Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Hampshire, My HP Sermon Illustration, and Several Annoyances

So, I'm back in the swing of things after a nice weekend in New Hampshire. One of the highlights was taking a tour of of the Robert Frost Farm. We (including Sarah, TK, and Sawyer) had been there in the winter, but the actual farmhouse was closed. This time we got a tour of the farmhouse and some anecdotes to go along with it. One interesting one: Frost developed his linguistic style by eavesdropping on his neighbor's phone calls by picking up the phone (which was shared between 8 houses) even when it wasn't for him. When we got back on Friday night, Amy wanted to watch some TV via Netflix. She asked if I had any suggestions, and I recommended Parenthood. So, needless to say, by the end of the week we had finished the first season. I think I pretty much got them hooked. Sunday I did preach, and I think it went well. I thought I would include my HP reference for those who were interested. It's on the power of story in our lives. I've used it before at ResCov, so it may sound familiar to some:

And when talking about the power of story in our lives, the first story that came to this good pastor's mind to illustrate this point was the apocryphal Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  In the book, there are these evil creatures called dementors, who are spectre-like black-cloaked creatures that guard the wizard prison but also can cause severe damage to those they come into contact with.  As member of the Order of the Phoenix and one-time professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts Remus Lupin describes them, “They are the foulest creatures that walk this earth...they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them....Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.  It it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soulless and evil.”  Harry has several encounters with the dementors where he begins to lose hope, every good memory he has vanishes, and he is paralyzed within the hopelessness.  

However, there is also a spell that will dispell the dementors: expecto patronum.  Expecto patronum is a spell that casts a patronus, a burst of light that takes the form of an animal and protects you from dementors.  Yet, it’s not easy to produce.  As Lupin notes, “In order for [the spell] to work, you need to think of a memory, a very happy memory, a very powerful memory...allow it to fill you up...lose yourself in it and then speak the incantation, expecto patronum.”  Expecto patronum is actually latin for “I await a protector,” and the good memories serve as a shield and protector, they give hope and meaning once again in a world that seems meaningless. I think J.K. Rowling got it right on this one. Especially as Christians, our story becomes our protectors during times of hopelessness and despair. Negative memories paralyze and can only be combated with the deep, good, and powerful memories; it is the memory of the story we find ourselves in - the redemptive story that hinges on the life, death and resurrection of Christ - that becomes our protector, our patronus against those forces that would seek to draw us into despair."

One woman came up to me after the sermon and said, "Thank you for your sermon. I thought it was so interesting how you took even something like Harry Potter and made it fit." I managed to swallow my retort, which would have been something like, "EVEN Harry Potter? This is the order of reference for my sermons: a) Bible, b) hymns, c) Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia, d) biblical commentaries" (okay, okay, commentaries are usually second...).

You know what annoys me? When the baby-boomer and older generation says things like, "I heard that on my first album; you're probably not old enough to know what an album looks like!" or "We used to have rotary phones, but I'm dating myself. Kids these days wouldn't even know what to do with them!" I was reminded of that today while listening to NPR. The interviewee made the comment, "For those of you old enough to remember Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild...". Now, what person has not heard of the song, "Born to Be Wild?" Do they think that songs, inventions, or books magically cease to be a part of human existence once they are no longer contemporary? I mean, unless your Brendan Frasier's character in Blast from the Past or a feral child raised by wolves, you've probably run across such things as rotary phones, 45s, and "Born to be Wild," along with other pop hits from the last 50 years.

Things that only happen in New England: Today one of the older men at church (during choir practice) looked back and noted that I was flipping through flashcards. I told him I was studying Latin, to which he replied, "Isn't that a little late in the game? Shouldn't you have done that in high school?" The man next to him chimed in, "Yeah, I did it in middle school." In Northern Minnesota, you'd be lucky to have two languages to choose from at your high school, but Latin is definitely not one of them. I would be surprised if any school (at least public school) north of the Twin Cities had anything besides German, French, or Spanish - let alone Latin.

On Friday I'm picking up Joe Schupbach and heading out to Cape Cod (or, "the cape," as they call it) to his mom's (Kathy O'Donoghue's) house. She already has a great itinerary planned, and it will be my first time on the cape! Speaking of which, there is a sign near BU's campus that shows a beach with the words "Leave for Provincetown and arrive the same day" superimposed upon it. For me, this seems like a bizarre ad since Provincetown is only 2 hours away. If it said, "Leave for China and arrive the same day," that would be something to talk about. If you leave for Provincetown and don't arrive the same day, you're either walking there or have a major problem.

Well, I think I've done enough for one morning. Maybe I'll celebrate with a nap!

No comments:

Post a Comment