Our July 5 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. Our social spacing seating arrangement assures minimal risk.
The July 12 worship service will be held in our church sanctuary with members and friends in attendance. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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July 5 Sermon
Zechariah 9:9-12 | Psalm 145:8-15
Romans 7:15-25a | Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” Now that is an interesting saying for Jesus to use, especially in the context. And everyone agrees that it is aimed at the Pharisees. Evidently, there were a couple of games that children played in the streets and marketplaces. They were called, or at least we think, “Weddings” and “Funerals.” Since weddings and funerals (and possibly some other religious events) were probably some of the biggest events that commonly occurred in a village at this time, it is natural that kids would come up with some sort of play around them. I know a number of kids around here who have played “Baptism,” especially in the warmer weather when they have access to a pool or garden hose. And I have heard of little girls playing “Wedding.” I have never heard of anyone playing “Funerals.” Although, who knows?
The problem with any group of children at play is obvious to any parent or grandparent: Not all of the kids want to play the same game. When I was a kid, in summer time, it was usually baseball or football, never basketball, sometimes “Annie Over.” Does anyone play Annie Over anymore? When it got dark, we would switch to “Kick the can,” (although we didn’t really kick the can, we threw it) or “Capture the Flag” (for those two, we used the whole neighborhood. But, you always had at least one, usually more, kid who didn’t want to play. What happened? We played anyway.
As I said, Jesus uses this illustration, and points it at the Pharisees, and those like them. It is a very pointed illustration. Jesus is saying, we tried, and you wouldn’t play. You wanted to do things by your agenda, not God’s. What do you say, when God wants to play, and you don’t. Think of the Garden of Eden story, God wants to play, and Adam and Eve are hiding because they are naked. Of course, that is part of the fall into sin story. But, it fits. Jesus is talking about a falling into sin phenomenon. The Pharisees are so wrapped up in their understanding of religion, that they have missed God’s message. They are all wrapped up in the Law; that the Law is God’s only message to the people. And so, they have missed the Gospel, even when it is there physically in their midst as Jesus stands before them. They have even missed God. The One Whom they are trying to please. How is that for irony.
Jesus uses two examples. John the Baptist, who comes like a prophet, with a message of the coming of the kingdom of heaven, a hellfire and brimstone delivery, ascetic practices of diet (neither eating nor drinking) and living in the wilderness. He is the funeral lament part of the game I think. The response of the Pharisees is that the man must be possessed! He must have a demon! The second example is Jesus himself. I would say that He is the wedding part of the illustration, (indeed, He is the bridegroom. He often used weddings as illustrations about God and the Kingdom). He came eating and drinking, that is what you do at a wedding. And the Pharisees call him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! You just can’t win with this kind of people.
The problem with getting all caught up with religious forms, like the Pharisees did, is that every now and then, God does something different. Don’t believe me, read the Bible. He changes how He moves towards people numerous times in there. Sometimes it is depressing, like the Book of Amos. Sometimes, it is very funny, like the Book of Jonah, or Esther. Sometimes it is both, such as the various Psalms. The key is to be open to how God is revealing Himself to us in our lives now. You have to be aware, and open to all kinds of revelations. Or, as Proverbs 10 puts it, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.” Never be too old to learn, or stuck in your ways. God is very good at doing something new.
I was recently watching a rerun of the “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” movie, which, by the way, takes a lot of liberty with the Robin Hood legend. But, my favorite character in that movie isn’t Robin, nor Little John. No, it is Friar Tuck (in reality, we think that Friar Tuck was the brains of the operation), and not because he is a man of the cloth. In the movie, he is big, bumbling, under-educated, and believes that the only purpose for grain is to make beer, which is understandable. But, he is good hearted deep down. If you have seen the movie, you might remember that there are several times in the film when things do not go his way. And when he discovers that he has been wrong, he doesn’t dwell on it, nor on his pre-conceived ideas, of which he has many. Rather, he says things like, “Thank you, Lord for teaching me humility,” or “I am but a simple man.” He knows when to dance. He knows when to grieve. We too need to be open to these lessons when they are revealed to us in our lives. Listen for “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will fine rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Those are indeed words of Good News. So, cry when it is time to cry. And dance when you hear the music. It may well be God calling to you in a new and unexpected way. But, it is He who is calling, so play! But, wear a mask, and keep your social distance.