Eric's Sunday Sermon; Inspiration
What inspires you?
Just what is inspiration?
Get inspired! Did you know that inspiration can mean the act of drawing air into the lungs? A rather important act if you want to live. "You are the very air I breathe in order to survive". That puts an interesting twist on the concept of inspiration. Before reading further stop for a moment if you will and try to define inspiration in your head. It is a nebulous concept that tries to defy definition. Inspiration does not fit nicely into definitions. Yet it seems to be a very important aspect of our lives. Inspiring someone is a wonderful act of charity.
I went to an old stand by to get a definition of inspiration. Merriam-Webster has one of the most noncommittal definitions I have ever read. The top spot goes like this:" : something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone." Really now. A definition that uses "someone" twice and "something" twice in one sentence?
Yes this is a strange way to start a sermon. Not very inspiring is it? Well welcome to the world of the spiritual. In the spiritual arena we find folks that really try hard to define and set down facts and "the way it is" for other people. Truths are bottled and configured so that they are easily understood by the masses and lend themselves to persuasion toward a particular belief. We reckon that is what preaching generally is.
Well please sit down for a moment and let me preach to you about a mystery of faith. A reality that you cannot predict or box in with a set of rules. We do not know exactly what it looks like but let us go find some inspiration. Hey we will know what it is when we find it. A leap of faith that it is there. Let us let go and go see!
This touts six hours of inspirational music. That just strikes me as a little too much inspiration. And I have trouble getting inspired by a picture of war. But
We wonder why certain things are inspirational to one and not to another.
Looking for inspiration.
There is a very interesting phenomena that just seems to be true. Somethings that we go looking for are just not something we can find by looking. Romantic love is just one of those things. It seems that it must find you. Now along those lines we have a very old concept that has been taken to very new heights. Dating services. Matches of compatibility based on algorithms. And there are thousands of testimonials out there telling us they work. Interesting to the extreme if you believe them.
And to be sure if you are looking for inspiration all you need do is go to the web and type in inspiration and something like photos, poetry or music and presto you can get inspired.
How about inspiration being found in the Bible or Koran or Dharma? Certainly you can type into your trusty search engine "inspiration Bible" and be lead straight away to inspiration.
There is something amiss about the above notions. "I am going to go get inspired". It just rings hallow. Inspiration just does not seem like a 1+1=2 concept. Perhaps it is to you. Please share that with us in the comment section.
There is a man I know who just this week told me that he gets all inspired by pictures of naked women. Sure we get that. But inspired to do what exactly? And there you have it. The gem we are looking for right in front of our faces. Inspiration does not exist as a thing, it has no lifeblood apart from the "to" word. Inspiration does not exist apart from the action we are inspired to take.
We would look very strangely at the woman who just sat there and said that she was full of inspiration. We would of course ask her "inspiration to do what?"
Does the sun rising over the Grand Canyon inspire you?
This song seems to always come up under a search for inspirational music. You decide.
Inspired versus motivated
There is a fine line between motivated and inspired. But it helps us to understand inspiration. A paycheck at the end of the week is not inspirational it is motivational. An ad for a super sale is not inspirational it is motivational. The best we can make out is that somehow inspiration has the attribute of the spiritual.
Here is a fun distinction. At least a few times a year a preacher will give a sermon on giving your money to the preacher's cause. They will for sure reference some bible verses. They will extol the virtues of giving and stewardship. And to be sure some of these have motivated me to give. But I have never been inspired to give money. In my view Merriam-Webster makes a rather large mistake with this second listing for inspiration ": a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something". Nope I am not buying that inspiration is that that makes us do something. That is motivation. But yes I am fully in on the concept that it makes us want to create something. I told you it was an interesting distinction.
Now let us "get" inspired.
Look inward please. Then look outward. So far this sermon is anything but inspirational. It is making me yawn. Hang on there and stick with it. This part is easier to do than to explain. Let me show you.
I need you. I am feeling insecure and a bit lost. I have lost my confidence and passion. In my head I know that I am a child of God and that I am talented and skillful. But in my heart I am lacking and find no comfort in what I do. But with your help I can rise above and again fill my heart with a purpose and strength to carry on and go forth bearing fruit. You have it within you to raise me up. You are special and have the gift I need to thrive. You can be that breath of air that inspires me. By your kindness and gentleness you can soothe me. By your strength and support you can push me to greater heights and fulfillment. You have what I need and I need your brotherly love.
The above is sincere. I am a normal human if that is possible. Like most of our brothers and sisters I suffer as I describe. And that part about you is also true. We, each one of us, has the power to inspire another. The human condition is such that some have and some have not. Here we speak of a very fluid situation. One of the spirit and not the material. Sometimes we have it and sometimes we don't. Now let me motivate you.
We, by our nature, can inspire others. It does not take inspiration to be an inspiration. It just takes some motivation to do something. This one is easy. Tell someone that you love them and that their contributions enrich your life. Tell them the truth. Actually tell them something that you would like them to do for you. Actually value them and let them know it. Take an interest in the things they do. Ask them about their passions.
The one thing that inspires me every single time I do it is; inspiring others.
Some self help gurus tell you that you can do this for yourself all by yourself. There are all kinds of issues with that concept. "Inspire yourself" is an interesting area to explore. But it brings us to our final thought.
One day, one hour a certain song brings me inspiration. The same song in a different day in a different hour does not inspire me. The song remains the same. The only thing that changes is me and my attitude. That tells us quite clearly that inspiration is really an inside job. So how do we ready ourselves to receive inspiration? The answer is startling.
We have to want to be inspired. Easier said than done.
And that brings us to the sermon part. Truth be told inspiration is just a fancy way of saying that God and love are in our hearts. All kinds of things can transport that love. The absolute best conveyor is people. The only criteria for love and God entering our hearts and inspiring us is the desire. Today let us go forward and help someone want to be inspired.