The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

God's promise is no fairy tale

June 8, 2008
Fourth Sunday in Pentecost

Jesus vs. Beauty and the Beast
Matthew 9:18-26 and Romans 4:13-25

“God... gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17)

My sermon outline:

• Stories often share themes... Since Disney was on my mind, I saw a Disney story as I read these passages. Beauty & the Beast. Disney’s version of the classic story begins with a Prince who is transformed into a hideous beast for his lack of kindness to a stranger. Only love can break the spell.

In the course of the story he meets Belle, a beautiful young woman who is initially repulsed by the Beast’s appearance, but who comes to see that there is kindness in him. In the movie we see the two of them learning to love one another, and we hear the song “There may be something there that wasn’t there before.” There may be something there that wasn’t there before.

Fast forward to the climax of the movie and there’s this battle between the Beast and a local hunter, Gaston, and the Beast is mortally wounded. He lies dying in Belle’s arms, and as he dies, Belle confesses her love for him. Magic ensues, the dead Beast is transformed into a living Prince, and they marry and live happily ever after.

• Now the reason I saw this Disney story in my readings of Matthew 9 and Romans 4 is the parallel stories of new life, of restoration, of reanimation, and of creation. B&tB includes the story of the creation: the birth of the love between Beast and Belle – something there that wasn’t there before – and it also includes the come-back-to-life transformation at the end. Creation and reanimation. And in Romans 4:17 we see a little picture of God, who gives life to the dead (as in the end-of-the-movie) and calls into existence the things that do not exist (B&tB fall in love).

• But Romans 4:17 is about more than God giving life to the dead (as in the story of Jairus’ daughter) and calling into existence things that do not exist. Romans 4:17 speaks of God’s promise which extended back before the Law of Moses all the way to Abraham and which God has even made available to people today. That promise had to do with life, the essence of life, abundant life here and beyond, in spite of contrary signs of lifelessness – Paul reminds us of Abraham and Sarah’s advanced age, and in spite of their age God was able to fulfill his promise to them...

Romans 4:17 is about God restoring life and faith to those who were a part of the original covenant, the Jews – taking a system of law that did not lead to life and transforming it in Christ into a gracious invitation to life, giving life to the dead – AND it’s about extending that invitation to people outside the original covenant – calling into existence things that do not exist. God takes the old system and breathes life into it and then goes and offers life to even more!

• Indeed, our God is a God who is stronger than death and who wants to conquer the powers of death in our lives, whether those powers be addictions, depressions, cancers or anything that functions to separate us from God.
B&tB put some effort and faith into each other, and with the magic of a fairy-tale promise, were transformed. The promise of our God is no fairy-tale promise.

• We must be willing to reach out to touch God, believing not only in his power to transform life but in his desire to. His promise is for us and it is forever, and with his touch we are made whole.

• Hymn 367 He Touched Me

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 47 in worship. There's a heat wave.