I never got to the sermon yesterday. Tried. But failed. Not even a blur. Not sure why.
Have been reading David Brooks’ “The Road To Character.” I am more a scribe than one with authority, but if I could I would require every person, ordained or not, to read this book. Am almost finished but I doubt fully it will ever finish with me. Amazing how he describes life today by looking at St. Augustine in the 5th century and President Eisenhower in the 20th. How each of them was not pure as the driven snow. Yet, how each of them perhaps could be middle-named “Phoenix,” rising from heaps of awkwardness. More honestly, from disarray.
The trigger point yesterday was the Old Testament reading…most of us know it…but are incredibly tilted to never regard it. The saga of David when he didn’t have a sling shot. Rather when seeing Bathsheba bathing on the roof lust took over; scheming ruled the day. Bathsheba became pregnant, David schemed for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to be in war and be dead…dead as stone.
When hearing about David from II Samuel yesterday during worship…thought of Bill Cosby…and remembered. How I have so highly regarded him, taking in a very special moment. Was fall of 1964 [then I considered fall a time of year and not a theological condition]. Went with students from Southern Illinois University—about 5 of them—who were in a class I taught at the university on minor prophets. Went to hear Nancy Wilson, who in those days took my breath…she was more than impressive. Before her time to sing the auditorium announcer said something like this, “Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together. For now I introduce to you a comedian. This is his first public appearance. Welcome…..” He then paused, but not as if we held our breaths…and declared as if the dawn of joy and gladness had just arrived, “BILL COSBY.”
He was good. I smiled. Then laughed. Said something about Noah and who knows the length of a cubit. Something about playing baseball in the streets with the fire plug some base—think it was third. And for years, yes years, I shared that moment…that I was there. To hear him. Might even have pushed self-congratulatory.
And smash. How that changed. A David posing as a comedian. Read about the New Yorker who has a 13 page article with pictures of over 20 women who were… Well, you now know about it.
As the denigrating story of David was read yesterday…my mind went to Brooks’ book, to today’s Yahoo article, to seeing Cosby for the first…and now with gratitude, the only time.
Then read Tom Ehrich this morning…who takes on David and brings each of us into it…about how for so many [Can any of us throw the first stone?] of us are known more for betrayal and ingratitude. But that doesn’t have to rule the day. It doesn’t.
And I think about Bill Coffin who once said, “It shouldn’t be we are pure as the driven snow; no, it should be we are pure as the driven slush.”
Then another thought, from Reinhold Niebuhr who said, “The purpose of life is to will one thing: to love God and neighbor as fully as you can. Jesus. He’s the focus of our purposed life journey. For Jesus is the primary revelation of God’s love and will.”
So it is. Monday morning. Dogs walked. Coffee made. And the question: How can we be known for honesty and gratitude…not that we are perfect. But. To know we are forgiven and are more snow than slush?