Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

We Want It!

June 10th:

June 10, 2012
Call:   2 Corinthians 4:16 - 5:1
Text:   1 Samuel 8: 4-11, 15-20
Read:   Psalm 138       (853)

                                We Want It!

It is my prayer that some of you who were here last week remember something other than
        The fried brain I exhibited after a month or more with no let up
the resultant near record number of mistakes I made during that service
[and I emphasize "near" - not record
because a check by the staff at Guinness
has provided me with the comforting news that
        during the last 112 years
        two pastors - neither of whom were Methodist, of course -
        had actually made more errors than I did
                 despite my using Dale Petry's somewhat inflated count.

But anyway, it is my prayer
that some of you - despite that distraction - recall that
                Beginning with Pentecost
The focus of the second half of the liturgical year is on:
Learning, experiencing, and nurturing our relationship with God
And what that   means to,       and requires of,        us

It is my prayer that despite the distractions of the week
        We are determined to allow the Holy Spirit
To breathe life into our relationship with God

And thereby enable us to fulfill the great commission
        To be witnesses to, and make disciples of and for, Jesus Christ.

Last week we were introduced to an individual by the name of Nicodemus
        A man who wanted to follow Christ
                But who was hamstrung by his own humanness
        A man   in whom we recognized ourselves

Today we look at a scripture in which we again recognize ourselves
        This time not as individuals
        But instead as a group.

The group in which we see ourselves this morning is made up of the Israelites of Samuel's day.
        A group who deserved its generation's
        "Fickle Finger of Faith" award
                Just as we often deserve our generation's award.

Let's place those people
In the historical perspective of the Jewish nation.

The patriarchs, of course, were the beginning of the nation
        Abraham, followed by his son Isaac and Isaac's son Jacob
However, jealousy among Jacob's sons (and he had 12)
led to one of them (Joseph) being sold into slavery in Egypt
God, however, used Joseph's presence in Egypt
and the position to which Joseph had ascended,
to save the nation of Israelites from being wiped out by famine.

Many generations later, however, the Egyptians began to perceive the Israelites as a threat.

They were enslaved and treated badly - even cruelly.
And so, God called Moses
        Who led them out of Egypt
and into 40 years as nomads in the wilderness

Then Joshua, Moses' successor led them into "the promised land "
        Where they existed as twelve separate tribes, but who were
                connected by genetics and history
                connected sometimes by common enemies
                And connected always and most importantly, by their God.

During this time, whenever there was a crisis, God raised up judges
        To lead a coalition of tribes against a common enemy
                Deborah, Gideon, and Samson were some of the judges.

God was Israel's king
The judges were the human instruments though which God worked.

Samuel was a judge.             And he was a priest
He had been taken to the temple
where he was dedicated and given to God by his mother Hannah

He served many years
        But when he grew older and appointed his sons to serve as judges
                They were failures.

The people began to get restless
They began to get upset
And     they began to call for a king
        A human king
        Like neighboring nations had.

Now, before we hear the scripture
we need to grasp the absurdity of the situation

for if we don't, the foolishness of their approach may escape us.

God was their king
        But they wanted a human king - like their neighbors had.

God was their king
        But they wanted to replace God          with a man!

Peer pressure and mindless conformity
do not find their origin in our lifetimes
Now, the scripture      [1 Samuel 8: 4-22a]

This is one of those scriptures that for me
comes to life every time I read it.

I picture Samuel, stunned by the request of the people whom he served
        Going to God
        With widely opened eyes and a visibly dropped jaw.
I hear the puzzlement in his voice as he begins to speak to God.
        "God, do you know what these people want?
And without waiting for a reply, tells God,
        "They want a king.
They want a man appointed to rule over them."

And I see the wry smile on God's face
        "Sam, Sam, relax and listen to them.
they have not rejected you - they have rejected me."

"But they have been rejecting me as their king for umpteen years
        Ever since - of all things - I brought them up out of Egypt.
They have done so by forsaking me and worshipping other gods."

"So Sam, I guess it is time to listen to them.
        But please warn them
                Warn them, Sam
                Warn them of the ways of the king who shall reign over them."

Samuel did just that, saying
        "Let me tell you what life under a king will be like.
                He will take your some of your sons
And put them in his army to fight whenever, wherever, and whomever he tells them to fight

                He will take others of those sons
and put them to work in his fields to raise his crops
                                and in his factories to make what ever he needs
                                        to preserve his power and his wealth.
                He will take your daughters
                        And they will make his food
                        And provide him with luxuries

                He will take
                        The best of your fields, orchards, and vineyards
                        A part of your crops
                        Your slaves and your animals."

And Samuel concluded,
        "And in that day you will cry out because of your king
                The one whom you have chosen
        And when you cry out,   the Lord will not answer you."

And the people?
        Oh, they knew better than Samuel
        They knew better than God
        They knew that they wanted a king
So they could be like everyone else.

"We want a king!" they proclaimed       "Yes, we want a king."

And so God said to Samuel,
        "Listen to their voice.         Give them what they want.
        Set a king over them."

The people of Israel remind me of an arrogant and spoiled child
        Who thinks the world revolves around him/her?

"I want it!"    "Give it to me!"
"I don't care about all those things you said.
        After all, I know more than you         about what is best for me."

Sadly, the people of Israel also remind me      of ourselves
        Who so often make our choices on how we use our resources
                Money, wealth, time, and love
        By saying, "We want it" instead of asking "What does God want?"

        And who so often choose where to place our priorities
                In a manner that says to God,
"We don't care about all those things you said.
        After all,      We know more than you   about what is best for us."

This September I will begin leading a Bible Study on the kings of Israel.
        We will learn about the good and the bad they did.
        And it will give us a chance to see who was right
                God and Samuel?
Or      The people who thought they knew better?

But I think we know the answer already.

The question for us is,
Whether knowing the answer means any more to you and me
                Than it meant to the people of Israel
                Who clamored for a king Despite Samuel's warnings?

But you and I don't have to wait until September
We can start reflecting on the answer today.