doing kindness in the world. We just might find God in the midst of doing so. 

 

Amen.

 

 

 

[1] ~ Donna Sinclair, The Long View, an Elderwoman’s Book of Wisdom (p. 173)

 

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Greendale People's Church

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Phone: 508-852-7727

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office@greendalepeopleschurch.org

RevKev@greendalepeopleschurch.org

25 Francis Street 

Worcester, MA 01606

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