Summary: This ties up my summer series on the Kingdom of Heaven and brings us to what we need to do with what we have learned.
I have a confession to make and I hope you don’t think less of me after I’m done; That’s right I love country music. I love listening to the new artists like Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Dean Brody and I love listening to the outlaws from the seventies like Willie and Waylon and Merle Haggard and I even love listening to people like Mel Tillis and Buck Owens, George Jones and Dolly Parton. And my parents are to blame, it’s the only think I blame them for, and that’s because I grew up on Country music. My folks listened to Country and Western and until I received a portable record player as a gift when I was eleven or twelve I listened to what they listened to, bizarre concept isn’t it? There were no iPods, no mp3 players, no diskmans, no walkmans, no boom boxes. But at least we didn’t have to crank them. And so for my formative years if there was a record on the hi-fi, we had hi-fi back then and they were furniture. So if there was a record on the hi-fi there was a pretty good chance that it was Johnny Cash or Farron Young, Patsy Cline or Jim Reeves
Now when I became a teenager my listening became a little more colourful, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. Did the Kiss thing and Alice Cooper, Trooper and BTO, but deep down hidden in the secret place of my heart was this love for country music. When I was in high school the radio station in Saint John CHSJ played country for two hours in the afternoon between 2 and 4 and my best friend hated driving home with me because you know the rule, my car, my radio.
Now all that being said a few years ago I was watching a biography on Jim Reeves. Reeves was a major player in country music scene in the 1960s until he was killed in a plane crash in July of 1964. My folks had a couple of his record so he is what I would call classic country. And in the biography I was watching the comment was made about the problems he had being accepted into the country music scene because he used horns and violins. Violins, not fiddles but violins in his music. And that just wasn’t country.
The funny thing is that some of the country music celebrities who were remembering Reeves as such an innovator and saying what an impact he had had on the genre were some of the old guys that I have heard dumping all over new country. And that isn’t unique in Country music, listen to the old rockers talk about the new music, listen to the old actors talk about the new breed of actors, or for that matter listen to older Christians talk about what they think of the church today, of the music, the way people don’t dress up today to come to church and after they get there they drink coffee in the sanctuary.
This is the tenth and last week of my Summer Preaching series, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like. . .” and since the middle of June my preaching has focused on the eight parables that Jesus began with the words “The Kingdom of Heaven is like. . .” And we’ve travelled the roads of Palestine together as Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven to those who followed him using every day events to illustrate these eternal truths. A farmers spreading seed in a field, men picking grapes in a vineyard, a woman kneading bread in the kitchen, a fishing net being thrown into the sea. And through it all we have watched the Kingdom as it was planted, was cared for and flourished having an impact locally and globally.
And we started the series with an Inukshuk. Anyone want to buy a used Inukshuk? My first message was “The Kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk” and it was based on a couple of premises. The first being that the Inukshuk would have been just the type of thing Christ would have used as an illustration had he been teaching in the Far North instead of the Middle East. Not many wheat fields, mustard plants or vineyards in Nunavut. But the primary reason for the Inukshuk would have been that it would be very easy to see how the characteristics of the Inukshuk are characteristics that we should see exhibited in Christ followers as they live out the Kingdom of Heaven here and now.
And in case this is the first time you’ve been out, or if like me your memory is getting shorter and shorter we’ve talked about how the Inukshuk provided landmarks in an environment where there were very few natural landmarks. In the same way the church is to provide landmarks in a culture where there seems to be very few moral landmarks. By the way, that is not necessarily unique to our time and culture almost three thousand years ago this was written, Judges 17:6 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.