Sermon: “17 Good Ideas on Father’s Day” Rev. Stephen R. Carnahan
‘Father’s Day & Juneteenth’
- GALATIANS 5:22 “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
OK, number one of the 17 is actually 9 things. But also one thing—it’s the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. And here’s a good idea for 2017. Let these things grow in your life. The fact is, God is working to bring these things out, but you can cooperate. You are the gardener. God creates the seeds and sends the sun and rain, but you work the soil. Think about this. Wouldn’t you like to come to New Year’s Day next year with the awareness that you are a more loving, joyful, and peaceful person? Wouldn’t you like to bring in 2018 as a person who is more patient, kind and good than you are now? Wouldn’t you like to be more faithful, more gentle, and be a more disciplined person? So the good idea is this: open your soul to the Holy Spirit. Watch for these things growing and let them grow. Be, at the end of this year, someone who more closely reflects Jesus Christ to our world.
- MATTHEW 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
This world is tricky. On the one hand, you need to be aware that there are people out there who are up to no good. And some of them may want to hurt you. There are people out there who are looking out only for themselves, with no care for anyone else. So you go out into the world and be shrewd, or those wolves will eat you. BUT the world is full of people who are good and loving, in fact most people. You don’t want to go out in the world where there is kindness and goodness, and act with suspicion and fear. So do what Jesus says. Be shrewd and be innocent. Find that balance.
- “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” Maryanne Radmacher.
My daughter sent me this one. And I think it really says it well. Those wolves in number two are going to get you sometimes. You are going to fail in your goals, and you are going to break off some of the blossoming fruit of the Spirit. But you can go to bed and try again tomorrow. Sometimes you are going to be discouraged and defeated. You are. What will you do then? Be courageous enough to try again. What’s our benediction? Keep alert, stand firm in the faith—. Was 2016 a hard year? Yes, maybe so. If so, then try agin tomorrow.
- “How many roads must a man walk down before you will call him a cab?”
My brother sent this one. And he was being a wise guy. Who gets the reference: Bob Dylan, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” This original song was about dignity. How much do we ask of people before we are willing to give them dignity, a song that has great meaning in view of the prejudice, bigotry that is part of our society. And my brother’s little joke, despite his intention, is really a question about compassion. How long will we let someone suffer before we have compassion on them. Here’s an idea for 2017: Let’s try to treat each other with dignity and compassion on whatever road we find them.
- I’m not born again–I’m still in labor.
This phrase, “Born Again,” was spoken by Jesus, though it’s not a great translation of what Jesus said. It has been latched onto by a particular religious expression with some, and it’s almost become a membership card. Have you ever been asked if you’ve been born again? The problem is that it sounds like, and is used like, something that happens suddenly and just once. But following Jesus is a process. It is something we grow into. I don’t know of anyone who has fully attained it. I’m in the process of being born again. So if someone in 2017 asks you this question, it might be a good idea to say, “No, I’m still in labor.”
- When you pray for someone you must believe that God can work through you, otherwise, it’s just going to hit the ceiling and come back. –Darrell Giles, Sr.
Darrell is just a guy I went to High school with. But I love this point. Our prayers in 2017 cannot be, “God fix this.” They must be, “God, help me fix this.” It reminds me of God’s call to Moses. “Moses, I have seen the suffering of my people and have decided to save them. So you go to Pahroah and…”
- Some times we don’t recognize the noise around us until it stops and all we hear is silence.
Have you had one of those moments when you realize no one is really watching the TV, but its shouting at you anyhow? And you turn it off and are suddenly overwhelmed by the silence? Remember to do that. Turn things off. Turn off the sound. God doesn’t shout. You need silence to hear. Are you getting your minimum daily requirement of stillness? Be still my soul…
- Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving
You can open that package every day all year. Guilt is ours once we take it. And it may be well deserved! But you can’t live there. You have to let it go at some point. Let yourself be forgiven. Or forgive. Guilt saps you of your ability to move forward, to make changes to grow deeper in faith. To hold onto it is to say that Christ died for nothing. Let yourself be forgiven. You may still carry the sorrow for what you’ve done or the regret, but the crushing load of guilt that tells you that you do not deserve to be loved or respected? That gift needs to get put on the curb with your dead Christmas tree.
- “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. ” –J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you know what character this was spoken to? Frodo. The hobbit. Do you have any idea of what I’m saying? There were many characters in this book, but Tolkien was telling us what he had found to be true—that the ordinary, courageous acts of everyday people was what made the difference in the world. It is not our armed services that make this country great—it is the teachers in the classrooms. The EMTs on the ambulances. The bureaucrats in their offices making sure things are done well. It’s you and the way you treat your neighbor.
- “No one can live only on food.” Luke 4:4
Jesus said this in the desert, when he was fasting, going without food, while he prayed in the solitude of the barren land. He recognized that we have appetites and they keep us alive. But we don’t always have them in the right order. And we need to remember that in our daily struggle of daily life, there are spiritual matters that must be faced and attained. You need to feed your soul. That’s a good idea for 2017—take care of your soul.
- If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from the problem. –Amos Wilson
I think this is worth keeping in mind. Maybe it’s more of a political thing than a spiritual one, but there is always overlap. If it is true, that it is the small, the ordinary, that God uses, then we need to be careful about blaming the small and ordinary for the troubles around us. Let’s begin with an inclination toward the needs of the poorest, smallest and weakest. It is unlikely it is refugees that are the problem in the world. Who causes there to be refugees? That’s the trouble.
- JOHN 8:7 “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.”
As Jesus so clearly demonstrated when the powerful people in town brought a young woman that they said was the source of the trouble. It wasn’t her sinfulness, he pointed out, that was at issue but the judgmental, unfeeling sinfulness of the men of position and power that was the problem. Here’s a good idea for the year. Let’s remember that we are all fallen short of God’s ideal.
- “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” –from War Games
An old movie from 30 or more years ago. It was about a computer that had been designed to learn from experience, and thus was capable of developing the nuclear strategy for the US government. Eventually it learned this truth about war. But it applies to more than war—it’s so true of our relationships. When we play games with each other, we all lose. When we seek to gain the advantage over each other, we all lose.
- MICAH 6:8 And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Can you remember three things? Then remember these. Put them on a sign in your home. This was Micah’s answer to the question of what God wants from us. Not huge offerings and sacrifices. Not elaborate religious rituals, But simply this: Act with justice. Be merciful. Be humble in your life with God. That’s all. 2017 will be a good year if we do this.
- LUKE 9:24 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will save it.
We clutch. We grasp. But we are created to release. As long as our lives are about ourselves, we are destroying them. When life is about serving Christ and the people Christ loved, we begin to find the things we really need. Here’s a good idea for the new year. Live your life for Christ, not for self.
- Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.
Hope. Here’s hope. And reality. Because among us in this world are many saints. In this room are many saints. And all of them can tell you about sometime when they were not saints. But they are now. And among us are many sinners, who may well become saints someday. Reality. And hope. Two good ideas for 2017
- MATTHEW 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jesus said this in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount. He had been talking about the things we need in life. He was saying that we worry too much about a lot of that, and I think we probably do. I do. But what Jesus would like us to be anxious about is finding God’s world. The kingdom of God, the Realm of Heaven. It’s here. It’s all around us, and we can live in it, but we need to seek for it. So there’s a good idea. For 2017 make your first task the finding of the Realm of God. Find it and live in it.