What Are You Waiting For?

This was, again, a bit different. We were off the lectionary for the day as I collaborated with an old friend and mentor, Pete Knapp. Pete had been my confirmation mentor, and had an amazing career doing research into Agricultural safety issues that led to much safer working conditions all over the world. In retirement, he dedicated his life to further helping farmers in the third world. It was on a mission trip to Honduras that he suffered a stroke in 2001, curtailing his efforts. When he asked me to help him deliver a sermon to the congregation, it was my honor to do so. Our question is this: what are you waiting for? How much time do you have left to do the things you need to do and show the love you need to show?

Sermon texts are 18:1-15 and John 12:27-36

Here is the Steeple

Preached July 22 at the Congregational Church in Iowa City.

Again, no final sermon text. Speaking somewhat extemporaneously seems to be working, I finally felt comfortable and in my groove again for the first time since, really, Beverly.

But this week’s sermon had to do with the temple of Solomon, and the disconnect between the prophet Nathan, who tells David that God will surely be pleased with a Temple, and God, who tells him that it is indeed flattering, but that the temple is not David’s to build. The lesson for today is that we put a lot of stock into our church buildings. We are proud of them. They are visible reminders of our history. But God reminds us here that as surely as God can find a home in a building, God was with the people outside, too. In a tent, in the wilderness, wherever people needed God, God was with them. This is a lesson that we need in the modern era; the building is great, but only if it is a vehicle for bringing God into the community. It is not enough for the building to be there; its presence must serve a purpose. Sometimes that’s a place to gather out among the houses, sometimes it’s a place to house the needy in the middle of a downtown area. Sometimes it’s providing a convenient, highway-accessible place for AA to meet on wednesday nights. But the church must always have open doors to spread God’s love. Otherwise, the building is that envisioned by Nathan: pleasing to a king, and therefore pleasing to God.