Probably nuts, but I like clicking YouTube and watching television news station coverage of soldiers surprising their children by coming home early from wars. Daughters, and sons, suddenly looking up and seeing their father walking into the classroom, jumping up and running, running, running, leaping into his arms to hold and never let go. Or onto the ball field. Or into a graduation ceremony. Maybe I like those stories because it happened with me several times in my Navy life and later, and it brings it all back. That it’s there to bring back is what makes me human.
Sermons, or homilies -- what I did yesterday was a homily not a sermon and they are not the same even though some Episcopal clergy think they are being sophisticated or more “catholic” by using the term “homily” regardless -- can have many objectives. One such that I enjoy now and then is helping folks in the congregation immerse personally in a Bible story, either “being there” inside the story’s moment, or reliving a cherished moment of their own. You can be right there as Jesus enters a village on a sunny day, for example, and comes upon a desolating situation of human life and with a touch or a word makes everything right; you can walk upon the scene, be astonished and so glad that you came in from the field in time to witness it and know him. An event such as Mothers Day or Christmas or Easter may be the right time to open one’s own treasure chest of memories in a way that helps others relive a long forgotten moment, perhaps especially with loved ones who have died.
On a Sunday when we have a baptism, I like it when the lectionary for the day includes a good Bible story to hear, and then explain for the one about to be baptized, or for the sponsors and witnesses, that at your baptism every Bible story becomes your own personal property, these are no longer their stories, they are now my stories, your stories to read again, and learn, and tell others, and remember. And as we read and hear them again, enjoy just like a little child wanting to hear a favorite story read over and over and over again. Maybe it’s what Jesus meant when he said that about being born again, or when he said that unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of God. He liked simplicity, and he loved stories.
This summer and its Season after Pentecost is my good time to enjoy many old Bible stories that take me to my grandparents’ house in Pensacola years ago, and to going to Sunday School with my cousins, to relive it all again. Or going into Pop's office with a splinter in my foot, and have him lovingly dig it out and then pour on the iodine and sending me back out barefoot to play. Or climbing up in Mom's lap and asking her to tell me a story about Alfred. I love memories. I love doing that, going those places. I love the memory of Joe playing down the block with friends, suddenly spotting me getting out of the car as I arrive home from WestPac, and running, running, almost knocking me down as he leapt. All those stories are mine and will be in my mind as long as I’m still human.