Lectionary Year B
April 27, 2003

Psalm 133
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) Psalm 133 lends itself to inspire a sermon that highlights unity, harmony and true togetherness as exceedingly important for believers. Corporate relationships and cooperation among colleagues in the faith can be encouraged and stipulated to be inestimably beneficial.

B. Describing the Auditors

(JFC) This sermon could uplift and give advantageous help to any congregation having any isolationists and/or hierarchies of any sort. It will be preached in a place where I worship regularly and serve as Parish Associate, a substantial congregation of 300+ members, with over a hundred attending weekly and involved in many multi-ethnic ministries as well. The members are well-educated, several therapists, some partnering with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary faculty members, for example. The music is excellent, recently being led by a young Lithuanian native in her first paid job as a choir director! The Education programs are led by a seminarian who has applied for the Associate Minister's position that has been vacant for 2 years while she took a year off seminary to serve as an Intern as Associate for Education on the staff.

C. Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Goodness in Togetherness and in Messiness, Too"

If anyone feels lonely, left out, left behind and/or disconnected, Psalm 133 might bring some relief. Edwin Markham's "Outwitted": He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But God and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in. So, how did God and you/I do that inclusively? Well, let's see if today's Psalm tells us.

I. God's Gifts = Principles
A. Describing Biblical bAJ and contrasting it to popular misconceptions of what is currently thought to be good and what is humanly judged to be less than good, i.e., bad. Togetherness, harmony, unity are good. Recall any homecoming, return from an extended trip away and/or a family reunion. Good stuff. In Genesis 1:31b, God calls all created, "very good". James 1:17 claims, Every good comes from above." God made Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Are they good? Certainly documents describe that they have done evil things. Still, were they good and had to learn to do bad things? Did their lives' experiences teach them to disrespect life, to retaliate, for example? What influences have led us to do better more than to do worse? Life is good for us.

B. Describing Biblical dx;y" and contrasting it to popular shallow ideas, re: unity/harmony/togetherness. Real togetherness, lasting harmony, true unity are exemplified in Jesus' closeness to God and that same closeness is ours for the asking. Old Testament People of God valued living together, see Deuteronomy 25:5. "Living together" is by its nature, "a pleasant act", according to Brown, Driver and Briggs.

II. God's Choosing, like Aaron, for Example = People
A. God ordains Aaron a priest, the primary priest of ancient Israel, with a ritual of olive oil poured on the head, etc. God chooses such unlikely examples as Aaron, Saul of Tarsus, you and me, the Egyptian slaves, the nomads, the kidnapped and returning Exiles. God sets us apart to be the church, calls us apart from the world (ekklhsia) for a season of preparation. We are in this process corporately, each one helping others. The movie, "Places in the Heart" shows how different people help one in need to get a job done and the closing church worship service screens communion's victorious glories.

B. Declaring God's generosity in sustaining the elect for exemplary service to the divine will. Jesus is a good example. He associated with the less fortunate of His day. God included the northerners and the southerners in Mount Hermon and on the mountains of Zion. Yankees as well as Confederates? Traditionalists as well as innovators? Liberals as well as Conservatives? Just how inclusive can God get? A spring rain brings new life to heretofore drought-burdened terrain. The many victims suffer from dysentery in Iraq where impure water has made sickness so rampant. God has ways of purifying water and the Synod of Living Waters, for one example, has portable units for use the world over, as we speak.

III. God's Providing = Providence
A. God supplies the necessary resources to sustain life, e.g., mist, water, food, air, etc. Story - During his many appearances in summer stock in the role of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," Robert Merrill learned to expect the unexpected. "One night on stage," he says, "as I implored God to give me a replacement for my horse which had lost its shoe, suddenly, a small, spotted dog walked onto the stage." "I looked up again and added fervently: 'Oh God, please try again.'" Submitted by Dicky Love, Christ Community Church, Ruston, Louisiana

B. God's greatest gift is life forevermore. This gift is the climax of Psalm 133, perhaps the catharsis toward which it has been aiming. Eternal life is the ultimate gift from God. That 19th century English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley had an interesting take on death. He poeticized it as, "He has outsoared the shadow of our night; Envy and calumny and hate and pain, and that unrest which men miscall delight, Can touch him and torture him not again; From the contagion of the world's slow stain, He is secure." And so we are - secure - in Christ.

God's blessings, not unlike those Jesus preaches about in the Sermon on the Mount, surprise and sustain us. They extend into and avail themselves to us here and now and forever after, as well. Thanks be to God.

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