I am not aware of any "rules" over here in blog-land which would prohibit a mind experiment, are you? Most of my writing is in the form of essays, most of which are speculative at best, wouldn't you agree?
Well, anyhow, I was living in a (rather smallish) "parallel universe" tonight for about an hour; and in that private world, "I was giving a sermon". It just so happened this evening that our fellow presbyhoovians across town hosted a "joint service". The Pastor who was speaking this evening had some interesting things to say about Psalm 133 (I suppose), but I kept wanting to "corrrect" him! It was very annoying having all of this brain racket going on, while I was ostensibly listening.
It was like those irritating people who "correct" you while (during!) you are speaking, except that I was the one who was just so irritating, to myself! The premise then of the experiment, is; "If I am so hot to speak-up (and let's face it, nobody wants to hear that!) why not write down my version of the parallel-sermon which was not preached?".
So, we enter the tiny sanctuary, in which "Brother Mike" is sounding off on Psalm 133. What would that particular sermon consist of? It seems a moderately interesting idea to try out. If you don't care for sermons as a rule, well then; this would be a fine spot to hit the "eject" button; and close down the file. With this intro, we commence my first (written) sermon!
Greasy Beard Stuff
Our text for tonight contains passages one fellow I know claims to be his favorite Psalm. It goes: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing - life forever." The guy in question has made a fuss over this particular Psalm (shall we say?) "More than once" in my hearing.
To be honest with you, I never did "get" what it was he was alluding to. I mean, is this text saying "Generally speaking, it is better to be unified and get along rather than to be at each other's throats?. . . Or something?" And supposing that were true, who cares? Frankly, unity per se seems like an okay idea, but there are some serious hiccups involved.
In fact, these hiccups show up in a variety of areas which we, of the faith once delivered, constantly flounder. Be at peace with each other, be one in spirit and intent. Well, that sounds fine, but we find (in practice) that other people are pretty ornery, and that it is difficult at best, and usually plainly impossible for us to do so. We are excluded by inability, but if the truth were known, most of the time, I simply have no desire to be "unified" thanks just the same for asking?
That is, we as fallen persons are doubly disqualifed from "keeping the rules" set forth in scripture. We are both unwilling (usually) and in any case; simply too weak, mixed-up, and distracted by the jillion and one things of everyday life to do so. Unwilling, plus unable, that is us! Did I mention the dark side yet?
Simply said, the more I am (personally) "commanded to unify with" others, the less I would like to have to do with anyone at all! That is, there is a mulish stubborn-ness, an "I'm right-er than you" kind of drill here, which we all to one extent or another, participate in. And yes, this could be thought of (I think) as a sub-set of "unwilling", but what we are driving at here; is that we believe ourselves to be correct, and that it is others who are in error. We do not unify, for the excellent reason that we are too right to do so! At least, that is the way I am, if left to my own devices.
The text says "It is pleasant", I tend to disagree! I don't even like people, why would I want to unify with them? And it is not only here which we spot this ugly streak in ourselves! In plenty of places, scripture duly informs us that we are to be on the "pro-humility" bandwagon. Did you notice? The very same type of disqualifiers are at work here also. It is hard!. . . to be humble, we lack the vigor and health to do so. But way, way beyond that, we (not so secretly) think of ourselves as more excellent in some way or another, . . . "especially compared to him!". We are commanded to it, and find the double-disqualifiers at work again!
Worse yet, as we double-down so to force ourselves to obey, the mule streak kicks into high gear, and we promptly identify an area where we will never (!) "Knuckle under" to those arrogant so and soes. First the two, then the three, they "conspire against" our best heart, and we end in frustration, anger and a kind of passive low level distrust of "those people". Well, that's the way my wretched "heart" functions at least.
The very thing, if done (unity and now humility), which was to have been a source of joy and gladness for us; turns out to be a major bummer, just another area of heartburn in life, which I am no good at? I am convinced friend, that this is who we are! And we reject that conclusion also, both are true!
One more theme, and we will move along. Be at one with each other, be humble toward others, and be generous, give to the needy! And I won't wear you out with a rehash of where we find ourselves, except to note yet again, unwilling, unable, and finally "too righteous" to comply. It is a pattern and a routine we are all too familiar with!
The cure is in the psalm, we both see it, and also never notice it. Predictably, it is a both/and kind of affair. It's kinda weird that "greasy kid stuff" in the hair proves to be much of an aid to us, but actually; it is!
The Bible is very, very clear on the central idea here, Aaron (the ancient high priest of Israel) is doing something! The high priest goes in once a year in that era to "make atonement" for the people by blood sacrifice! The oil upon the head and beard is a sign to us. Very, very clearly the message of the word is; "You sin, you die. . . Period!" The only possible exclusion was this idea that The Almighty informs us of, an acceptable substitute, a blood sacrifice, but only in the context of His authorized agent (high priest) rightly doing the sacrificial work. Aaron's oil, was logo and endorsement to the people that The Almighty was pleased with (having designed the system after all) the sacrificial offering-work of Aaron.
