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

Hot Coal Spirit

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June 7:

Call:       2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1
Reading:    W&S #83
Text:       1 Samuel 8: 4-20
Closing:    1 Samuel 11: 14-15


I found today's text to be  unnerving and disturbing.

I share it with you     without joy and without pleasure
I share it with you     with disappointment and even shame.

Now when you first hear it
    You will think that I am being overly dramatic
    You will think that I have overreacted.
    You won't immediately experience
        Either disappointment or shame
    You won't find it unnerving
You won't find it disturbing.

To the contrary,
Your first reaction - as was mine -
Will probably be
To wag your pointer fingers at the people who spoke to Samuel, and say,
    "No!  No!  No!      You should know better!"

But then    as we try to bring the scripture alive by looking for ourselves in it
    We realize that
        We are wagging and we are pointing those fingers
at ourselves
And That it is  our very own selves whom we are chastising
with our    "No!  No!  No!
    You should know better!"

For     we  cannot help but find ourselves in
those people    who asked Samuel    for a human king.

With that introduction, I share the text:       [1 Samuel 8: 4-20]

The people of Israel wanted a king.
    A real human king.

(and don't you just love this?) Because everybody else had one!

    Just like the boy who tries to convince his parents he should have something
        "Because my friend Johnny has one"
    or the girl who tries to convince her family that she should be allowed to do something
        "Because Mary's parents let her."

Just like that boy and that girl the Israelites thought they knew
    What they wanted
They thought they knew  what would be best for them.

They had confidence that they would be better off with a king
    For since everyone else had one,
    It had to be the superior approach.

But superior to what?
    Superior to their present leader?

Their present leader was God!
    God who had set them apart as a special people
A special people
        To do God's work
        To reflect God's goodness and glory

What they were saying in their request for a king
    Was that they preferred to be like everyone else
    Than to be God's chosen servants.

They were choosing humankind, human values, and human ways
    Over God, God's values and God's ways.

God told Samuel to warn them - and Samuel did
    He told them that the king would impress their children into his armies;
    He told them that the king would tax them and take their property;
    He told them that the king would make servants of them.

But the people had made their choice.
After all they knew better.

They chose having a human king.

They made a choice reflecting
greater faith in the human  than in the Godly

They chose the flesh over God's kingdom.

And each day of our lives
    You and I do just that.

We choose human activities over worshipping God
We choose human activities over our personal devotions & prayer
We choose human behavior over doing what God expects us to do

We use the gifts God gave us
    For self indulgent purchases
    For ourselves rather than for those who need our gifts.

And there are few in the pews
- and certainly no one behind the pulpit -
who cannot see herself or himself
in the people who demanded an earthly king.

Just reflect on the last month
    How many nice but unnecessary things did we buy using money that might have fed, clothed, or sheltered others?
    How many times did any of us use our time or energy to please our friends or indulge ourselves
        When we could have done something for one who was hurting or needy?

Isn't doing this    rejecting God?  Isn't it?
Don't we look a lot like the people in our text?

Interestingly, there is another character in this scripture
    To whom we      - as professing and active Christians -
    And particularly    - to me as a pastor -
must relate.

That character is Samuel.

He had two responsibilities
    To speak to God for the people
    To speak to the people for God

When Samuel had to tell God that the people preferred a human king
He must have felt like a failure.
He must have felt like he had done a poor job of sharing God's words and God's expectations with the people.

And yet what God told him was,
    "... they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me ..."

I doubt     that this made Samuel feel much better.

I believe that he must still have thought
    "I could have and I should have done this or done that."

And he was probably right.
    The people may have rejected God
    But if he had done his job better   they might not have.

Well, you and I have a job to do
    We are expected to be witnesses to and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

I have no doubt that you can do better - much better.
I have no doubt that I can do better - much better

I have no doubt that you and I must do better - much better.

We can do that by giving priority
to what God wants us to do
and what God wants us to be

Priority over what the humans around us
want us to do   and     what they want us to be.

That will require sacrifice on our parts..
It might help if we both compare those expected sacrifices
    With and to the sacrifice celebrated
       in the our communion service - the last we will have together.