Summary: A sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 21
17th Sunday after Pentecost [Pr.21] September 27, 2009 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God the Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son into our world to seek the lost and to save those who dwell in a land of darkness and despair. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, stir in us compassion and concern for those who think that they are beyond hope and your saving grace. Protect and keep us from the snares of condemnation, and restore us in a sense of value and potential for our lives and for the growth of your kingdom. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Way too many years ago to remember the source of this illustration, I remember someone telling this story: “Did you ever feel like a frog? Frogs feel slow, low, ugly, puffy and drooped. I know. One told me. The frog feeling comes when you want to be bright but you feel dull. You want to share but you are selfish. You want to be thankful, but you feel resentment. You want to be big, but you feel small. You want to care, but you are indifferent.
I think that at one time or another, each of us have found ourselves on the lily-pad floating down the river of life, frightened and disgusted, but too frog like to do anything but budge from our security and risk getting involved.
We know the fairy tale. Once upon a time there was a prince who looked like a frog. A wicked witch had cast a spell on him. Only a kiss from a beautiful maiden could save him from his curse. But since when do beautiful maidens kiss frogs? So there he sat – an unkissed prince in the form of a frog. But miracles do happen. One day a beautiful maiden grabbed him up and gave him a kiss. Crash! Boom! Zap! And there he was, a beautiful prince. And he and the maiden lived happily ever after.
Well, you may be wandering, what does this have to do with our lessons for this morning? It is a two-fold answer. First, as Christians, we are to not be frog like, and ignore what goes on around us. And secondly, we are to kiss the frogs in our midst.
First, let me address what it means to be like a frog, content to flow down the river on a lily pad. As I was reading various commentaries for this sermon, I happened to hear my neighbor, who had gone out to get her mail, yelling at what looked like a puppy. The dog was barking and lunging at my neighbor, but at first, I didn’t know if she had gotten a new dog, or if it was just a playful pup. Then it bit her in her leg, and I heard my neighbor scream.
By the time that I decided to go help my neighbor, the owner of the dog came on the scene, and even she had trouble controlling the dog. But finally, she was able to pick the dog up, hand it to her son, and then took a moment to look at the dog bite on my neighbor’s leg, and walked away.
I couldn’t help thinking, that if I had immediately reacted to the screams of my neighbor, I might have been able to control the dog, prevent her from being bit, and saved her a trip to the hospital for tetanus shot.
What makes my delay in acting to this situation worse, is the fact that a half hour later, I saw a police car pull into my neighbor’s driveway. Instead of rushing over to offer my eyewitness testimony, I thought that the police might come and question me about the incident, since I was at home, with the garage door open. But that didn’t happen.
Even though I later went over to my neighbor’s home, and told them that I had seen the incident and would be willing to testify on their behalf, I felt like a frog floating down the river on a lily pad. I failed to act when I could have made a difference in the situation. It is an incident in my life that I am not proud of.
It is here that a word of explanation may be in order. In our Gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus uses hyperbole to convince his disciples of the judgement that might fall upon them for doing something that might cause someone new to their faith in Jesus, to stumble in their faith. He also warns the disciples to beware of their own sinfulness, their own failures to live according to the Word of God that Jesus reveals to them.