Summary: This is a sermon that I have preached successfully about 40 times in the USA. IT has a very powerful ending and is richly illustrated with stories from Africa where I have lived and served as a pastor for 15 years.
Text: Ezekiel 16:4-6
Rev. Gregory L. Fisher
Kampala Foursquare Church
I need to being my message today with a small confession. Small, but I think important to today’ s message. I need to confess to you that I am a member of the Mickey Mouse Club generation. Do you remember the Mickey Mouse Club? I mean in its FIRST incarnation in the late 1950’s?
We of the Mickey Mouse Club generation grew up with wonderful Walt Disney feeding us small droplets of hope that modern science would provide a wonderful future for us all. Actually, it wasn’t really science at all, but, rather it was POSITIVISM. You know that PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE that believes that MODERN SCIENCE coupled with HUMAN ENDEAVOR would cure all the world’s ills.
I remember as a small boy going to visit Disneyland; the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH shouted the banner out front. If the lines are too long at Disneyland, suggested my father the minimalist, we could just toss our money over the fence and be done with the exercise.
Do you remember TOMORROWLAND? Sure you do! The first time I went there I saw this animated display program in a huge circular building. I can’t remember clearly if the stage moved around or if the audience moved, but I do remember that we moved from scene to scene. Each scene giving us a sneak preview of life in that far off and magical year 2000. That year held such promise!
** Cars would be replaced by some kind of hovercraft. Road accidents would be a thing of the past as the hovercraft car was to be guided along by computer controls and wires hidden under the roadway. All the while Dad and Mom and the two kids would sit in a kind of club car configuration.
Of course that display was wrong on two counts: (1.) That there would be hovercraft commercially available in 2000, and (2.) that the nuclear family would survive into the 21st century.
** Kitchens in the 21st century would be jammed with wonderful labor saving tools.
** Sickness and disease, when it occurred at all, would be quickly and effectively treated.
** Poverty and crime would be all but eliminated by improved educational opportunities.
** Life in that far off and distant year 2000 would be, in a word, UTOPIAN!
It was, in fact, the last gasp of a dying modernist view of the world and its positivism. The reality has been grim. The magical year 2000 came and went--did you notice it? What do we have as a reality?
** A world more deeply divided by wars than ever before.
** Racism is healthier than ever before thanks to that contribution of modernity and technology: The Internet.
** Diseases more deadly and more violent in their killing power than we could have ever imagined in 1959. Diseases like:
HIV-AIDS. Probably 10% of the adults in my congregation are HIV+.
MAD COW DISEASE: Recently Maggie and I traveled through London, having a serious conversation about buying a hamburger at McDonalds in London! No one had ever heard of Mad Cow Disease in 1959!
EBOLA VIRUS: Maggie and I were living in Uganda in 2001 when we lived through the largest outbreak of Ebola Virus in the history of the world.
** A deep alienation cuts through our world. The generations are so alienated that we have now produced the “whatever” generation. Where young people can go to school armed with weapons and take the lives of teachers and students.
It is difficult for me to imagine an alienation so deep that it both affects and breaks the bonds of mother and child. But listen to this story I found just recently:
“Police today are looking for the mother of a new born infant found abandoned in a vacant field just off Interstate 45. The child, the third abandoned new born found in Jefferson County this year, was left on a pile of garbage partially covered with a plastic bag containing the afterbirth.
“The new born infant was found by Mr. Jesu Rodriguez, a temporarily unemployed carpenter who was walking along the Interstate collecting scrap metal and aluminum cans. Mr. Rodriquez said that he was attracted to the garbage pile by the child’s cries and found the new born infant still covered with blood, struggling to live. According to Mr. Rodriquez he picked up the small infant and quickly carried the child to County Memorial Hospital in his aging Ford pickup truck.
“Mr. Rodriguez reportedly told hospital workers, “I was so scared. I just drove to the hospital as fast as I could. I kept saying over and over, PLEASE DON’T DIE. LIVE!”
Isn’t that a compelling story? It could be a metaphor for modern life. Many of us sitting here today have felt the brutal sting of rejection. Some of us here today personally know what it is like to be rejected by one or both of our parents. Some of us may know what it is like to experience the rejection that comes from having some kind of disease, or disability. Or, you may know what it is like to be rejected and despised simply because of the color of your skin or your language.