Seen and Heard



Sermon Title “Seen and Heard” by Pastor Rosanna McFadden

Good morning!  This is the day that we remember and rejoice because of what we have seen and heard about the resurrection of Jesus. He died and went to his Father, and now that gift of life is revealed to us.  We have seen and heard the Easter story so that we can tell others what we have seen and heard, so that His joy may be in us. Holy Humor Sunday is a celebration that with the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of eternal life, our joy has been made complete.  Especially during this Easter season, Christians don’t have to take themselves too seriously.  The capacity to laugh at ourselves is a sign of both humility and generosity.  Self-righteous people can’t laugh at themselves, insecure people can’t laugh at themselves; but folks who are relaxed about themselves and confident in their identity can laugh at themselves and laugh along with others.  The truth is, we’re all a little bit ridiculous some of the time — this is a good thing to acknowledge and take lightly for ourselves and others.

The good news about Holy Humor is that there is a lot of comedic material out there about religion.  The bad news is that almost none of it is appropriate for the pulpit on a Sunday morning.  Previously, I have presented The First Baseball Game, cleaned up from Dan St. James’ sketch on the Bob & Tom radio show.  It’s April, and we’ve had opening day for baseball, but with apologies to fans of America’s pastime, there is another game in town.  I know a lot of you have been following the men’s and the women’s NCAA basketball tournaments and the Big Dance.  I’ve been watching so much basketball, I figured I’d better turn it into a sermon.  So using my awesome biblical scholarship abilities, I have been combing the Good Book for basketball references so I can update you on Bible Basketball.  I want to share what I’ve found. You might be surprised.

You have to go back fourteen generations from Jesus — the guy who re-wrote all the record books — to get back to the beginning.  These were the days of the old Testament League, Before Big M. the Messiah, even played the game.  The big match-up in those days was between the Prophets and the Kings.  A guy named Saul was the first player drafted by the Kings.  He was tall and handsome; a crowd favorite.  But Samuel, a long-time guard for the Prophets, had other ideas.  He had word from the management upstairs that the Kings could do better; and Samuel went looking in the transfer portal to see if he could find someone to play Saul’s position on the Kings.

Samuel went on a recruiting trip to the little town of Bethlehem, and found a guy in Bethlehem named Jesse who had a whole roster of strapping sons, Eliab, Abinadab, Shimea, Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem  But only the youngest had a name that anyone could pronounce or would want to put on the back of a jersey.  The kid’s name was David.  David had done some shooting around on his own, but strictly rec league — lions and bears.  But he showed a lot of promise; David was a player, well, mostly on the harp, but that was about to change.  Samuel thought David had the right stuff and anointed him in hopes that he’d commit to play for the Kings someday.

The kid got his big break when the Kings were in a tough match with the Phillies — that’s the Philistines for those of you who don’t remember the old Testament League.  The Phillies had a big man, Goliath, who was giving the Kings all kinds of trouble in the center — out on the sides, too.  All over, really. The Kings had no answer for Goliath.  David’s older brothers were playing for the Kings, but they couldn’t drive and they couldn’t defend and they were losing badly.  That is, until David came to training camp. The Kings went deep into their bench and David was called up. He wasn’t big, but he was a great shooter, and he really knew how to handle the rock.  After some trash talking with Goliath, David drove, stopped, and slung a shot from distance; way outside the arc.  The shot was dead on and David pulled a giant upset.  The crowd went crazy!

David went on to play In Saul’s court.  Saul was jealous of the kid and they had a falling out, but David went on to become one of the greatest Kings who played the game. Even though he got schooled by Nathan from the Prophets, David went into the old Testament League Hall of Fame.  David’s son Solomon also played for the Kings, but there was so much in-fighting that the franchise went out of business.  The Prophets continued to operate in the old Testament for a while, but they never drew the same crowds as the Kings.  The Prophets’ motto “The end is near” never seemed to fire up the crowds — they took desperate shots on every trip down the court.

So, fourteen seasons later in the new Testament League, Jesus, the Big Messiah, came on the scene.  He was kind of a throw-back to those glory days.  He had a style of play like the Prophets — tough, street smart, go hard to the end — but he was also a crowd favorite, like his forerunners, the Kings.  He got into the game through his cousin John.  Folks came from miles around to watch John.  They called him John the Baptizer because man, that kid could dunk.  The Prophets would have loved this kid.

But Big M was playing a bigger game.  After he won a pick-up game with Satan in the wilderness, he had a fast-break and he needed a posse.  He found them by the Sea of Galilee — Simon and the sons of thunder, James and John.  Big M noticed when these guys went out, they got nothing but net.  Every time.  Problem was, they weren’t hooping, they were fishing and nothing but net was kind of a problem.  So Big M told them to leave their boats and he would teach them a new game; they’d be playing for people.  And it worked!  They started drawing huge crowds — even on the days when the loaves and fish concessions ran out, with Big M, these guys could make something out of nothing.  They went from being “nothing but net” losers, to believing they could win it all.

That all changed when they got into the Big Dance.  They were calling themselves the Disciples by then, but everybody knew it was Big M’s squad.  They ran into a mean bunch called the Pharisees.  The Pharisees decided Big M was too full of himself, acting like he was God’s gift to the game, and they decided to take him down.  They had the Roman management behind them — everyone was worried about what Big M might do.  The semi-final game of the tournament was terrible.  The Disciples had a last team meal, and Big M told them that he would lay it all on the line for them.  And then the Disciples turned on him.  In the middle of the game Big M was driving into the paint for lay-up, and Simon Peter swatted it away; Big M went up for a jumper and Peter blocked it; finally he drove in on the weak side, and Peter shut it down.  Peter denied Jesus three times.  His own teammate.  It was terrible.  Big M ended up trapped in the Pharisee’s court.  There were flagrant fouls.  The crowd packed up and went home. It wasn’t a hoop he was hanging on at the end.  It looked like Jesus was done, out of the tournament.  Go big or go home.

But that was the semi-final.  There was one more game to go. The Pharisees thought they had won, but they had no idea what Jesus was capable of.  The real match happened three days later, and a lot can happen in three days.  The Pharisees put Big M in a tomb cut out of rock — like a cave.  They rolled a big stone across the entrance, so instead of Big M protecting the rock, the rock was protecting him.  Everyone thought he was done, finished, dead.  But Big M didn’t quit that easy.  He had come to do a job and he was going to do it.  He took on the opponent that everyone else was too scared to even mention — Death.  Jesus vs. Death was the final round of the Big Dance.  Big M pulled the biggest upset of all time; the Cinderella story that nobody saw coming: Jesus beat Death. In triple overtime.  He didn’t have the Disciples’ help, he did it himself.  The GOAT put the whole world on his shoulders and got it done, and Death has never been the same.  Only taxes are a sure thing now.  And that big rock?  It was rolled away, and Big M is back out there, doing what he does best — helping others play the game.  The Big Dance will never be the same.  Some writers are even saying the glory days might be coming back; Big M might be out on the court again someday, playing for the Kings.  That’s the basketball report.  May God’s joy be in us, and through our resurrected Lord, may our joy be complete.  Amen.