Sermon – May 31st, 2015 – Confirmation Sunday
Reverend Lisa Day
Thanks. I needed that.
The episodes here remind me a lot of Martin Buber’s “Legends of the Baal Shem”, a collection of fantastic, sometimes absurd folk tales centered around the teachings of the holy man.
Were the Elisha tales intended to be taken literally? I can’t divine the intent. More importantly, did they really happen? I guess that question will continue to divide believers. What is clear is the reality of siege starvation.
One of my all-time favorites.
(Notice that the young girl taken captive does not bear her captor ill will, but on the contrary reaches out to help him.)
Naaman is the star of the show. He travels (not a small thing in those days) carrying with him about 900 pounds of precious metal and other gifts, as well as enough men and animals to carry the load. He goes to all this trouble to be cured, but when he comes to that last…little…thing… that he has to do for himself, he can’t do it. It’s not worth it, he thinks.
So we stumble along. Doing the right things, the hard things, going forward in our faith…but sometimes I come to that last little thing that will complete the circle and allow the miracle to happen, and i just can’t, or won’t do it.
Yesterday’s old testament reading, which I just got to today: 1 Kings 22, the final chapter. A tale of intrigue, kind of obvious but it grips me nevertheless. This new character, Micaiah, is introduced. Knowing that Ahab is cynical and mistrustful, he does a mind-f* on him. In 22:15-16, he is being openly sarcastic, and Ahab senses this. But in 22:19-23 he is telling him the truth and trying to warn him. He’s telling him that God’s spirit servant has already used mind control on the prophets. This might be a cue to Ahab that Micaiah is using the same technique on him. Aha has a choice. But being mistrustful by nature, he probably doesn’t know what to believe, and is going to do what he wants anyway. Micaiah knows this.
It also strikes me that 22:24-25 parallels the book of John, 18:19-24. After Jesus is arrested, he gets slapped around a lot. But his reactions to being slapped are not recorded anywhere in the NT, except in this one passage. He is being interrogated by the high priest, and says something snarky to him. A temple guard slaps him. Jesus does not turn the other cheek; he says to the guard, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
This is a first draft, and bear in mind that I’m a person who has no problem trying out a brand new recipe when guests are coming over for dinner. I’m really no good at breaking these down, so here are some thoughts and learnings from our collective experience with art ministry projects.
Rather than trying to lay out general principles or methods, I’ll just tell you, specifically, how I did it.
When I was first formulating the idea, and when it was approved by Session, it was announced in the various church information channels, of course. But I didn’t do a “call for volunteers” which I find is rarely an effective way to gain support for a project. I did targeted recruiting; I walked up to two or three people who I knew had the necessary talent and skills and made a personal appeal for them to join. One was a fabric artist and clothing designer, and one was a mechanical engineer who could work creatively in almost any medium. Four years later, they still form the backbone of the committee.
We didn’t know at first what we would need, never having done this before. We got an initial grant from Session of $2500 for the year. We always keep an eye on cost, and we are all good shoppers, as well as recyclers. Since we buy material in bulk we shop the internet where we get the best deals. Scrounged materials (a great deal of cardboard is discarded by the company I work for) are also used.
This is a project that is long overdue. Who is this for?
This is primarily for the members of FPCH who follow in the work of art ministry. It will make an attempt to catalog and explain and provide instruction in the workings of the structures and major installations. Perhaps it will also serve as inspiration for those in other churches who would like to start their own AM group.
I’ll also share some of the major learnings of the AM committee from its inception in summer 2011 until the present. At this writing, summer 2015, we have been in practice for four years. In the meantime, feel free to post, comment or ask questions on this blog. Or show up in person at an Art Ministry Monday night workshop if you just want to see how things work. No obligation.
≡ When I started the Art Ministry at First Presbyterian four years ago, the church was in need of healing. Perhaps it was given to us in response to that need. Since then it has attracted numerous members – young families in particular have been uniformly vocal in their support and enthusiasm for this arm of worship. Continue reading
Probably one of our more elaborate installations, Pentecost is as it should be– over the top. Flaming. Overwhelming and joyous, startling and spectacular. Our fabric installation on the rear wall and the fabric over the main window constitute walls of flame, not the destructive kind, the inspirational, warm, life giving fire of the Holy Spirit. Likewise the hanging banners envelop the entire sanctuary with their bright colors, nearly touching us in our worship gathering. The medallions on either side of the main window are painted representations of the dove that descended on Christ as he came up from baptism by John the Baptist. They are meant to signal change, redemption, a new beginning, and a surrender of our old way of life as we become new members of god’s family and walk in our new life in the Lord.
Today’s reading is 1 Kings 8 and 9. Reading about the building of the temple, the details of the accoutrements and paraments, the gold and bronze ornaments and structures, is a dark read if you know the endgame as it devolves at the end of 2 Kings. I feel the tension reading this, since all that was built will be broken and taken away.