DATE: 15 November 2015
TO: Manantial de Gracia
TITLE: “Liars, and Cheaters and Bears…oh my!” Part 2: Quit Cheating

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“Liars, and Cheaters and Bears…oh my!” Part 2

Happy SUNDAY church!!!

Last moth I preached a sermon titled “Liars, and Cheaters and Bears…oh my!” and I promised that it was part of a series that we would be returning to. For those of you who missed it, I will be posting it on our church website in the next few weeks. But here are some key points that you might find useful in framing todays sermon.

The sermon title is a reference to the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ. As Dorothy asks her new friend the Tin Man if he thinks they will “meet any wild animals” on their journey he answers, “we might.” And then the Scarecrow asks, if these wild animals might be the type to eat straw and the Tin Man answers, “uh some, but mostly Lions, and Tigers, and Bears…” And thus begins the chant… Lions, and Tigers and Bears…OH MY!

See, when you are in unfamiliar territory you often wonder about the danger you might be exposed to… Thus Dorothy’s question about WHAT wild animals might be lurking about. But Scarecrows question about what these wild animals might eat has always intrigued me… Do they eat STRAW he asks full of fear…

It was at this point that we discussed the purpose of a scarecrow as a lie told by the farmers to animals lurking about in the fields… How sad it must be to have to question the intent of the stories we here in order to determine how these lies are used to take our happy thoughts and cloud them over with their filth… And still we welcome them.

We used the story of David in the wilds of his fathers farm as the reality of a well oiled strategic survivor… by any means means necessary.

And then we zeroed in on the ways in which we have become the best of liars. Sharing with the world around us the great gifts God has given us…sharing the blessings of today without putting those gifts in their proper framework…where we came from that led us to this NEW THING has been lost in our telling of the story. We are liars when we “forget” and omit the first part of our story. We are liars when we share the good and forget the bad…

And then, we cheat. We try to cheat. We find new and improved ways to cheat the system. We find soft and tender ways to try to cheat God out of the beauty of our story.

Todays sermon is titled Liars and Cheaters and Bears (Part 2)!
Let me ask you a question: have you ever looked up the word CHEATERS in the dictionary? I will be honest and say, that until this sermon I had not. For I had a clearly defined sense of what that word meant.

I had a lived and hurt experience with that word. That word was painful, hurtful, heartbreaking. It is a defining word. It is who I was. It is what was done to me. It is part of my personal history. And in many ways it is part of my family legacy and an on going generational curse.

But in my desire to be thorough, I looked the word up. And hear is its definition:
1. A person who acts dishonestly in order to gain an advantage.
2. A person who cheats on a sexual partner

Other dictionaries, define this word as:
1. One that cheats. Pretender. Deceiver
2. The act or instance of fraudulently deceiving: deception, fraud.
3. The obtaining of property from another by an intentional ACTIVE distortion of the truth.

Synonyms for this word include: fraudster, swindler, hoaxer, tricker

Let me start the conversation by again picking on our friend, King David. He is an easy one to look at as he was so good at getting his way. David watched a married woman from his place of power. If you want to read the story for yourself, and I suggest you do (2Samuel 11).

At the time when kings NORMALLY go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelites to fight the Ammonites. He stayed home in Jerusalem. Late one day, after his noontime nap he went walking up on the palace roof. And from way up high, from the heights of the palace he looked down at a beautiful woman who was bathing…

In our Bibles we read that he asked others who she was and was told that she was the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hitite, Bath-sheba. In the original Hebrew translations, it says that he literally asked himself “isnt that Bath-sheba” a woman whose beauty was lauded far and wide and whose father and husband he knew by name, by position, by stories… He knew that her husband was away at war…

And then from his position of power he requested her presence in the palance. Using modern language we can say that there was a power differential. He had total power and total control. She was only a woman, only a daughter, only a wife. And she “became” pregnant. In many of our traditions and churches we here her story as that of a temptress…and while that might be true, I am reminded that in 1kings 15:5 David is exalted as doing all that is right in the eyes of God EXCEPT what he did to Uriah the Hittite. The exception is usually thought to be the murder of Uriah, but some modern scholars would posit that the entirety of the Uriah story is a wrong in the eyes of God.

This was an instance of more than cheating on a sexual partner… David acted dishonorably in order to gain an advantage…he acted dishonorably in order to get his way…

As David explained to King Saul, at the beginning of the David story when he was a young ruddy cheeked boy going into the battlefield against trained, tried and battle proven opponent, Goliath, anything that took my sheep, I went after it, fought it and took back what was mine. Liars and cheaters… Oh my.

We the church of today are called to an expansive and expanding welcome recognizing that through our doors walk the great liars, cheaters and connivers. And sometimes they walk in disquised as us.
When we take God out of the boxes we put God into through our limited understandings and human frailties recognize that we need not take off our glasses and pretend that we can see. God gave us senses and Holy Spirit guidance.

Sometimes we forget that God gave us sense… Have you ever heard of proof texting?

It is an art form. It is a deception. It is a way of cheating…we are called to use our Spiritual senses even in the midst of learning, especially in the midst of hearing the Word of God.

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