Summary: Where are you on the line between optimism and pessimism? What is the right balance? Let's see what we learn from the tower of Babel. A. The human spirit triumphs. Not! B. Like at Babel, so still today C. The Holy Spirit centers us on Jesus and his cross
Text: Genesis 11:1-9
Theme: The Human Spirit Fails, But the Holy Spirit Prevails
A. The human spirit triumphs. Not!
B. Like at Babel, so still today
C. The Holy Spirit centers us on Jesus and his cross
Season: Pentecost - c
Date: May 23, 2010
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/The-Human-Spirit-Fails,-But-the-Holy-Spirit-Prevails-Genesis11_1-9.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Through this word from God recorded in Genesis 11, the Holy Spirit points us to God work in our lives.
"All the earth was one language with the same words. When they traveled eastward, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and settled there. Each one said to his neighbor, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them in fire." They used brick instead of stone and used tar as mortar. They said, "Come, let's build a city for ourselves and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Let's make a name for ourselves, so that we are not scattered over the face of the earth."
"The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of man had built. The LORD said, "Behold, they all are one people and one language, and this is just the beginning of what they'll do. Now nothing will keep them from whatever they devise to do. Come, let us go done and mix up their languages there, so that no one understands the language of his neighbor." The LORD scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, since there the LORD mixed up the language of the whole earth. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
A. The human spirit triumphs. Not!
1. Where do you lie on the line between optimist and pessimist?
Do you recognize what news event this audio clip refers to? That's the voice of Steve Nesbitt from NASA mission control on January 28, 1986. I was standing in the lunch line in high school that day when the vice-principal said that it exploded. The space shuttle, Challenger, had exploded. But it was NASA. They had put a man on the moon. They had beat the Soviets in the space race. They could do anything. How could this happen to NASA?
The human spirit dreams impossible dreams. May 25, 1961, President Kennedy addressed Congress saying, "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space. . ." (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/Urgent+National+Needs+Page+4.htm). Then on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong says, "That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind" (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/a11/a11.step.html). The human spirit triumphs!
How many commencement addresses this time of the year echo that theme? "Reach for the stars and you'll achieve your dreams." The human spirit triumphs! In so many stories we tell, the human spirit triumphs over any obstacle, whether that's conquering space, the final frontier, or overcoming the elements of nature, or wrestling with personal demons. Wish upon a star for your hearts desire. Winning the victory against a bigger, stronger, opponent. We love underdog and the Cinderella stories. The human spirit triumphs no matter what the odds. Even children stories breath it. Be the little engine that could. "I-think-I-can. I-think-I-can." "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" From little on up we learn that the march of progress will overcome any barrier, any disease, any set back, any failure. Hope springs eternal. The human spirit triumphs!
We see that spirit throughout the ages. Over 2000 years ago the ancient Greek Protagoras declared, "Man is the measure of all things." Yes, the human spirit triumphs! And around 2000 years or so before that, mankind said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves" (Genesis 11:4 NIV). Can we do it? Yes we can! The human spirit triumphs!
But it didn't, did it? Not at Babel, not with the ancient Greeks who are long gone. And not with us today. The space shuttle explosion brought that home, not to mention the numerous wars, disease, disasters, accidents, earthquakes, airplane crashes, oil spils that daily remind us how fragile and frail we are. The human spirit fails again and again. The underdog doesn't always win. Cinderella is often left in the ashes. Despondency, despair, depression. Under such pessimism society deteriorates. People wallow in self-pity. Life crumbles. Escape into the bottle or pill box. Drown out reality out with constant entertainment. Why work hard? Why try to get ahead? You'll fall on your face. The human spirit fails.