Summary: This is the intro to my summer series on the "Kingdom of Heaven is Like. . ." We are using the Inukshuk as the frame work for the series so this intro sets it up
You see them everywhere now, along the road, in people’s gardens, as jewellery, they are everywhere. Correct me if I’m wrong but most of us never knew what an inukshuk was before the Canadian Heritage commercials. But now most of us know at least “now the people will know we were here”, even if we don’t know what it is called.
And for those who missed out on that entire series of commercials the Winter Olympics probably brought the concept of the inukshuk to the world at large. But, you might be asking, what do they have to with church in general and the Kingdom of God in particular? Glad you asked.
A year ago when I was preaching my series on the Traveller’s Gift I came upon the statement that “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like. . .” was used 9 times in the New Testament, and I decided that would be a good series of messages. In particular I thought it would be a good series of messages for this coming summer.
Well, sermons are like sausages, in most cases you are probably better off not knowing how they are created, but we will open that door a crack for you today.
When I prepare to preach a series of sermons I usually file away random thoughts, quotes and scriptures for weeks and sometimes months before I actually start writing. Some I use and some I throw away. Then a month or two before we get to the series start date Jason and I usually lock ourselves in his office and brainstorm through the series, where do we want it to go? What do we want you to learn? What are the themes or big ideas and how will the messages fit together?
We talk about possible video items or dramas and what music might work or not work. And then we start playing with graphic ideas. Will we use banners? What will the bulletins look like? What about PowerPoint backgrounds? And then eventually I start production of the actual messages, and each one will take me about twenty hours to produce. Because you understand that every year I produce the equivalent of a 350 page book. You didn’t have a clue did you? Truthfully, you thought this was the only day I worked and I just stood up and talked for twenty minutes making it up as I went along. Be truthful.
See I told you it was kind of like making sausages.
Well this time when Jason and I were in the process of what this series would look like we determined that each sermon was kind of like a rock that you would add to one another to build something, but what would that something be? A wall, a fence, an altar? And then I had a flash and said “You know those silly things you see along the side of the road”, because if nothing else I am culturally sensitive. And he said “you mean an inukshuk.” To which I replied, “Yeah whatever.”
And it kind of progressed from there, usually at that point we start having fun and think up all kinds of neat ideas including ones that we would do if money was no object and kind of winnow them down from there. Sometimes in the process you will be so close to it that you don’t see the entire picture and you embrace some ideas and concepts that are really dumb, so after we played around with the Inukshuk idea and what we could do with it Jason suggested we talk to a few people to see if the idea was viable or if it was just way to abstract. And in most cases people would nod and say “Yeah, that would work.” So here we are; “The Kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk.”
Because really Jesus would have said that if he had of been teaching in Nunavut instead of Palestine. You see, Jesus was a master of taking whatever was at hand and using it for an illustration in his teaching. He was incredibly relevant to his listeners. And so he said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” And he looked around and what did he see, a fisherman casting his net into the sea of Galilee, a bird landing on a mustard plant, a farmer sowing his seeds, workers harvesting grapes.
So I would suspect, that had Jesus been teaching in the Arctic he would have made statements like, “the kingdom of heaven is like a man who was hunting seals”, or “the Kingdom of heaven is like an arctic tern” then perhaps as he cast his eyes across the bleak horizon “The kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk.”
So with that in mind, join me on the journey. And if your knowledge of inuksuit, which is the plural of inukshuk, is limited to the Canadian Heritage commercial or the gnome and toadstool section of Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart, let me enlighten you a bit.