Fairhaven Sermon 6-9-2024

Fairhaven Sermon 6-9-2024
Fairhaven Sermon 6 9 2024

In this week's sermon Cindy Seifert explores the theme of leadership through the lens of biblical and contemporary examples. She begins by highlighting the various forms of leadership we encounter in our families, churches, businesses, and government. Drawing from the books of Samuel, she illustrates how leaders who focus on serving God flourish, while those who seek their own gain falter. The Israelites' demand for a king, despite God's warning about the consequences, serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of divine guidance and the pitfalls of earthly leadership.

Cindy then connects these biblical lessons to the modern political landscape, particularly the upcoming U.S. presidential election. She expresses concern about the overwhelming influx of political information and misinformation, urging the congregation to pray for discernment. She underscores the role of spiritual guidance in leadership, citing Billy Graham's influence on U.S. presidents as a positive example. Seifert emphasizes that while earthly leaders are fallible, continual prayer and seeking God's will are crucial for electing leaders who can guide the nation according to divine principles.


Good morning. For those of you who may not know me, I'm Cindy Seifert and I am a member of Spencer Methodist Church up the street, one whole mile. So I'm here this morning to join you and hopefully bring you some things to think about this coming week. I'd like to reflect this morning on leadership.

Now leadership comes in many forms, as we know. Leaders come in our families, whether it's a paternal leadership or maternal leadership, there's always someone in the family who forms us and moves us forward and keeps us all together. And likewise, we have many leaders in our churches who have just met this past week to lay out plans for the coming year. There are leaders in business and leaders in government.

Now the books of Samuel 1 and 2 provide good and bad examples of leadership, and I suggest you go back and read those at some point this week. But what we find is when leaders focused their attention on the Lord and saw their leadership roles as instruments of His glory, things worked out well and they flourished. However, when they abandoned the Lord and used their offices for their own gain, they failed. The lives of Eli, his sons, Samuel, Saul, and David consistently illustrate these principles.

And as Pegg spoke of last week, God provided the people of Israel a prophet and good spiritual leadership through Samuel. This period after the conquest of the promised land under Joshua, the book of Judges explains that this period was a time of social and religious anarchy. Everyone whatever did, whatever they seemed right to them in their ways of following God or perhaps not. And God's commandments, if they are abandoned, and if we pursue idols of our own imaginations, the result will be moral and spiritual chaos.

And only by the gracious intervention of God over and over again did the Israelites emerge as a people and a nation distinguishable in lifestyle and beliefs from the surrounding pagan groups. Now to review today's scripture, it tells us that the elders gathered went to Ramah to see Samuel. He was their prophet and their leader in that day. Now they had respect for his leadership, but knew he was growing old and his time was diminishing.

And they also knew that his sons did not follow in his ways. Therefore, they said, Give them a king to rule over them. And they wanted to be like the surrounding pagan nations. That is not what God had intended for them.

But he said, Give them a king to rule over them. Samuel again was troubled by that demand, but he sought out God's wisdom through prayer. God wanted the people of Israel to rely on him and only him as a true king of the universe. But again, he said, Give them what they want.

But there are consequences to your decision. What were those consequences? A king would take their sons for his service, whether that was military or to plow his lands and reap his harvest. Others he would use to make weapons of war. He'll take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

He will take your best fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take 10% of your grain and vintage. He will take your servants and livestock for his own use. You will cry out to God for relief, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.

Sounds a lot like taxes, doesn't it? 10% will take what you have and will use it. But even after this warning and prophecy of what was to come, the people still wanted a king. They wanted what they wanted. So how was this king chosen? What's left out of this reading is in between chapters 9 and 11.

And I think it's important that you hear about how this king was chosen. Samuel had an encounter with Saul. And when they met, the Spirit of God came upon Saul and he began to prophesize with Samuel. Now Samuel told all of the tribes of Israel to come before him.

So the tribe of Benjamin was selected. And within that tribe were clans. And when the clans were presented, the clan of Mitriah was selected. Please excuse my pronunciation if that's not correct.

Finally, Saul, who stood ahead above everyone else, was selected. He was asked to come forward. Samuel said to the people, Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population. And all the people shouted, Long live the king! Now the Ammonites led siege to Jabez Gilead.

