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Eric's Sunday Sermon; What of Inspiration?
Sometimes the heavens can provide inspiration
Finding the right stuff
It has been awhile since I last published a Sunday sermon. I have been writing them but not publishing. The reason is quite simple really. They were not inspired, and therefore not inspiring. Words put together that make perfect sense but carry not a message worthy of a sermon. A sermon mustn’t be a lesson. Oh sure one can learn things through a sermon but that can only be a partial purpose.
A much more important part of a sermon is the questioning that it instills in the receiver. To be sure many preachers then answer the question for the audience. That is an interesting idea. It reminds me of those huge lecture halls in college. If you want to get a good grade you had better regurgitate the answer on tests or papers. No not your answer but the professor’s answer. Does this method instill introspection and inspire further study and learning? I think not. So if the thoughts and questions posed do not inspire then the listener is not an active participant in their own growth. If the answer is provided what reason is there for further inquiry?
A scripture or other writing is provided/quoted. Then the preacher tells the group what it means. There are two men. They could not be any different. What brings them peace and pleasure are totally different. They have different goals and aspirations. They even have different health issues. One has a family and one does not. One is rich and the other poor. Now they both live by the Golden Rule “Do onto others as you would have them do unto to you”. Please ponder that for a moment.
Sometimes the path just seems to hard
Just a cool inspirational chorus song
Look for angels all around you
Now how are they to treat each other. Is it correct for either man to give to the other what he desires himself? To illustrate, my brother heard this rule and so bought mom a baseball glove for her birthday. Could it be that the unsaid clear implication of the rule makes it go like this; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – if you were them”? Would you visit to help a homeless man and give him a fancy blender? Now for you who follow such things there is a line in scripture, Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbor as yourself”. That is interesting stuff to think about. What of the many many people who simply have not learned to love themselves?
So here we find ourselves contemplating what seems straight forward at first glance. But the practical application of such concepts requires something else perhaps. We can see in loving relationships a wonderful common occurrence. Couples give into each other because it is what one of them really wants to do something or get something. Funny thing but I am more happy when my wife is happy than when I am happy, if that makes sense to you. The best explanation that I can come up with is that true love is added to the mix. But I am not sure if there is more to it than that.
If we are somehow inspired to act in love then we will act in love. I hope that you can find that inspiration from whatever source.
Some people equate motivation with inspiration. To me that is not correct. One of my favorite sayings is “If you take action motivation will follow”. Now our friends at Merriam-Webster give us this definition of inspiration: “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”. I find it interesting that they say “something”. I like the second part best “a force of influence that inspires someone”. How are we to inspire someone? Certainly not by telling them what to think or do. Perhaps by supportive words and a simple touch. Perhaps by example. Perhaps simply loving and showing that love. And perhaps by complimenting them on what they have already done. The right poem often does it for me.
For me most of the time my inspiration, I believe, comes from God. But I often find myself lacking that inspiration. That it would seem is a result of not putting God first. If we believe that God is pure love it would mean that we did not put love first. I have seen people motivated by anger and harshness but I have never seen anyone inspired by those actions. I have been both inspired and motivated by loved ones in my life.
Open up your eyes so you can see
Somehow my roses inspire me.
Find it so you can share it.
How can I inspire others through a sermon? I cannot. But we can delve into areas where you may find inspiration. It is a personal thing. I read and inspirational poem one day and am inspired by the thoughts. I read the same poem on another day and it does nothing for me. I really like a church service where there is uplifting music and singing before the service begins in any liturgy. I need to get into the right spirit and receptiveness. We are just wired so that our cognitive brain function can open or close our hearts. But we have the power within us to choose to open our hearts and seek inspiration in our day to day lives.
Here is one for thought. Sometimes my six year old needs attention. Sometimes it is reading a book or helping with homework or making sure he eats right. Now there are times when I just do it through motivation. There are other times that I am inspired to do things with him out of love for him. The difference in how we interact is like night and day. I can say the same for all family members and friends. Do I act out of and in love or do I just do the action because it must be done. One can be extremely gratifying and pleasurable. The other pure drudgery. And that difference can be felt by all those we interact with.
There are people who are just on fire with living and loving life. These people inspire me. So if I can do what it takes to be like that then I can inspire others. Love without sharing it is just about useless.
I suppose what much of this boils down to is looking for inspiration. Sometimes I just get in a funk and have no interest in looking for inspiration. I find myself just putting one foot in front of the other. There is an emptiness. It is a place where I must motivate myself to look for and be receptive for inspiration.
And now let us talk about the good news. God is always right there. Always available to us. Sometimes we set God aside and try to do it on our own. I do not and cannot know how God feels about that. But in my experience God does not abandon me because I abandon God. I like to think of it as coming home to a parent that just loves me even though I sometimes a screw up. A safe haven. And when I do that turn around and embrace God’s love things also turn around. Most often I find inspiration and my steps are lighter and I can find purpose.
My friends on this day and all others, I implore you to just look for inspiration. It is truly my belief that if you seek you shall find. And I hope that you do it not just for you but for those whose lives you touch. Please go out and inspire.