Sermon ~ Pastor Annette
“All the Way Home”
You've seen these tiny houses?
I don’t think I’d enjoy living in a tiny house.
I'm too much in love with being surrounded by books and magazines
and half-sewn quilts and yarn and dogs and craft paper.
In November especially, I want to be home all the time -
wearing pajamas and drinking tea.
Friday as I wrote my sermon wrapped up in a blanket - Listening to the rain,
the dog is stretched out on the couch snoring like a train -
Some people love hotels . . .
But I love my house more.
But house is not the same as home.
Plenty of people with houses are homeless in this world.
Folks who are uneasy inside their own skin . . . . . .
who - for whatever reason . . . . .
have to justify their own existence or the space they occupy upon the planet.
Sometimes whole groups of people are homeless:
marginalized people, certain immigrants, the alarmingly poor . . .
And people nobody seems to want,
people who have burned all their bridges
People with literally no one else to turn to.
And then ~ people the rest of us would never even suspect
are this homeless inside their own skin kind of homeless
because from the outside they appear to have it all together;
When, in fact, it's all an act put on for fear of being rejected
should the public ever know the real person underneath.
King Solomon finally dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem
is what got me thinking about the difference
between having a house and being at home
And the different ways people are homeless
If you’ve read the Old Testament this fall -
like Lisa Williams has! ~
you know it’s been a long haul.
Israel has been lugging the Ark of Covenant around for 400 years,
and losing it for decades at a time . . .
and I Kings, chapter 8 finds them believing
they are finally
All . . the . . . . way . . . . . home.
He was the 2nd son of King David and Bathsheeba.
Almost all his older brothers are dead so the throne is left to him -
though not without some scandal, of course.
His mother insures his coronation and the story of King Solomon -
the wisest king of Israel ~ begins.
Solomon's no less a treat to preach than David
but for very different reasons.
You can read that for yourselves.
His story begins as most new administrations do;
with reorganization of the government domestically and internationally.
Apparently, King Hiram of Tyre, to the north in Lebanon, had previously approached Israel about a trade deal but been refused by King David.
couldn't feed his country on the food he could grow at home and looking to import wheat and olive oil.
With a political deftness we can only dream of these days . . .
King Solomon ~ in the same sentence ~ defends his father's policy and disagrees with it too.
Kings Solomon and Hiram make the deal ~ part of which David read to you from chapter 5.
It is part trade deal, part peace treaty ~
Because remember - Solomon is wise.
Lebanon is far less likely to attack Israel when
Israel is feeding them AND buying their raw materials.
This is what happens when adult, sane people negotiate treaties.
13 years it takes to build his Temple.
In those years, Solomon does what?
Either he creates thousands of jobs - or establishes a policy of slave labor - depending on the bible scholars you side with . .
He grows the economy.
He increases national security.
He solidifies his own reputation as a great and wise king . . . .
Most importantly - or so they believed at the time -
Israel was finally home once and for all.
The ark of the covenant was at rest in the inner chamber -
the holy of holies -
never to be moved again.
The long narrative begun in Genesis 12 with Abram & Sarai is complete.
Never having to have to justify their own existence
Never again required to defend their right to occupy the ground they stood on.
Turned out not to be the case . . .
but this day they believed it.
500 years later (give or take a hundred!) they lost this Temple AND the land . . . .again.
They were marched into exile . . .
And they sat and they thought about it all for 70 years . . . . .
And they wrote down their story from beginning to present
Premised on their changed minds -
Solomon built Israel an amazing house.
God was their home.
We need more words for church.
It’s why I use life together.
Because I don’t want to use the same word for this building
that we use for our life in God;
New Testament Greek uses the the word is koinonia . . .
Which is usually translated fellowship . . . .
The name of another room in our building! Grrr!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined life together . . . .
A way to describe the network of relationship
in which God loves all of us
and we all love each other the best we can.
Our love for each other all adds to to equal our love for God;
I call this Jesus math - since Jesus invented it.
Not how I would do it ~ because it’s time consuming and messy.
But Jesus did not consult anybody on his formula -
just handed to us and said,
Here’s how love works. Do it please.
This Life together - as best I can tell - is a lifelong homework assignment in Jesus Math.
We try. We fail . . . not every time.
Sometimes . . . . . it falls together so perfectly we get a glimpse of heaven itself.
When it does - this life mimics the life to come.
The life beyond the grave
Where all the fears and hurts that make us hurt each other
Are forgiven and forgotten.
And we can truly get on with love -
as it was meant to be . . . .
As God first loved us.
Solomon's temple lay in ruins when the handful of exiles
returned to the geography called Israel.
This was the 4th century b.c.
King Cyrus of Persia fronted them the money to rebuild it ~
This second temple was a far lesser version of the original.
It stood 400 more years.
Jesus worshipped there.
Then the Roman's knocked it down in 70 a.d.
and poured pigs' blood all over the holy of holies.
The ruins remain.
For the next 2,000 years Muslims and Christians traded Jerusalem back and forth with Muslims controlling it for all but 200 years or so.
At the end of WW1 Great Britain took charge & used Jerusalem
for their colonial headquarters in Palestine for twenty-six years.
By then WWII was over. Great Britain was leaving. Jews living there declared independence. War immediately broke out. The UN carved out portion of Palestine,
called it Israel and other nations began recognizing its existence.
I’m aware of all I am not saying & You know the rest from there.
There is no more contested patch of dirt on this planet.
It’s the size of New Jersey.
We've no reason to think this is the last arrangement
that will ever be on it.
All of which is to say - humans are barely capable of learning anything from our ancestors.
Something in us is forever resisting God . . .
Instead we cling to the sod of this world
and cursing anyone who tries to break our grip.
We’d nearly rather die than trust . . . . Or love.
Or do the math that Jesus taught us for our life together.
We are all we have in this world ~
For giving and receiving the love of God this side of heaven.
We have this home in God called church . . . .
Or Life together,
You, me us . . . and whoever comes through the door
Diana told a great story in bible chat this week -
About her Uncle who isn't very . . . . . well, he struggles socially.
And his wife, her aunt, who loves him very much.
Her love for him isn't feeling - but behavior.
With her words and deeds - she makes the world an easier place for him to be.
She pads it socially, if you will,
so he doesn't fall
into certain situations where he would be embarrassed -
or even worse, get hurt.
Aunt Caroline may have caught church by the tail, I thought later.
Church is where we all figure out what makes this world hard and scary for each other -
Then we go about ever so quietly and gently
trying to pad it against their particular suffering.
So none of us are overly embarrassed, or even worse,getting unnecessarily hurt.
It isn't glamorous.
It’s Life together
Would you pray with me?