1 Samuel 16:1-13
"Who Would Have Thought"
On this final Sunday of the liturgical year – a Sunday which we call “Christ the King” – we ask
ourselves a question: Who would have thought?
Who would have thought that a little shepherd boy could be king? Certainly Samuel never
would have thought it. One day, the Lord called Samuel and instructed him to pay a visit to a
cat named Jesse in the little town of Bethlehem. There, he would find the one whom God had
ordained to be predecessor to Saul as the next king of Israel.
"A Crumby Story"
One of the things I personally find most appealing about the historical Jesus is how open He
was to people; to all kinds of people. Will Rogers once stated that he never met a man he didn’t
like. It seems Jesus never met a person He didn’t love. People from every imaginable situation
and circumstances found themselves comfortable in Jesus’ presence. Although He spoke with
remarkable power and authority, Jesus didn’t come across as stuffy, or pretentious, or arrogant.
"COME AND SEE"
John 1:35-46 Psalm 66:1-5
This morning, we bring our attention to the first chapter of John’s Gospel. The Gospel according to John opens with that well-known prologue in which Jesus is identified as the very word of God made flesh; the true light of the world which shines in the darkness. John puts it this way: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John then proceeds to interweave the story of John the Baptist into the prologue, making it clear by John’s own admission that he himself was not the light, but the one sent to bear witness to the light. That brings us to this morning’s passage – about halfway through the first chapter – wherein Jesus begins calling the first of those who would become his inner-circle of disciples. Let’s pick up the action there.
I wish I remembered more about my grandfather Lalama. He died in 1964 when I was just eight. Yet I carry his name: Lorenzo Giacomo, or the English version, Lawrence Jame. And now my grandson carries his name and mine. We call him “LJ.” Two things I do remember clearly. One was his meatballs. I don’t know what my grandfather Lawrence did, but the taste of the meatballs he produced remains in my taste bud memory. A second thing I remember was his thickly-accented voice when he would call my name. Instead of coming out Larry, it sounded in my ears like he was saying “Laddy.” And it goes without saying that he favored me; his first-born grandson; his namesake. It’s been said that I could do no wrong in his eyes.
Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20
Psalm 85: 8-13
"We Don't Need Another Hero"
Perhaps the most unforgettable photograph in the annals of American history – which also
stands as a powerful image honoring our veterans -- is the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. For those
who weren’t paying attention in American History class, Iwo Jima is a mere dot in the Pacific Ocean
where the United States needed a landing strip for bombers striking Japan during WWII. Some
estimated 60,000 marines were sent to take it from a dug-in enemy. “The thing I’ll remember for-
ever,” recounted the late Major General Fred Haynes of the 28th marine regiment, “was the
courage and the guts of the kids…. and these were young kids.” They may have been kids, but they
were also heroes.
Matthew 1: 18-25
Last Sunday, we posed the question: Why Mary? This morning, we ask another: Why Joseph?
Actually, there’s not a lot of information provided about Joseph in the gospels. The most we learn
about Jesus’ earthly father is based on Matthew’s narrative. So we turn our attention to that 1st
chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew.
A teenage girl sits on the edge of her straw-filled mattress. Her room is simply furnished. We notice a small oil lamp and water jug; a couple of blankets and a wrinkled rug. She draws our attention as she sits near the center of the picture. Yet we immediately notice that her attentionis directed elsewhere. She cocks her head at a curious angle as she looks toward a numinous beam of light at the foot of her bed. This is how 19th century painter Henry Ossawa Tanner envi- sioned what he simply titled “The Annunciation.” It hangs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We see in Tanner’s work the vulnerable humanity of a peasant girl. This stands in stark contrast to the surrealness of the heavenly being, painted as that shaft of light. This is precisely Mary’s situation recorded in the first chapter of Luke.
There’s a story of a life insurance salesman who visited a woman who had recently been widowed. For forty-five years, her husband had sacrificed much in order to keep up on his substantial life insurance policy. The agent said to the woman, “Your husband often told me how determined he was that you be well-provided for after he was gone. So I’m glad to present to you, as sole beneficiary, this check in the amount of 1.8 million dollars.” The widow tearfully accepted the check, wiped her eyes, and said, “But nothing can replace that wonderful husband of mine who left me this fortune. But I can tell you this. I’d give at least half a million to have him back again.”
A Dreaded Confrontation
Genesis 27:1-41 (CEV) Genesis 33:1-11 (CEV)
Talk about pulling a fast one! And, on a twin brother, no less. But that’s what the story’s about: a well-orchestrated conspiracy in which Jacob stole his brother, Esau’s full share of the family inheritance. You see, mother Rebekah always loved Jacob best. He was delivered just seconds after Esau. But Jacob was the weaker; the more vulnerable; the fair-haired child who, in his weakness and vulnerability, captured his mother’s heart. Today, we’d pejoratively call Jacob a “mama’s boy.”