Psalm 97; John 17.20-26
Three powerful words to guide our lives and give us hope.
Three powerful words:
Climb every mountain.
Ford ever stream.
Follow every rainbow.
And where are the rainbows?
After a rainstorm, of course … the sun at the right angle, some rain still in the atmosphere, we see the refraction of light, a crayon-box of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Who hasn’t enjoyed the stories of the pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow … who wouldn’t want to find that pot o’gold? … but the rainbow’s end is never found … if it’s over there, and we move toward it, it moves ahead of us … we never reach it, but we can follow it …
Much of life involves following … the framers of our Declaration of Independence so noted: as in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” - it’s the pursuit that makes for life … going after something, with heart and soul, all the gusto we can manage … follow the rainbow!
I love to watch children at play - how earnest they are … screaming and hollering, of course, running full tilt - children at play are children at work … they learning … they’re learning the elements of life -
Goal-setting, working it out with others …
Who owns what? whose is that?
How to share … how to get somewhere …
Simon Says and Follow the Leader…
Children follow the rainbow, the rainbow of life - keepin’ on keepin’ on … their own little world … learning to do things they’ll do for for the rest of their life.
All of us follow a rainbow … whatever the rainbow may be -
We all have a good many rainbows … get through school, find a job, fall in love, maybe we get married, maybe we have children … we make new friends, build a home, head for retirement, maintain our health, make it through an illness … and in the end, we touch the eternal light of God …
We flow like water back to the sea - back to the heart of God, from whence we all came.
Follow … it’s a good word …
We follow our heroes, our teachers, mentors, parents, grandparents …
We follow our dreams …
The poet, Langston Hughes, wrote:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Follow is a very good word …
On this Memorial Day Sunday, no better words than those of Lincoln at Gettysburg:
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Follow is a very good word … and a dangerous word, too.
Not every dream is worthy of our effort … not every rainbow is real … all that glitters isn’t gold, we rightly say …
My son and I attended the Star Wars Convention in Anaheim the last few days.
A summary of Star Wars? … it’s all about following a dream, a rainbow … with a serious reminder: not every dream is a good dream, not every rainbow is true!
The Force of life - a dark side, a light side …
Power that seeks domination and control… power that liberates and creates.
Power that thrives on hate … power that lives on love.
The power of death … the power of life.
Darth Vader … Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Follow can be a dangerous word …
“Follow me” said Hitler to his Brown Shirts …
“Follow me” said Jefferson Davis to those who favored slavery …
“Follow me” said the leaders of the January 6 insurrection …
“Follow me” shout preachers and politicians, only to lead their followers into sadness, shame, misfortune … and too often, violence and death.
The young man in Texas … the young man in Buffalo - what hideous dreams would possess these young men?
Some say: “They’re mentally unstable,” and they are - but they found dreams on the internet, the dark underbelly of our society - dreams of violence and death - the love of guns.
Mentally unstable? of course, but feeding on deadly dreams and violent rhetoric.
With laws too lax, laws nothing more than loopholes.
And now the recent damning report coming out of the Southern Baptist Church - lies, cover-ups … to protect the church at the expense of lives, lives crushed, lives ruined.
History is full of deadly dreams and evil rainbows … the sad stories of people, entire nations, caught up in the whirlwinds of falsehood and death.
Follow can be a dangerous word.
“Choose wisely,” says the Grail Knight to Indiana Jones, “for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
The false Grail … the true Grail …
Nightmares of death … dreams of life …
Rainbows to heaven … highways to hell …
How do we know?
Can we test the dream?
Can we measure the rainbow?
Indiana Jones chose the simplest cup, because it was the cup of a carpenter. The Grail Knight said: “You have chosen wisely.”
Here in this place, in this time, once again, we choose … tomorrow, we’ll choose again … and the next day … fundamental choices that lead to life … hope … liberty … and freedom.
How do we know?
God has given us good counsel and much wisdom …
Christ born in Bethlehem.
Christ baptized in the Jordan River.
Christ tempted in the wilderness.
Christ speaking gently to the children.
Tenderly to the woman entrapped by cruel men.
Respectfully to the woman at the well,
Kindly to the woman washing his feet with her tears ...
Christ before Pilate ... Christ on the Cross … Christ in the Tomb, and Christ risen from the dead.
Let this Christ be the test of every rainbow that comes your way … let this Christ be the measure of every dream you have …
Let this Christ be your Christ!
Amen and Amen!