Rev. Diane Ziegler, The Bellbrook Presbyterian Church
I know many of us are
tired this morning after the Bean Supper.
I want to thank everyone who helped, and lift up a few people in
Tammy, who is a Bean
Supper super hero. She was here all day
with six roasters going. The soup was
Candy, who made the
decorations so beautiful and welcoming.
Penny and Janet who
handled the Treasure Room, that is what I am calling it today, and the bake
sale. And a Treasure Room it was!
And so many others –
makers of fudge and bread for the bake sale, those who cleaned tables and wiped
trays, those who carried boxes and bags, the cashiers, dishwashers, and do-ers of many other things. Thank you.
I heard a lot of
gratitude last night – for this place, for the Saints who have gone before us,
for the soup. Many people appreciate not
just the delicious food, but the community and companionship, the hospitality,
the history. Thank you.
I’ve been working on a
sermon for Presbytery for a meeting to be held in the middle of November, and
in preparation for that meeting I’ve been thinking a lot about how we prepare
for and lay the foundation for the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Christ in our time and in our life, and that which will
be after us. And then I was thinking
about the Bean Supper, and the Saints who laid the foundation for the supper,
who trained the current team of folks who make the supper happen, and of the
next generation of those to come. And I
wonder what Saints think. I wonder what
Ruby and Genevieve and the others who were so instrumental in the Bean Supper
in years past, those who laid the foundation - - I wonder what they think? Now from the heavens, in the glory of the
Almighty, looking down at those of us here now, what do they think about this
community, about the dinner, about the response of those who said the soup was
* * * * *
My grandfather was a
farmer. And every year he planted a huge
garden in addition to the crops that he farmed.
And he always planted tomatoes.
He’d start the plants from seeds under grow lights, and when the weather
was right he would transfer them to the outside. I always chuckled a bit at his tomato patch
in the spring. He would cut these huge
stakes - - like small trees, or large branches, and whittle the ends and drive
them into the ground. So there would be
this small little tomato plant and this huge stake. It looked silly. But I knew what he was doing - - he was
planning for growth, for success, for a tomato plant that would be much larger
come late summer. The stake would be
needed to support the plant that was to come.
There are seven of us
grand kids. All of us ate the tomatoes
growing up, and loved them. Today I am
the only one of the seven who plants tomatoes every summer, keeping the
tradition going on. Usually I do fairly
well, but a couple of summers ago, I did not do very well. I had a good patch full of tomato plants that
just weren’t healthy at all. And another
patch - - one that was doing well - - well, it looked like raccoons were just
belly flopping into it and then eating the bottoms of the ripe tomatoes right
off. I could imagine them out there at
night jumping in and chowing down.
My mother and I were
out in the mess of tomato plants one day and I told her I didn’t think my
grandfather (her dad) would be very pleased with my work - - had I learned
nothing from him?
* * * *
It is hard when we change
a tradition, or feel like we might not be meeting one. Take pews for example. There was a woman in a congregation that I
served who had a cane, and she had a pew that was “hers”. And when someone sat in “her” pew, she did
not hesitate to use the cane. Sometimes
without warning. She was a bit hard on
visitors as you can imagine.
Well, lots of tradition
is changing in 2 Samuel chapter 7, some of that change received better than
other, some concern, some excitement for the future and what the future would
David is a change. He is not the typical kind of king - - not
like Saul who was tall in stature. He
was a kid. Pulled from the field where
he was watching sheep. He didn’t look
like a king. And he changes the way
Kings did what they did too. He has
significant political power which is intensified and magnified by his being
chosen by God. He has a lot of power.
From his cedar house,
his wealthy house, he is relaxing in his comfort and success. And he decides he should build God a house
too. God should certainly have a cedar
house and particularly one close to where David was!
But God is not
interested in cedar or wealth. And God
sure doesn’t want to be confined by a human, even by David. God does not want or need a house, God does
not want or need to be in any human’s care.
And he tells David just that through Nathan.
But that doesn’t mean
that God rejects David, or isn’t beside him.
In fact, God promises to build David a house. To build David a house that is a great and
mighty Kingdom - - a Kingdom that never ends.
David’s descendants will always be on the throne. It doesn’t mean that life will not be
hard. There will be hardships and
lessons to be learned. But God’s love
will never change or depart.
God’s steadfast love
never leaves. It is the kind of love
that can get mad and upset, but still is there and still is strong. In fact it gets stronger. It is the kind of love that sings “oh love
that will not let me go” – that dwells and is and never changes.
God will not be “kept”
by David. But God will love David with
steadfast love always, and God’s love will be such that David’s house will be
forever. David’s house will lead to the
King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
I wonder if David knew
of the significance of this promise, or his role, of the Kingdom? Did he live in such a way to live into this
huge task and responsibility? Did he
rest in that steadfast love of God at the end of each tiring day? From the heavens all of these years later,
what does David think of us, carriers of the Kingdom, as he looks upon us?
When I told my mom that
I thought my grandfather might be disappointed, she paused and said,
“Maybe. But maybe he is glad you are
still planting tomatoes.” - - - Still carrying out the tomato kingdom, still
living in his ongoing love.
The bean supper last
night is not just like it was; and it
won’t be. Things change. People change. But that may just be okay. I am going to guess that what matters most to
Ruby and Genevieve and the other saints who made and served soup before us, is
the blessing and community that eaters of soup feel in this place, and that
there are a few more kids with warm hats on their heads.
The steadfast love of
Ruby and Genevieve and the other saints.
It lives on in you now as you serve soup and welcome people. And one day it will live on in those who come
after us. The next generation of Kingdom
keepers, seeking to be the salt and the light in the world.
The Kingdom is ours to
build and share. It is not an easy tasks
- - there will always be challenges. And
disappointments. But the steadfast love
of God is ours – forever – and God will not let us go.
In honor of the saints
who were faithful and those of us seeking to be faithful now, may we live in
such a way that the seeds we receive - - beans or tomatoes or otherwise - - go
on to others as fruit, and that the fruit that we receive goes on to others as
sustenance and light and love. May we
continue to live in and to build Christ’s Kingdom. Not just for us here and now, but for those
who will come after us for generations to come.
To the glory of God.
All glory be to you, O