Thursday, July 2, 2009

Preaching Materials for July 12, 2009

R U M O R S # 559
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor

July 5th, 2009

"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)

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I post each issue of Rumors on that blog so that you can access it any time. And if an issue of Rumors goes missing, you can go and find it there. And if you need back issues, that’s where to find ‘em.


The Story – a little too much skin
Rumors – the king dances
Bloopers – ninety-two temptations
We Get Letters – texting the commandments
Mirabile Dictu! – cry under water
Bottom of the Barrel – finding Adam and Eve
Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-23
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)

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Rib Tickler – The minister was booming out a long, dark sermon about adultery. “Thou shalt not commit adultery!” he thundered.
In the pew, gray-haired Mabel leaned over and whispered to her equally gray and somewhat bald husband, “Don’t worry, George. You find it hard enough to commit monogamy.”

Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, July 12th, which is Proper 10 [15].
* 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 or Amos 7:7-15
* Psalm 24 or Psalm 85:8-13
* Ephesians 1:3-14
* Mark 6:14-29

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-23 – The Story we have chosen (from the Revised Common Lectionary) is a continuation of the David saga which goes through into August.

Jim says –
There’s an abundance of preaching material available for this Sunday – my homiletic cup overflows, so to speak: the beheading of John, the sweeping vision of Ephesians, the soaring prose of Psalm 24, the metaphoric vision of Amos...
Still, I’ll go with the David story, but I get so frustrated with the censors of the RCL. They leave out all the juicy bits! Don’t they trust church-goers with the whole story? In this passage, they skip over the effects of irreverently touching the Ark, and ignore the consequences for David’s wife Michal (v. 20-23).
Anyway, the main story is restoring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It’s brought back with mighty celebration. David frolics so enthusiastically that he exposes his private parts to public view.
According to legend, Menelek, son of the Queen of Sheba, who later became one of King Solomon’s many wives, took the Ark away with him. The Ethiopian Church maintains to this day that the original Ark is housed in St. Mary’s church in Axum, in northern Ethiopia.
Whether their belief is true or false – since no one is allowed inside that church – the real question is, “If _we_ were bringing back the Ark, where would we bring it back to?”
Should it be in Jerusalem? If so, where? In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where six Christian denominations squabble constantly over territorial rights? In the Moslem Dome of the Rock, site of Solomon’s Temple? Or should it go to the Smithsonian in Washington, or the British Museum in London?
And what do our choices say about what we consider to be our Holy Places?
Ralph says –
The lectionary skips over verses 6-12a, which is too bad but understandable. But then it chops off the end of the story by not telling what David faced when he got home. Which is the best part of the story, in my view.
So we are continuing to the end of the chapter, i.e. verse 23.
Bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem had huge symbolic significance for David and the Hebrews. It was God’s stamp of approval of David’s kingship and his choice of Jerusalem at the capitol. This story could be regarded as the high point of all Hebrew history when Jerusalem became the “Holy City” for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
It’s small wonder David got carried away. He may well have had a bit too much wine. Whatever it was, he danced in ecstasy dressed in a linen ephod. We don’t really know what an ephod looked like, but we do know it was an important ceremonial vestment. It may have been a bit like an apron, and if that was all he was wearing, the folks watching along the parade route saw quite a lot of David.
At least Michal, David’s wife, didn’t think it covered quite enough and she gave him a royal chewing out when he got home.
It’s a great story for our time because it’s about worship, it’s about celebration, it’s about concepts of decency, it’s about life in a marriage.
It’s also about the treatment of women. Michal, sentenced to a lifetime of childlessness, was given the harshest punishment a Hebrew woman could receive.

Psalm 24:1-10 – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
1 Turning and turning, our pale blue globe
burns bright in the blackness of eternity.
The Earth is the Lord's, and all that is in it –
All life embodied in the only home we know.
2 God created life in the oceans,
and nourishes it with nutrients from the mountains.
3 Trace the course of a river to its source;
Stand among the mountains and marvel.
Who would dare defile this paradise?
4 God sees through our deceit and pretence;
We cannot claim innocence with dirty hands.
We can only approach God with clean hands and pure hearts;
5 Then we will see a smile on the face of God,
Then will God's wisdom be evident in the world.
6 So seek the Lord in high and holy places;
7 Let the vast valleys throw open their arms;
Let the summits stand tall in pride,
For this is the home of the Lord!
8 With all the glory of the universe to choose from,
With all of creation quivering in expectation,
The Lord of life picked this planet as home.
9 So throw open your valleys, O earth!
Spread wide your plains to welcome the Lord!
10 For the Lord of all creation lives here.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Publications.
For details, go to

