Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sermon: Pentecost 5, 2013: The Land of The Lost

What do Blue Jay's Short Stop Munenori Kawasaki and Jesus have in common? In this sermon we learn what it means to travel to the land of the lost. The texts included 1 Kings 19.1-15a (Elijah fleeing from Queen Jezebel), Galatians 3.23-29 (in Christ there is no male and female), and Luke 8.26-39 (Jesus healing the Gerasene demoniac). Besides Munenori Kawasaki, I also discussed this article in the New Yorker about Ittetsu Nemoto by Larissa MacFarquhar. The connections between Elijah's wilderness despair, that of the man possessed by "Legion" demons in Luke's Gospel, and the epidemic of suicide in Japan is worth exploring at some depth.

It's worth noting for you preachers out there that my strangely humorous turn to Kawasaki might have been slightly jarring, but I thought it was important to lighten the mood a bit and introduce the theme of joy, which in an inherent feature of Agape Love. Hard to find that joy in any of the scripture lessons appointed for the day, but it does often appear in other healing stories. I think that it's okay to take the congregation into some dark places sometimes, but you have to take them back home again--you can't leave them there. And all this talk of suicide could be a bit harsh. Sermons should generally be emotionally dynamic, and so going from the bitterness of those desert-depression images to the glory of Kawasaki's home run seemed like a good way to accomplish that, homiletically. It's not a perfect sermon, but it's pretty good for me.

Also influencing this sermon was the hymn "Just as the Deer Longs for the Water Brooks" set to Finlandia (which we sang as the Psalm). That's one of my favourite tunes of all time, and the melancholy mode fit the sermon topic perfectly. On a similar vein, Amy Grant's "Everywhere" was playing as I worked on this sermon last night. I find that listening to music while I'm doing sermon prep is really helpful to get into the desired emotional state, which, in turn, helps me to get the congregation to that same feeling place.