Sermon Title: “Kneeling: A Metaphor for Every Day.”
Rev. Carol Prochaska
Thanks to a space telescope astrophysicists now know that our galaxy is only one of the trillions of galaxies. Experts now think the question isn’t whether there is life elsewhere, but how to find it. So states the March National Geographic. How does one respond to such a revelation? Do we shake our heads in dismay? Do we raise our eyes to marvel at the heavens and an Unseen Creator? Listen again to these words from Revelation: “Then in my vision, I heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne together with the living creatures and the elders. They were numberless, thousands and tens of thousands, and they all cried out …”The Revised Standard Version says that those around the throne “numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands singing with a full voice …”
Is this not science and scripture stretching us? Is this not science and scripture evoking awe and praise? Surely this is science and scripture summoning us to our knees – metaphorically.
I’m proposing that we think of kneeling as a mindset—a chosen mindset. So kneeling becomes a metaphor for the everyday living of our lives.
Firstly: We choose to kneel so as not to go it alone.
Secondly: We choose to kneel so that we are attentive to the Presence of the Holy.
Thirdly: We choose to kneel to celebrate God and God’s Goodness
We choose to kneel so as not to go it alone. We get this! When pressed we remember that we live in God’s world. We are not alone. However, how often we just dive into our daily tasks as if our truth is “I’ve got this God. I’ll take it from here! Thanks anyway!” And we’re off! In Psalm 30 the psalmist says, “When I presumed I was secure, I boasted, I’ll never be defeated!”
(“I’ve got this! I’ll take it from here.”) The psalmist goes on to say: “When I stood in your favour, Yahweh, I stood as firm as a mountain. But then you [God] hid yourself from me.” Who did the hiding? Had God really gone away? Was God not with this person all along? After declaring that God had hidden Godself, the psalmist, feeling terror, calls to God and pleads for help. We choose to kneel so as not to go it alone. We choose to be in the mindset that we need God every hour of every day.
We choose to kneel admitting that on our own we don’t do so well. We choose to kneel to be on the alert for the presence of the Holy. Yesterday was Kentucky Derby Day. In my entire life, I’ve been to one actual horse race. I didn’t watch the Kentucky Derby yesterday but I take note of the event and I smiled. I smiled because of two elderly women I knew in Syracuse, Nebraska, a town where I served a United Church of Christ congregation.
Maud and Tillie were sisters in their late 80’s. Maud often attended church but Tillie was frail, somewhat crippled and lived her life as a shut-in. On a certain Saturday, I planned to make a brief stop at Maud and Tillie’s. I was just going to say hello and then be on my way to do other things. When I arrived they could not contain their excitement – it was Kentucky Derby Day! “We’re so happy you’ve stopped by! Please stay. Watch the race with us. We’ve made iced tea and we’ve got freshly baked cherry pie.”
Oh yes, I could smell the pie—so appealing! The iced tea—not so much. The Kentucky Derby—not at all appealing. But not finding a way to decline their invitation, I stayed. Was I on the alert for the Presence of the Holy—not really! I sat on their couch in front of the TV. I was served iced tea and a large piece of warm cherry pie covered with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
As you probably know hats are a very big part of the Kentucky Derby. If you’ve seen the hats you’ll remember that they are gigantic. They are loaded with ribbons and bows, flowers and fruit and feathers and birds and who knows what all. “Look at that hat! Exclaimed Tillie. “Oh! There’s one I’d wear.” Chimed-in Maud. Tillie chose one and urged me to do the same. Not being a hat person, I half-heartedly picked-out one. Of course they were well acquainted with the horses competing and of course, they had their favourite horse. Admitting my ignorance I declined to choose a horse. As frail as Tillie was she practically leaped out her seat to urge her horse toward the finish line. Maud’s cheers were just as loud and excited as she called out the name of her horse. As best as I can recall neither of their horses won. What I do remember is that their hospitality and their enthusiasm gave me an experience I would never have sought out. They expanded my world.
Jesus invited the disciples to come and eat. I was invited to sit and be served. Jesus’ disciples ate bread and fish. God was there. I ate cherry pie and ice cream. God was there.
Kneeling is a mindset that expects God to be present. Kneeling is an attitude of openness, a receptivity that frees us to experience more of the world, more of others, and more of God.
We choose to kneel so as not to go it alone. We choose to kneel to be on the alert for the presence of the Holy. When we kneel – when we metaphorically kneel – we prepare ourselves to experience God’s Goodness and to celebrate that goodness. The following is a favourite story of mine. I’ve shared it before. A little girl walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to school.
As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped, along with lightning. The mother of the little girl was concerned, and so she got into her car to drive along the route to her child’s school. As she did, she saw her little girl. At each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile. More lightning followed and each time the little girl would look up and smile. When the mother drew up beside the child, she lowered her window and called out “What are you doing?” The little girl’s answer: “I smiling at God because God keeps taking my picture.”
What are we doing? Are we living as alleluia persons? Are we celebrating God? When dark clouds form and the rain falls do we say “Oh darn, I just had the car washed!”
In the past weeks, we’ve been sadly aware of too much water as in the devastating floods in eastern Canada. Such horrific levels of water. And that too puts us on our knees: first to pray for those affected and for those who are assisting and secondly to be guided into sharing from our resources. On our knees, we discover ways to cooperate with God in bringing about goodness into other lives and especially those who are suffering.
Kneeling is a metaphor for a chosen mindset. We choose to kneel so as not to go it alone. We choose to kneel so that we are attentive to the Presence of the Holy. We choose to kneel to celebrate God and God’s Goodness.