Ephesians 1:3-14 – Paul seems overwhelmed by the magnitude of the gift God has lavished on us. And we, of course, want to know what we need to do to deserve or pay for this gift. And the answer of course is nothing.
But just a minute. The old Westminster Confession asks, “What is the chief end of man [sic]?” And the answer is to enjoy God forever.
Have you ever given a gift and known that your gift will be appreciated and enjoyed for days, months, years? That knowledge is your reward.
Have you ever danced with a baby, or sung to a baby, or played silly games with a baby and been rewarded with a bright, beaming smile?
That experience is the closest I can get to understanding why God showers us with love and grace.
God doesn’t want flattery or promises. God wants a bubbly grin and a kicking of legs in delight as we enjoy simply being together in love.

Mark 6:14-29 – A social pressure that can sometimes be a curse is the need to save face. To not look stupid. Or ignorant. Or weak.
This is about King Herod saving face. He kind of liked John the Baptist, or at least liked to hear him preach. But John kept yelling about Herod’s illegal marriage. And then, at a party, when his daughter did some fancy dancing, he offered her anything she wanted. Her mama told her to ask for John’s head and to save face in front of all the guests Herod had so say yes.
When people with a high public persona mess up, they don’t confess, learn from their mistake and resolve to do better. They bring in the damage control people in order to save face.
Instead of everyone learning from the mistake, they and their public all lose.

There’s a children’s version of the David story, “King David and the Holy Ark,” on page 155, of “The Lectionary Story Bible, Year B.” And there’s a children’s version of Psalm 24, “A Song – God Made All of Us,” on page 157.
Those of you in the United Church of Canada who may be coming to our neck of the woods for the General Council meeting in August, please look for information about a launch party for this three-volume series. You’ll be able to get a set autographed by both Margaret Kyle (the illustrator) and myself.
There’ll also be an open house at Wood Lake Books which would give us a chance to connect, and you can get some great book bargains.

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Rumors – The King Dances
From “Man to Man,” by Ralph Milton. Wood Lake Books, 1993.

Jerusalem was the military and political capital of the nation, but David was also convinced that God was directing his life and the life of his nation. David had a deep and personal relationship with God. So he decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, to turn Jerusalem the political capital and into Jerusalem, the holy city.
The Ark was the most important religious symbol of the northern tribes. Wherever the Ark was, they figured that's where God was too. God was everywhere, but God was particularly present in the Ark.
For David, this felt like the most important moment in his life. He took his whole army, 30,000 soldiers, to parade the Ark down the road to Jerusalem. They put it on a brand new cart, and David with his whole entourage danced and sang in front of it. It was quite a festival.
But Murphy's Law worked in David's day too. Uzzah, one of the priests walking beside the ark, reached out to steady the ark when the oxen jerked the cart. Zap! He was dead as a doornail.
"Time out!" yelled David. "This Ark is too hot to handle." He turned to his friend Obed-edom. "Can you take care of the Ark for me while I figure out what to do next?"
A few months later one of his advisors brought David a report. "Obed-edom is having great success with that Ark. Everything works out for him. No matter what he tries, it works."
"Well," said David. "Let's finish the job."
Out came all the soldiers and singers and dancers to see the Ark the rest of the way into Jerusalem. David staged an elaborate religious ceremony followed by a big celebration. David had never felt closer to God, except perhaps during his very first years in the hills above Bethlehem. David danced his joy in front of the whole procession, wearing just a linen ephod, a kind of apron that covered only the front of his body. Sort of. When he wasn't whirling around, that is.
Then everyone went home, including David who didn't know what hit him when he walked in the door.
"So! How's the big man?" Michal, his wife, was flaming mad. "Did you have fun dancing around stark naked in front of those sweet, innocent girls? Did the great king of Israel enjoy himself, showing his bare buns to all those panting bimbos?"
"Hah!" yelled David. "Who do you think you're talking to? You're just jealous because it's me who's king and not, Saul, your old man. Well, like it or lump it. Those girls liked what they saw, and I'll show them even more if I want. But as for you, this is the last you've seen of me!"
It was a battle Michal couldn't win. David held all the aces. Now she wouldn't even have children, which was the one thing that gave a woman any status in those days. Michal lived out her days on the fringes of the harem while David forgot all about her and went on to plan his next triumph.

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Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Jim did not file a column this week. He had to help out with a family medical emergency.


Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – Steph McClellan of Gander, Newfoundland says she heard an announcement promoting Stella Burry Community Services. “Many United Church Women are now having showers in honour of Stella Burry."

