June 21, 2009
1 Samuel 18:1-5
“The Essence Of Worship: Reflecting Divine Diversity”
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just love this story of the relationship of Jonathan and David. I love
having it in scripture, and I love it being a part of the lectionary
text for today, knowing that it would be read in so many churches around
Jonathan loved David, of that we are sure. Where this love came from
within these two men’s hearts and souls and how it manifested itself is
not known. Were they comrades in arms, bound to each other by the
struggle and the loyalty of the battlefield, as is traditionally
portrayed? Perhaps. Were they lovers, bound by passions and an intimacy
known only to those who are “in love” with one another. Perhaps. Were
they soul mates, friends of the highest order, who knew one another like
the back of their own hand and could finish each other’s sentences?
Perhaps. Was the love or the friendship lopsided, unrequited, or
But what I like so very much about this story is that it is brought to
us in our worship. The stuff of our lives is text and texture of the
liturgy, the “work of the people,” brought into the sanctuaries, the
inner sanctums, the holy places. If worship really is going to be the
drama that we act out before God on the stage of eternity, then it not
only could, but should reflect the lives that we live, the lives that
God has put us in. The diversity of human life is, if we take seriously
the fact that we are the imago dei, the image of God, is, in fact the
diversity of God.
And so, on this Pride Sunday, the Sunday in which our lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and allied friends, family members, neighbors,
and coworkers celebrate the worth, dignity, and equality of all our
citizens, I would like to use the colors of the rainbow and the rainbow
flag to illustrate the diversity of God as seen in the diversity of
humanity. This great diversity is not simply meant to be celebrated out
in a parade along Lakeside Avenue nor at a festival at Voinovich Park,
but here, in the sanctuary of Franklin Circle Christian Church.
Red is the traditional color of love and passion, and in honor of the
love that bound Jonathan and David, we celebrate the passions of our
lives. We bring to worship all our loves, fulfilled and unfulfilled,
dreamt of and lived out in body, mind, heart, and spirit. We offer to
God all that stirs us to the deepest emotions of commitment, loyalty,
sacrifice, and compassion.
For our love can and should be a reflection of God’s love, offered to us
at the dawn of creation, steadily undergirding us through thick and
thin, and which will be present long after we walk this earth. Red…
Orange is the color of caution, concern, and warning. We bring to
worship our understanding that all we do is not good and worthy, but
never outside the bounds of the divine. We offer to God both our need to
be advised, counseled, and even reprimanded, as well as our call to, in
the love of Christ, call to accountability our sisters and brothers.
For our caution reflects the caution of God. From the first warning of
the effects of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
throughout scriptures and into our present moment, God is well aware
that the freedoms given to the first peoples is a freedom that can be
abused as well as used well. Orange… Caution.
Yellow is the color of unabashed, bold, joy. We bring to worship our
joys, our delights, our happiness, and even our bliss. We offer to God
all those things, places, circumstances, and people that make us laugh,
that give us hope, that bring us back to life, that satisfies us and
For our joy surely reflects God’s joy! We were created to give our maker
delight and happiness, and God has placed so much in creation, both for
us to enjoy as well as for God to take pleasure in, that we dare not
miss experiencing it. Yellow… Joy.
Green is the color of growth, nurture, new life, and possibilities. We
bring to worship all the chances to develop our skills and our
knowledge, whether we learn from life and get street-smart,
life-lessons, on-the-job training or we are learning from institutions
of education or intentional places of learning, including workshops,
conferences and camps. We offer to God all the teachers, students,
resources, opportunities, and moments of growing and becoming all the
God longs for us to be.
For our growth reflects a God who is growing. Even as God is perfect,
God is always seeking greater perfection. Even as God is good, God is
striving for greater goodness. Even as God is all knowing, God
understands more and more each day of the wonder of creation and
possibilities of existence Green… Growth.
Blue is the color of sorrow, sadness, mourning, and loss, for those
people and possibilities that were, those that came and went, as well as
for those that never came to be. We bring to worship our greatest fears
and failures, our most profound sorrow and despair; our grief, our
distress, our misery, our anguish, our depression, and our hopelessnes.
We offer to God that which surpasses understanding, and often is too
profound for words, knowing that the heart of the divine has been broken
before we ever express our sorrow.
For our sorrow reflects a God who is intensely in touch with the
brokeness of the creation and is more keenly aware than we will ever
know of promises broken, prospects missed, and people who are gone
forever. Blue… sorrow.
Indigo is the color of discernment, like the ink in the pen, writing
down our thoughts, our ideas, our ponderings. We bring to worship our
deepest thoughts – sometimes known and oftentimes underneath our
awareness. We ofer to God our unfinished lives and decisions, yearning
for insight, assistance, greater intuition, and deeper perception
whether they come from within our own minds or souls, from above and the
sacredness around us, or from others, colleagues, friends, and family
members whose advice and counsel are trusted and treasured.
For our discernment reflects a God who is keenly aware of the mysteries
of life, and the beauty of ideas that develop, inspiration that dawns,
possibilities that emerge, or plans that change. Indigo… discernment.
Violet is the color of maturity, wisdom that comes from living life
fully and completely, an aging that is more than just wrinkles and
forgetfulness, but of a completely different way of being in the world.
We bring to worship our lives, whether shorter than a breath or longer
than a century, it is the stuff of which God created us, and is filled
with beauty in its pain as well as its potential, its learnings from
what was and from what never came to pass. We offer to God each passing
day, seeking not to regret our aging, but to marvel at its slow and
steady pace or it speedy and fleeting nature.
For our maturity reflects God’s maturity, the ancient of days, the sage
of eternity, the wisdom of all time. Our God is both fresh and new every
day, as a baby born this moment, and is as old as the hills, who knew
time before there was time. Violet… maturity.
This is what we bring to worship, and it is as diverse and rich as are
we… and as is God. Passion… Caution… Joy… Growth… Sorrow… Discernment…
Maturity. If we cannot bring this, the stuff of our lives, the materials
of creation, to the holy places in our lives, whether they be here in
this sanctuary or beyond, then where can we bring it?
No, you are invited to gather it all and share it here. And the shape of
worship, the very design of our liturgy, should support this diversity,
this variety. Just as scripture felt safe enough to offer up in the
pages of our sacred text a love which surpassed other loves known, a
love which all-too-often “dared not speak it’s name,” I promise to you
that we, the worship leaders, worship staff, and worship designers will
ensure that the entire spectrum of the rainbow of this congregation,
this community, indeed, all of creation, has a place here. For God’s
diversity is our diversity.
May it be so.
Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
Copyright 2009 -- The Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
1688 Fulton Rd., Cleveland, OH 44113-3096