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

Tough Love

Listen to the Sermon

July 6:

Call:       Matthew 10: 40-42
Text:       GENESIS 22; 1-14
Psalm:  Psalm 13    (746)
Closing:    Romans 6: 20-23
Reading:    W&S #94

                Tough Love

Some scriptures
Are so familiar
And the point they make is so obvious
    That we lose the intended emotional impact
And instead take them for granted.

That is the case with this morning's text
    The story of Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain in Moriah.

And so I was not certain as to how to approach it
in a way that would revive its impact on both you and me.

And then came the first part of this week.

For my experiences between 8:30 AM on Monday and 3:30 PM on Thursday
    Transformed my life.

Or at least transformed and forever altered
my understanding of the word     "vacation."

And in the process added depth to my relationship with the text.

For my first 68 years,      "vacation" meant
    A time to rest and a time to avoid making decisions
    A time to be somewhat selfish and not worry about accomplishing anything.
    A time of new and exciting activities.

But in the four day period from the morning of June 23
through the late afternoon of June 26
    that understanding was demolished, crushed and destroyed

The only evidence that I was on vacation for that quartet of days
was the fact that the last two month's newsletters
        Said that I was

And since "The Trumpeter" can't be wrong,
I now have to believe
That the definition of "vacation" includes:
        Being tethered to a storage room, deciding,
            What should be given to the yard sale
            What should be given to the bazaar
            What should be given to my two older children
            What should just be thrown out
            What I should keep
        And then, how to arrange the storage room
Once I had finally been convinced by a nameless person
that the less that I kept
                The greater my chances were of salvation

I was let out of the storage room only
    To move boxes in and out of it
    And     to eat
- so that I would have the energy to move more boxes

I received two brief furloughs during that period
    One         to take discarded storeroom items to the dump
    The other to attend a county historical society meeting

So slavishly did I work
That I had neither time nor energy to research whether
my  "vacation"  violated the 13th amendment.

However, all kidding aside, I have to admit
That it was a productive - if tiring week
And I actually enjoyed a great deal of it.

To be honest, the most difficult aspect of the week
 was having to decide to get rid of stuff to which I had an emotional attachment.

And that is why I have my little television with me.

Marge gave this to me some 30 years ago along with a battery pack

The thought was that I could take it to Syracuse basketball games
    And check replays
    To show, of course, that I was right and the refs were wrong

I never did that.
    But I have taken it with me on vacation
    I have watched it at home
    I have used the radio portion of it.

But I have not used it since arriving in Potsdam seven years ago
    And it does not appear to be cable ready.

The truth is that at this time, my television has little utilitarian value

Marge has urged me to get rid of it
I have been unable to interpose any reasonable defense

But because every time I see it
I always remember the joy I had when she gave it to me
And what a fine, creative and loving gift it was

And so, I get sad and I hurt every time I think of disposing of it.

And I was not the only one who hurt this week.

The clock hanging in our dining room had served us
    In Oneida,      In Jordanville,         In Massena
And, of course, In Potsdam

It was a perfect clock for a UMC pastoral family.
    Because we could hang it anywhere

It was a battery clock so we didn't have to worry about outlets
Its face was clear glass
so it always appeared to be the color of the wall behind it

But this week when Marge changed the battery
    She apparently did not hang it back up securely

The clock fell,     the glass shattered,    and we had to throw it out.

We both hurt - Marge even more than I.

But this little unusable television and the smashed clock
Do help me to   more fully appreciate   this morning's text.

They do so by making me more deeply experience
    The familiar story of this unusual Father - Son outing
And they help despite the fact, that in many ways
I do not like this story
I do not particularly like God in this story
And I do not think I like Abraham either.

You know the story
This is how it is told in Genesis 22: 1-14:

Well,  do you like this story?
Is it something you want read to your children at bedtime?

But it is an important lesson about trust

In our story,
Abraham trusted God
and Isaac trusted Abraham and Abraham's relationship with God

We all want to proclaim "I trust God."
In fact, I suspect that each of us has.

But would   we  or could we     have said that
    If God asked us to do       what God asked Abraham to do?

The magnitude of God's instruction and Abraham's response
Was brought home to me this week by the TV and clock

Marge and I are both reasonable people
    [OK.    At least you have to acknowledge that Marge is]

I agonized and hurt over disposing of my television
    Even while recognizing its present lack of utilitarian value;

She and I both agonized and hurt over the accidental destruction of our clock.

They are things!        They are possessions!
Abraham was told to take his only son       And sacrifice him!

What is that
    Ten times more serious? One hundred times more serious?
        Than giving up a television set
            That I haven't watched for a decade.
        And a clock that already had over 20 years of service

But it is in the monumental difference between the two
That we get the message
that Abraham absolutely and unequivocally  trusted God

In his willingness to trust God in such a drastic situation.
Abraham set an example for us to follow
    In our situations which are seldom that drastic?

Situations  where what we are asked to do
  Is inconvenient    or is just something that we do not want to do

If Abraham could trust God when asked to make
the greatest sacrifice one can make - giving up ones child
You and I can - and must - be willing to trust God
        In whatever it is that God requires of us

And the magnitude of that sacrifice speaks to us as Christians.

Abraham so loved and trusted God
    That he was prepared to give up his only son as a sacrifice

And God so loved us
    That God did give up God's only son - also as a sacrifice.

How could you and I not trust God after that?