In Bill Keanes comic, “The Family Circus,” the little boy is saying the Lord’s Prayer. “…forgive those who trespass against us. And leave us ninety-two temptations…”

Mark Brantley-Gearhart of Snyder, Texas writes: Our care committee delivers flowers to shut-ins, but recently ran out of vases. So in staff meeting I said to the secretary, "Please put an announcement in the bulletin that we need more bud vases."
"What?!" she cried, and started laughing.
"What did you think I said?" I asked.
"I'm not going to tell you!" she said, putting her hand to her mouth in a pitiful attempt to control her snickering.
Then it hit me. "Was it... 'butt faces'?"
Shaking her head "yes", she laughed so hard she cried.

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers in your church bulletin or newsletter, or anywhere else for that matter, please send them to me.

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Wish I’d Said That! – "I've found grace inside of a sound / I've found grace, it's all that I found / And I can breathe"
Bono (U2) via Chris Hayes

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. source unknown via Mary of Oman

Save the Earth. It's the only planet with chocolate!!!!
source unknown via Vern Ratzlaff
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We Get Letters – Carl Boyke sent a copy of an Andy Capp comic which reminded him of the Ten Commandments in the cell-phone texting code we had on Rumors a couple of weeks ago.
Andy is walking with the vicar. The vicar is explaining that he puts a great deal of work into his sermons to attract a younger congregation. “Ah,” says Andy, “that explains last Sunday’s Moses and the Ten Text Messages.”

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Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “cry under water!”)
Vern Ratzlaff of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has confessed. These are the questions that keep him awake at night.
* Can you cry under water?
* How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?
* Why do you have to "put your two cents in"... but it's only a “penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?
* Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
* What disease did cured ham actually have?
* How is it that we put people on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
* Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up every two hours?
* Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
* Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.
* Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?
* If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?
* Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?
* If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?
* Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?
* Why did you just try singing the two songs above?
* Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
* Do you ever wonder why you gave me your e-mail address in the first place?


Bottom of the Barrel – Sherlock Holmes died and went to heaven.
“We are certainly glad you are here,” said St. Peter. “We have a bit of a mystery we’d like you to solve.”
“I should be delighted,” said Holmes. “I am at your service.”
“We seem to have lost Adam and Eve. We know they are here, but they seem to have assumed a disguise. We can’t identify them.”
It wasn’t long before Sherlock Holmes came to St. Peter with Adam and Eve in tow.
“How did you know?” asked St. Peter. “How could you identify them so easily?”
“Elementary, my dear Peter,” said Holmes. “They were the only ones who had no navels.”

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Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-23
NOTE: You are welcome to adapt Reader’s Theatre to suit your situation. For instance, David Gilchrist writes, “I always set it up with a separate person for each part instead of just the two readers, giving each part a different colour.”

Reader I: Before we read this story for the folks, you have to tell me what an ark is.
Reader II: That’s easy enough. It simply means a box, or a chest or a coffin.
I: But what about Noah’s ark. That was a boat.
II: Yes, it was a very large, water-proof box. The Israelites didn’t have much language about boats and ships. They always lived inland, so they didn’t know much about that sort of thing.
I: In this story, they talk about the ark of God. Where they saying that God lived in that box?
II: Well, yes and no.
I: I hate that. “Yes and no!” Just give me the facts.
II: Well, yes, because some of the people believed that. Others didn’t. Some said it held the tablets on which God carved the Ten Commandments.
I: So where is it now?
II: Nobody knows. The tiny nation of Israel was beaten up by powerful neighbors so often, and any one of them could have made off with it. Anyway, this is a legend so we don’t know how much basis it has in real history.
I: Well, this is a great story, about them bringing the Ark of God to Jerusalem. I guess that was important to King David because it made Jerusalem the official capital of Israel.
II: David got pretty excited about it all. He might have had a few glasses of wine to celebrate.
I; And he dances his fool head off. Enough to make Michal (MEE-kal) his wife, spitting mad. She said he showed off a little more of himself than he should have.
II: And David hammers her for it. Michal is condemned to a life without babies, and in ancient Israel, nothing could be worse for a woman, than being barren.
I: Enough. Let’s read the story. This is from Second Samuel, chapter 6.
I: David gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. All of them set out and went from Baale-judah, (ball-JU-da) to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.
II: They carried the ark of God on a new cart. David and all the people of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
I: When those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, David sacrificed an ox and a fatling.
II: David, who was wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might. He and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
I: As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, his wife Michal, who was the daughter of King Saul, looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord. She despised him in her heart.
II: They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord.
I: When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
II: When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts,
I: David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David.
II: "Well, now, the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself before the eyes of his servants' maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!"
I: "It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord. So yes, I have danced before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor."
II: And Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no child to the day of her death.

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