Sunday, October 17, 2010

SERMON: God, Faith, Service

A mulberry tree

Date: October 3, 2010
Sermon Text: Luke 17:5-10

Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen. 

[Introduction] Our Gospel lesson this morning is about faith and miracles. When I think about faith and miracles, my mind always jumps immediately to the so-called “faith healers” that can be seen on Sunday morning television. One famous faith healer, whose name we’ll change to “Rev. James,” proclaims that God has given him the gift of healing, and when he prays for someone, they often fall over unconscious, overwhelmed by the experience. They are “slain in the Spirit.” I don’t doubt the sincerity of these actions. I myself have experienced, in instances of intense personal and corporate prayer, extreme vertigo. But the whole scenario certainly raises some questions about faith for me.

And the questions are only exacerbated when a seminary friend of mine, who knows of my deep and abiding love of Star Wars, sends me doctored YouTube videos. This video he sent me took clips of Rev. James slaying people in the Spirit and combined it with the moving battle music from the Star Wars films. And, to top it off, the clever video editors put a glowing red lightsaber in Rev. James’ hands. In each of the original clips, Rev. James swings his arms at the people to slay them in the Spirit, but in the edited version, he’s knocking individuals and groups over with one swing of his lightsaber. “Rev. James,” the video proclaims, “Dark Lord of the Sith.”