A Sermon on 2 Kings 22.1-23.3
There are certain traditions that I grew up around that I come to understand only now,
only as I grow older and see them from the same eye level as the family members who began them...
This week, while studying this text in 2 Kings, I understand yet another one.
Perhaps you will relate.
In my grandmother's living room, on her coffee table, in the left hand corner,
there lives a Bible.
It has been a fixture there as long as I can remember.
And it's surely sitting there right this moment, just as surely as you're all sitting here.
It's a large, green, Masonic Bible.
And artist interpretation of the Last Supper is on the cover.
It is revered in that house more than finishing what's on your plate,
more that saying please and thank you,
and- I didn't grow up in the house, but probably,
more that obeying curfew.
I'm sure that every grandchild has touched it at one time or another.
Many of us have even tried to pick it up, only to be told to put it back.
There's crayon marks on the inside cover from a moment when it wasn't watched carefully enough.
There's even a grape kool aid stain on the edge of most of the pages because some ten year old was insistent she didn't need a lid for her drink, and spilled on the Bible.
My grandmother still doesn't know who that ten year old was...
but we can leave the past in the past.
But, actually, we can't.
People use the phrase, "if walls could talk."
Well, the living room has been remodeled,
the walls painted,
but the Bible still sits in its spot.
In fact, the only time is is allowed to be moved
is when one trusted individual sets up the nativity set in its place.
So what is this Bible could talk?
What if this, specific copy of God's word could talk?
There would be a lot of stories that echo the story of the people of Judah.
See, just like the book that was found in the temple,
this printed word of God on my grandmother's coffee table is, in essence, a piece of who my family is.
It's a presence that exists during and between Thanksgivings, and Christmases, and New Years, and Birthday parties, and mothers' days, and fathers' days, and anniversaries, and Easters.
It is consistently there, because it is consistently who we are.
Things do not get set on top of that Bible,
at least not literally.
But sometimes, something sits there so long, it becomes a piece of furniture.
We forget about the importance, about its gravity.
I can't tell you how many times the Bible has been there, but I haven't really seen it.
We stop noticing these things because other things compete for our attention.
When we talk about people being distracted, or other things competing for our attention,
what's the first thing we usually talk about?
You can probably say it with me; technology.
And you know what? We're right. But technology can't take all of the credit.
There's so much more out there that distracts us.
We are a distracted society.
We're distracted by our televisions,
the things we own,
the constant (yet often conflicting) information we're being fed 24 hours a day,
the impression that we're expected to have an informed opinion on everything,
every single one of the things that we shoulda', coulda', or woulda' done (or at least woulda' done differently),
other people's expectations,
what happened yesterday,
what will happen tomorrow...
How can we possibly keep our relationship with God at the center when our minds are busting at the seams?
Preparing for the future isn't a bad thing
and caring about worldly things is just a reality of being human.
But does it consume you?
Does it consume you like commercials seem to consume 90% of the airtime on the radio?
After you've dealt with those other distractions; is there anything left of you?
When was the last time you took inventory?
If I asked you to locate the "book" of your faith, and your identity,
how long would it take you to uncover it, and dust it off?
Do you remember the last time you had it?
And, while knowing where you Bible is, is important,
here I'm also talking about remembering who you are,
and perhaps more importantly;
who's you are.
Do your actions reflect the gospel you believe in?
Are your actions telling of the gospel?
Justin is a young man who I crossed paths with in undergrad.
He was a member of a student group on campus that often picketed the Planned Parenthood Clinic in the area.
We were talking one day outside of the class about his experience with that,
and he explained that he applied for an internship as a security officer at that same clinic for the upcoming summer.
I was surprised to say the least.
And skeptical, to be honest.
The group Justin was a part of was known throughout campus for their pretty extreme social and political views.
I asked him, "why?"
I admit that I expected the worst.
That this was some kind of plot to talk to the women about their choices,
that he was going to try to further his cause from the inside,
but the answer he gave me was both terribly cliche and wonderfully beautiful.
He said, "When I was standing behind the fence this weekend, amongst a crowd of people yelling at these women, I realized, this isn't what I believe in.
Not pro-life or pro-choice, or any of that.
I don't know why, but for the first time in a long time, I asked myself, 'What would Jesus do?'
and the answer wasn't this.
I think my place, where the Gospel would have me stand, is on the other side of the fence,
holding the hands of those women,
shielding them from as much of the pain as I can.
I think that's where Jesus would stand."
You can agree or disagree with Justin's opinions, but when confronted with something he was unsure about,
when he wasn't sue if his truth was being buried,
he took a minute and analyzed what was happening.
And when he saw what he didn't think was right,
he took steps to change his influence, his impact.
The people of Judah had not been following the instruction of God,
the book was only uncovered as the Temple was being renovated.
Meaning that it had been tossed aside and forgotten.
Treated just as poorly as the collapsing Temple around it.
The people of Judah had been worshiping other gods.
They have into the other things that were competing for their attention.
the reality is, there will always be things in our lives that turn our heads in other directions,
that distract us,
that take up our attention.
But when that happens,
We have to be careful and critical about what we do as people of Christ,
Sometimes we have to hit the reset button and realign ourselves.
We have to have ways to get back on track because
as soon as your faith,
your identity is covered,
it can become so easily buried.
We have to be able to find what is lost.
I think that's a reason why the Bible on my grandmother's coffee table stays where it is.
Perhaps she's afraid that if it goes on a bookshelf,
it'll get buried amongst other books,
and she won't know where to find it when she needs it.
That the Bible on the coffee table would no longer be a common thread in my family's experience.
That one day, one of us would refer to the Bible,
and a younger cousin, or nephew, or niece would respond, "What Bible?"
That the theory of "Out of sight, out of mind," will take over,
and years down the road,
someone will uncover it in a box somewhere,
and that in the meantime,
we'll not only have forgotten who we are,
but who's we are.