“If You Give a Preacher a Pickle”
Are any of you familiar with the series of children’s books with titles:
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie;
If You Give a Moose a Muffin; and
If You Give a Pig a Pancake?
They take an idea and
follow it through the mind of a child
until it comes full circle.
Well, I had a similar experience this week as I was preparing
for this weeks sermon.
I realized that I had already combined this weeks reading with last week’s.
What to do? What to do?
I was in a “pickle.”
All of a sudden a sermon title
from a magazine I was reading,
caught my eye: “2014: The Year of the Ark.”
From that my mind began to wander and what follows
is my version of the children’s book
only I have named it: “If you give a Preacher a Pickle.”
If you give a preacher a pickle, she will wonder what to do?
When she wonders what to do, she will pray about it.
When she prays about it, she trusts God will send an answer.
When God sends an answer, the preacher hopes it will be easy to work with.
The preacher hopes it will be easy because Sunday is coming quickly.
The answer God sent was “2014: The Year of the Ark”
When the preacher gets an answer like that, she must pray again.
“God, what scripture do you want me to use?”
“Use Psalm 29!”
Preacher prays again: “You have got to be kidding, God.
What does Palm 29 have to do with an ark or a flood?”
“No I am not kidding. Read it carefully. Read it out loud. Read it silently. Then pray on it.”
“God, it’s me again. I have some questions?”
“What kind of Psalm is this?
I know there are different types
but this doesn’t seem to fit into any of those categories.”
“This is called a hymn to the God of the storm. It was originally a Canaanite hymn of praise that was appropriated by my people, the Israelites, as a prayer for rain for the fall feast of Tabernacles.”
“A prayer for rain, huh.
Does the psalm have anything to do
with all this white stuff that keeps pouring out of the sky?”
“There is a connection but not in the way you think.”
OK, I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Your voice is pretty powerful.
It is mentioned seven times and
it is thundering,
shaking the earth,
or breaking the great cedars of Lebanon.
Why is that?”
“That is the way the Israelites understood my strength. I battled the primeval forces of chaos. The noises of the storm were thought to be my voice.”
“What does it mean
that you are enthroned over the flood
and sit as king forever?”
“It means, that I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end. I was there in the beginning and I will be with you forever.”
“That’s very comforting, God.”
“Now see if you can make a connection between Psalm 29 and an ark.”
“The psalm mentions the flood,
so I get that—
You gave Noah directions to build an Ark,
which he did.
The Ark saved Noah, his family, and all the animals.
Now I know the Israelites
thought that you caused the flood
and the Psalmist thought you caused the storm.
Personally, I have a problem with that thinking.
I think you were present
in the midst of the flood and storm
but did not cause them.”
“That’s a good start. Go on.”
“I believe I am beginning to see things more clearly,
especially if I understand the storm and the ark as metaphors.
We have storms in our lives.
Life storms can emanate from winter snows,
floods, earthquakes, tornadoes,
hurricanes, fires, unemployment,
financial crisis, health crisis, death of a loved one,
mental illness, addiction, or stress in general.
These storms hit us broadside and shake our very foundations.
They are not divinely caused
but are storms that arise
as a consequence of living as humans.
Our refuge in those life storms is the Ark.
You, God, are our Ark.
You are with us in the storms of life
and give us strength,
and hope to carry on.
You are deserving of our praise and thanksgiving.
“By George, I think you’re getting it! What else?”
“There is another way to look at arks.
I love the movies you did with Jim Carey and Steve Correl.
You know—Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.”
“Oh yes, I thought humans needed a message.”
“That certainly was innovative.
Anyway, ever since seeing them
I have thought of A.R.K. as Act of Random Kindness.
When we offer acts of random kindness,
we are providing an ark
for that individual or individuals.
We may never know what that act of random kindness meant to them.
But God, I believe it was not a wasted effort.
By doing acts of random kindness for those in the storms of life,
we are praising you, God.
You have loved us first
and thus we are able to send that love out to others.
Help us to accept those acts of kindness
when we are the ones in need.
By accepting those acts we are also praising you.”
“Your almost done.”
“I have one question left.”
“Do you ever speak in a quiet gentle voice?”
“Of course but you have to listen carefully. Check Palm 46.”
“Oh, that is one of my favorites.
It says ‘God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
My most favorite verse is 10
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth’.”
“Now try meditating on that verse in this way:
Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still, and know.
When you rest in my power, I give you the strength and the peace you need to face the storm.”
When we are still,
we can hear your quiet gentle voice
giving us courage and peace
to weather life’s storms
and we trust in you our ARK
Knowing you are with us give us HOPE.
“I think you are done! “
“WOW! It is only Tuesday afternoon and my sermon is done!”
‘You know Transfiguration is the topic for next week, right?”
When you give a preacher a pickle…
Those were my ponderings this week and I offer them to you in the greatest of hope.