for Sunday, August 11, 2013
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
12th Sunday after Pentecost
lectionary focus: Luke 12:32-40
props: hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” by Ina Duley Ogdon
first note: This summer I’ve been carrying in my heart a quote from President Eisenhower: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”* While it certainly fits here, I think including it would make the sermon too clunky. I share it to help you. Peace.
*full quote found at at the Eisenhower Archives under “Anecdotes,” Remarks at the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference, 11/14/1957
second note: The first line of Miss Ina’s song (“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,”) reminds me to sing the praises of Jill Stewart. Jill is my editor, researcher, inspiration, friend. Her name is not on each of my posts, but her fingerprints are. She is not that famous, but has quietly rocked the world of many, and made my corner much brighter.
One hundred years ago, a woman named Ina Duley Ogdon, who dreamed of becoming a preacher, was invited to speak at a big church rally. Unfortunately, her father was injured in a accident. Miss Ina decided to stay at home, giving up her preaching dream, to care for her father. The next year, she wrote a poem, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” to make the point that you don’t have to be an official preacher to preach God’s love. The words in her poem, which is now a hymn that we will sing with Miss Amanda in a few minutes, say: “Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar.” We don’t have to be famous to make a difference. We don’t need to wait for a special job or a special moment to share God’s love. Wherever we are, if we are shining with God’s love, then others far away in troubled places will be able to get through their tough times, much like a lighthouse at the beach guides ships to safe waters. When Miss Ina’s plans changed, she brightened the corner where she was, still making herself a blessing to others.
In our Bible story today, Jesus calls us to keep our lamps lit. Even when we make plans, we must be open to the unexpected…and be prepared to brighten the corner where we end up. Jesus tells us “Do not be afraid.” Instead, we should be curious about what the day will bring and prepared for the possibilities that will come our way. We don’t have to wait to be great. It is good to have dreams and plans and think about what to do in the future, but wherever God puts us, we can shine and share and be a blessing to others. And then we ourselves are blessed.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)
for being my treasure.
to brighten the corner where I am
that I may shine and share
And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing Miss Ina’s hymn.
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.