That is, hope lived on in the hearts of the many for the wonderful reason that God Himself had authorized, built and executed a system whereby the offences could be paid-for. Forgiveness was real, because the claims of Justice had been satisfied, and lawfully dealt with!
Therefore, that community of folk which "bought into" this scheme, found as a deriviative and by-product of this confidence in Aaron's work that (incidentally) they were of one mind.
Lesson one; unity is a by-product of a legitimate trust. The substance of said trusting was that peace with God is effected by the system of an "anointed" priest ending the war between man and God through the means God had established. Unity is never built by "trying harder to be unified"! And of course, Aaron is a "picture of, or echo of" the true Priest, who Himself is also True Sacrifice! John Baptist shouts; "Lookee there! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!".
And not to wear out my welcome today, but we might also likewise apply the same sort of medicine to those two other areas we mentioned earlier. We the un-humble are (in our own minds at least) "high". But the Anointed-one is triply so! He is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is the true "Somebody" in earth, the one sane Man, and the high King of Heaven (and now!) Earth. We, in His presence are freed to be "low" since even the highest ranking angels ever, are mere peons compared to Him! That is, we are brought back to sanity, and to a remembrance of our actual identity, this; not by "finding ourselves" but by being found-of Him!
It is a relief (don't you see?) to drop all of that high and mighty pretending, and just be regular people. Out of sheer mercy and kindness He elevates us (the lowly nobodies) up where He is! He seats us, not only as children of the King, but as kings (and queens might I add?) in our own right! And humility is built just here, upon this rock solid reality. It never really was a matter of play-acting at "trying to be humble", but rather the sober and clear realization that He went far, far out of His way to elevate the worst among us (me, I mean!), and so, we are all freed to honor the you above the me, for the simple reason, that you really are more honorable! Nobody that I have met is as despicable as I. It's reality, and the King of the real we discuss here.
So too then, with the final anointing of Prophet. The apostle asks; "What do you have, that you did not receive?". The word of truth, the word of life, the word of sanity and of wholesome gladness, did you invent any of it? Heck no, and so we pass on a treasure belonging to Another, which was given to us; for the express purpose of aiding others. That is "why" He gives us stuff!
On every account then, the fix, the repair we so desperately require, is found in the grease on Aaron, the oil upon son of Jesse, the goop on Elijah's noggin. They were the precursors, of the really greasy Guy, The King of Jews, Jesus Christ (christened!) The Righteous! It ain't about you, nor your lousy excuse of a job, of "trying to obey". It is about the unshakable conviction that Eternal Covenant was struck between Father and Son, and out that utterly fierce and eternal love, room has been made. A welcoming in, a gathering round that Holy Fire, and the joy of that gathering of the living is unkillable!
Marvelously, out of that unbreakable nature of Their love, we find a place made (graciously) for "younger brothers". We trust in His plan, His scheme to save us. . . From Him, Unto Him, by His strength, in His time, by His means, for His glory. It . . . Ain't. . . About . . . You!
Deal with it.
And we shall mercifully conclude today's sermon with a final look back at Psalm 133. So, what's up with Mount Hermon and the morning dew? And I (for one?) say; "Clearly, He's a romantic!".
After all, what could speak of love better than a rendezvous? You, my friend who trust the Sane One, shall, one day; most certainly die, unless of course you are here to greet Him upon His return. But, supposing that were so, the transformation in you on that day, the renewal and the strengthening would be at least as supernatural as what He has in store for the rest of us!
We shall, at His summons "stand up again" (re-erect), this time clothed in immortality and power, shining with the light of an unkillable gladness. It's future-history baby.
There is a meeting place, a place most green and fresh and bright. Cool waters, lush colors, song, food and welcome! It is the high place, the mountain of God where we shall see Him face to face! It's the real deal, the straight skinny, the inside dope on what shall be. Truth told, Mount Hermon is a bit like that place, much in the same way that Aaron is bit like the True Oily One.
What makes heaven so blasted "heavenly" after all, ain't the real estate, it is the Land-Lord, present and accounted-for! He Himself is the reward and the treasure. And in that day, even we will be sane enough to want He-Himself, rather than the stuff He made.
All cruelty, murder, lies and corruption, all sin and wickedness come to a screeching, permanent, and violent halt one day soon! He wins, King Kong sized slam dunk! The enemys' insane idea of "rivaling" Him, never did make a lick of sense. But in that day, even we will know that much, and that, right well!
But He, the Anointed Himself makes sense of all else.
Ain't He grand? What a Genius! What a Champ! Around Him we gather, bend the knee, respect and greet our brothers, even now, how much moreso then?
He blazed the trail and made for us, the way home!