And Saul led a battle against them and proved his leadership by God. And Samuel said to the people, Let's go to Gilgal so we can renew the kingship there. They did make peace offerings in the Lord's presence. And Saul and all of the men of Israel rejoiced.

That is how they chose their king. So as I was reading these passages this week, I immediately saw the tie-in to our current times. How America is coming up upon another presidential election this year. And honestly, the thoughts of the political parties vying for our votes makes me want to find a nice dark cave and go hide in it for the next year.

The number of political ads, campaigns, debates, and tactics will overwhelm our TVs, our news sources, and our social media. I honestly don't know how much of it I can take this time around. It's going to be ugly. And the problem in this day and age is the vast amount of information and misinformation we are fed.

How do we determine what is true? How do we determine if our leaders are serving God or themselves? In doing some research on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, I found that the late Billy Graham met with every US president from World War II through President Obama. He was closest to Lyndon Johnson. They shared a deep friendship and a deep spiritual connection, which I found very interesting to hear. But he was a friend, a prayer warrior, and support to all of those presidents.

And as Billy Graham was growing old, President Obama visited him in his mountain home in Montreat, North Carolina. They shared an afternoon of conversation and prayer. Now President Trump is the only one who only met him at his 95th birthday party. He did not have that special audience with Mr.

Graham. But Billy Graham consistently brought the word of God, prayer, and guidance to our leaders. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that Billy Graham is one of the best ambassadors our country ever had, and actually offered him that position.

But Billy Graham said, I am an ambassador of heaven. And he chose to keep that position. I also read in the Journal of Media and Religion that the president of the US is often looked at as a barometer of public morality. Another scholar argues that the president, as a moral leader, is expected to embody and articulate our national values.

Another states that the president also fulfills a symbolic role as the nation's prophet, priest, and king. These quotes were given between the years of 1976 and 2002. They're maybe a little dated. Now I can live with those first two quotes, that yes, the president should be regarded with respect, and the president must respect the office to represent the national values.

However, the last quote gave me some pause. If the president is seen as a prophet, a priest, or a king, it's God blessing him. Even Saul, who was selected by God as the first king of Israel, had great trials placed before him. Jealousy and madness eventually led him to try and kill David.

The problem of kings, presidents, and leaders on earth is that they are mortals. Who is guiding our president spiritually? I read on a site called RNS News and on the White House fact sheet from February of '21 that President Biden has an interfaith fixed advisory council under the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was originally established in the year 2000 by President G.W.

Bush. Its purpose is to engage with organizations of multiple faiths to work through the COVID crisis and those economic repercussions, to combat racism, to advance international development and global humanitarian efforts, strengthen pluralism, and respect constitutional guarantees. President Biden relies on his Catholic faith and the advice of Sister Simone Campbell, whom he is very close with. He attends mass regularly.

It gave me some comfort to know that the president is seeking guidance from God to lead the country. And so I will tell you this, the mortals we will select in November need to be thoughtfully and prayerfully elected. How often do we pray for discernment before we vote? Do we pray continually and listen for God to answer our prayers? Does he guide us to the correct leaders? I propose that as this election heats up, each time you hear an ad, pray. Each time you listen to a debate, pray.

Our nation and our leaders need God's law to guide them. And so if we go to the Gospel of Mark, even Jesus, son of God, had problems with the Jewish priests, Roman authorities, and even his family. And as we read, his parable at that time was that you can't have a house divided against itself. It will fall.

And even his family found him troublesome, dare I say even crazy. When told his family wanted him to come to them and they would pull him out of those discussions at the temple, he asked, Who is my family? He counted among his family all who believed in him and followed God's ways. Now as a mother, that passage has always troubled me a little bit because I wondered if Mary and his brothers and his sisters were a little hurt by those words. Mary knew he was God's son and understood his mission, and yet did she feel a little left out in that moment? So as I think of the months and years to come, the good news for all of us comes from 2 Corinthians 4, 13 through 5.

  1. We're told not to lose heart. Outwardly, we and our country and our nation and our world may be wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. Our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs those troubles.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. And if this earthly tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. And from the confidence of David's psalm, we know that God's love endures forever. He will never forsake the work of his hands.

So take heart. Pray for our leaders on earth so that we may be led to do good for all people and know that our final reward is in heaven. Amen.