Eric's Sunday Sermon: Sobriety, Love and God
So this fellow was stone cold sober
If I appear too sober show me the children playing.
For those of you who have wondered if a sermon must be presented in a state of soberness, the answer is no it does not. In fact it is nearly the opposite. There must be a drunkenness afoot in order feel that which must be felt. You see a sermon is not a lecture. A sermon is not the relating of one’s thoughts to another. If it is not more than that it fails and should be viewed as such. Is sobriety all it is cracked up to be? Perhaps and then again perhaps not.
We shy here from giving a normal definition of sobriety. The reason is that it may cloud or limit our acceptance of something much more. Let us consider sobriety as a state of mind possessing clarity and aforethought. We would not find the statement: “In a moment of sobriety he saw clearly….” As strange at all. We get what that statement means. But have we as a society placed undue restrictions on the wonderful human mind when we speak of sobriety?
Tightly wound and intense in purpose, clear headed and ready to take action. Extreme focus and abundant preparation. Wow! That is how we get something done. I think we would call that being sober. And be sober we must. Let us hold that thought it is very sobering.
I'll take drunk with love any day over being sober.
Sober mommy was plenty upset with silly boy and dad
Real quick before we go further.
Would you rather be sober?
Drug and alcohol free?
What if we defined sobriety as being totally in the moment without mind altering substances. Well I have some bad news for you. You would basically be dead. Our human bodies are factories of chemicals. With around 60 elements being found in the body and millions of bacteria just to function normally. We have billions of neurons in our brain and all require a proper chemical base just to function. Without so much as turning a remote control as we sit in a lounge chair we can alter the chemicals and thereby alter our sobriety with nearly no control. Just watch the evening news and you can feel a difference in your body. You can alter your chemical state without so much as thinking about a glass of wine. And just think about that chocolate treat and chemicals will produce a salivation in your mouth. Throw in things like caffeine, sugar, red meat and sights, sounds and smells and you have an extravaganza of internally produced mind altering substances. So real sobriety is a myth, if it includes freedom from mind altering substances.
Here is a fun one. Meditate and pray to “clear” your mind and be sober. Sorry dudes and dudettes, that does not fly. That peace and tranquility you feel is a chemically induced mind alteration. We won’t go to far into that but in your leisure explore: https://books.google.com/books?id=5tE_CQAAQBAJ&pg=PT226&lpg=PT226&dq=the+chemical+causes+of+euphoria+and+tranquility&source=bl&ots=-6n5FAkUyF&sig=ScW8_DJpfr2kc8687MM730k6LkI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAmoVChMI1YqswoHRxwIVQo4NCh3d5AWE#v=onepage&q=the%20chemical%20causes%20of%20euphoria%20and%20tranquility&f=false It is a real hoot!
Not one without the other.
Step back for a moment and look again at what you just read in the beginning here. It is sobriety produced. It is the basic foundation that must be laid in order that we can get to the meat of the subject. For a preacher man it is the boring part of a sermon. But necessary so that we get on the same page. It gives us a platform from which to delve further. Really in a Christian sermon that part is usually where scripture is cited. On a structural level such reference to scripture makes a whole lot of sense. It gives us commonality of what we are addressing and is quite helpful in understanding. Not necessarily for the truth of what is asserted but rather as a meeting place of the minds before we set off into the luxury of deep thought. And that brings us to a point of lack of sobriety. Sometimes we need some sober moments to get it together.
Let us just agree that not being drunk on whiskey is a darn fine place to start.
Now there is a sobering picture
Enough of this sober talk!
Check your sober minds at the door for a moment and let go. Feel. Let those chemicals in your body take control. Lose your inhibitions. Leave the coloring inside the lines to someone else for a moment. Come be drunk with me. Half the time I am so tightly wound you would swear I was going to snap under the tension like those guitar strings. Ping! Here is a fun one. This past week we had a heat wave. Our temperatures here are generally so mild we skip heaters and air conditioners. So when it gets hot, we get hot. On Thursday I felt hot. I checked the temperature at 100 degrees and felt hotter. You see how silly I am? I let a thermometer tell me I was hotter than I was. I did not feel the heat I thought the heat. Let us leave that sober thinking alone for a moment.
“I love you”. Now if that is a sober expression then I am doing it wrong. Love when it is alive is an intoxicant. A deep abiding love of God is as intoxicating as it gets. Yes an argument can be made that all believers and worshippers are addicts. We just cannot get enough of that euphoria and sweetness that comes from our connection to God. Praise and worship that produces that giddiness is not sobering. Here are some examples of other things that make me feel great. Just hanging out with my 5 year old and doing what he wants to do. Snuggling with my bride of well over a decade. A Sunday call from a dear friend just to say they love me and are thinking of me. Hard work with a shovel in God’s glorious earth. Finishing a long hard day of hiking in wilderness. Clear beautiful cooling rain on my face. A flower that blooms unexpectedly. Having someone tell me “great job”. Giving a sermon when it comes from the heart.
The intoxication of Love and God does not come easily. A man walks into a bar, saunters up to the bartender and orders a shot of love and a glass of gratitude. The bartender gives him a shot glass filled with air and a beer glass filled with water. The man breathes in the air and chases it down with cool nourishing water. He asks “what is the charge barkeep?” The barkeep answers “keep it a secret, it will put me out of business”. Our world around us does not want us getting all hopped up on the good things in life. There is no profit in it for man.
But alas we cannot just walk into a bar and order up our feelings. This brings us back to sobriety. Let us rethink it. Sober by most common modern definitions simply means not drunk. And then the second definition becomes “serious”. That tells us a lot. Bottom line is that you cannot be sober while in a state of intoxication from alcohol. Fair enough. I prefer to be sober in that sense. For some there is a time and place for drunkenness involving alcohol. We would hope it is not a goal. So if I want to be sober/serious about something there is a time and place for that also. I have a brother and if someone asks him if he is serious about something he likely replies, “serious as a heart attack”, the meaning is not lost on me. I do not want to stroke out or have a heart attack because I am just too sober about life. It is not real clear as to whether being serious is as much the attempt at holding back and controlling our reactions to our chemical factory as it is the concentrated effort of producing chemicals that keep us serious. Probably a bit of both. I would suggest that that is not healthy. Plumbing gets stressed out when what it is carrying does not flow naturally. A blockage here and too much pressure there will cause a burst in our pipes.
Today I suggest that you blow off a little steam. That you become unsober. I just in good conscience cannot suggest that you do it with booze. I suggest that you loosen the reins a bit and just go ahead and get drunk on love and God. Tomorrow will carry its’ own burdens tomorrow. We are confident you will spend a great deal of your week very sober. I will leave it to the world to force you into seriousness. Allow me to nudge you into drunkenness for just a bit. We are having a rip roaring party and you are invited. I may even get coaxed into dancing and singing, maybe even waving my arms around in gratefulness and happiness. Excuse me but my young son is engulfed in a game, quite serious about it, I must go tickle him into submission.
My wife is a fairly young Christian who is going to read a portion of Ephesians in church today. She is studiously and soberly preparing and that is how she will present the reading. I pray that one day she will come to study and read it with joy and childlike intoxication.