May 1, 2022, “Look!” by Rev. Dr. Tom Eggebeen
Psalm 30; John 21.1-19
Stop … Look … Listen …
Three pieces of good advice … in their proper place, for the right time.
There are times to stop, like a red light.
And times to Go, when it’s green.
Apparently some folks have difficulty figuring that one out.
There are times to look, to look carefully at something … a piece of art at the Norton Simon … an attractive add for a new car.
And maybe there are times when we shouldn’t look, when we should look away, or close our eyes … like an attractive add for a new car.
And of course, the landmine of all marriage landmines: If Donna asks me, “How does this dress look on me?”
Diplomacy is crucial.
I say to myself, “Careful Tommy Boy, be careful!”
Donna will sometimes say to me, “Listen” – to get my attention, because I have selective hearing … most husbands have the affliction, and most wives know all about it.
Yes, there are times to listen,.
Sometimes we need to not listen … we need to turn down the volume … shut off the news, take a break … go on a walk, read some poetry, clear the mind, refresh the spirit … escape the noise of daily life, choose the quiet of a safe place, put the building blocks back together again.
Stop … Look … Listen …
Last week, we took a stop … “stop in the name of love” – to regain our balance, reset our priorities … we stopped over a piece of Scripture about “the Jews” … how the church really messed up on that one … messed up for a few thousand years, and what with anti-Semitism on the rise these days, we all need to stop, stop in the name of love, and do what we can to stop the harm, stop the violence, stop the language of fear and slander … learn anew how to read the Bible, how to interpret the Christian tradition, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how to live the love of Christ.
There are times when we have to stop, and “think it over.”
This week, to Look!
My granddaughter isn’t afraid of bugs … she’ll have a bug in hand, and carefully watch it … turning her hand over as the little bug crawls along … who knows what the little bug is thinking, but I know what my granddaughter is thinking – amazement, full of wonder, delight, interest, joy, curiosity.
I remember a young boy, by the name of Garth … I had an 18 foot canoe, and another fellow and I took Garth with us for a day of fishing on Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania … I was minister at Third Presbyterian Church, Altoona … in a tough neighborhood … plenty of poverty in this once booming railroad town … kids missing out on the good things of life.
So, we took Garth along … he had never been in a canoe … I don’t recall if he had ever been fishing, but this much I remember, he was absolutely wide-eyed with everything, from getting the canoe on top my van, to taking it off when we arrived … and shoving off, paddling to a few choice spots for fishing.
I remember, showing him how to bait the hook with a worm, set the bobber, and cast out the line … we had given him his own rod and reel … he had a wonderful time … and I’ll never forget, no, I’ll never forget, how wide were his eyes … taking it all in … sheer delight, the joy of a child.
To this very day, I remind myself to have eyes wide open … to look, to really look, at the world around me, the people I love, and those who love me … the glory of the morning sun, the bright blue of noontime … the grey clouds of June Gloom … a flight of raucous Pasadena Parrots … roses in full bloom … the yellow Ferrari next to me.
To pay attention to the things of this world – what God has created … what we’ve created!
It’s pays to look.
But I want to push the word “look” … push it for greater meaning.
Sherlock Holmes, the famed fictional detective, said, “I see where others only look.”
A friend born blind … a musician … a husband, a father, a servant of the Lord … often says, “I can see things no one else can see!”
Which is to say, “seeing” is more than looking … looking needs an eye, but seeing requires a soul.
We look at our church … we admire the tower, the beauty of
our windows, a breathtaking design, a thousand things to
catch our attention and invite our admiration …
This building is a glorious creation – we give thanks to God Almighty for those who came this way, to build on Lake Avenue an inspiring example of French Gothic architecture, to the glory of God … a reminder of how creative and ingenious we are … because we are creators, just like the Creator God, who made us, endowed us with the ability to dream, gave us the power to build.
This building is a monument, a monument with a message. We look at the monument with our eyes, and we see the message with our soul.
The message of hope and peace … reconciliation and mercy.
God is God, and in God, and by God, and with God, our humanity is completed …
None of this easy … all of it’s complicated, complicated by the realities of the day – personal issues, needs, hurts, sorrows, fears, regrets … and the world out there: global warming, draught across the West, war in Ukraine, “stop the steal,” outlandish behavior in the halls of government – this is our world, this is our moment … and none of it’s easy.
More than ever, what the world needs now are people well-focused, people well-ordered … people centered in the deepest values of humanity, reaching for the highest dreams of heaven …
Look heavenward dear people of Pasadena, Altadena, Flintridge and Glendale, and the good folks on YouTube – wherever you are … look heavenward … look beyond the material … to see the love of God …
The Psalmist says: O LORD … you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy …
On that ancient beach in faraway Galilee, a stranger grilled fish on a charcoal fire … when the disciples looked, they could see – the stranger on the beach was none other than Christ himself.
To look is one thing … to see is another.
I think of Pete Seeger’s song:
I can see a new day
A new day soon to be
When the storm clouds are all passed
And the sun shines on a world that is free.
Dear Friends, on this fine day in Pasadena, right here, right now, we can look with our eyes … we can see with our soul:
A new day soon to be. Amen and Amen!