This Week’s Sermon – Renovating Crestwood

SCRIPTURE – 2 Kings 22:1-13; 23:1-3 –

 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lordand followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphanson of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it.Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant,which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillarand renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

SERMON
Renovating Crestwood
2 Kings 22:1-13; 23:1-3
May 31, 2015

As I sat down this past week to work on the worship service, I got a little panicky. We are trying to cram a lot of God into a small amount of time! A baby dedication, two baptisms, a ministerial candidate, not to mention our regular things like Children’s Time and the choir anthem. A fearful and bone-rattling thought occurred to me: what if there’s no room for the sermon? Anyone else here worried about that? No? Just me? Ok. I thought to myself, “There’s so much good stuff going on, we’re in the middle of a capital campaign, I’ve got to say…something!

But then I got to thinking, “Do I?” We’re talking about renovating and expanding our Children’s Wing, so what better witness to that need then a chancel overflowing with kids during Children’s Time, the celebration of a child’s life through a dedication, and the joy of having two young people give their lives to Christ through baptism? Those blessed events, more than anything I can say, testify to the way God’s spirit is moving in Crestwood and our need to grow in order to make room for welcoming in the people who are coming here. Those things speak for themselves. But just so I don’t disappoint my mom, who listens to the sermon on our website…I’m still gonna say little something.

You know, we’re not the first church to contemplate a renovation. In our reading from 2 Kings, King Josiah looked at the crumbling stone and peeling paint of the temple in Jerusalem and said, “This place needs an overhaul.” Fair enough. The temple was built in 950 BCE, which means it’s over 300 years old in our passage today. I’m sure you’d agree with me that building can use a good going-over every three centuries or so. So Josiah sends a message to Shaphan, the royal secretary, to gathering the offering from the temple and hire some workers to start the renovation.

Let me pause here a second to ask this: Did you get all those names? Because there’s gonna be a quiz. When I chose this passage to read today, I didn’t take into account ALL the names that would be part of it. That’s not easy to read. Then I had the most brilliant idea: Let’s make Trish read it! What better test of her ministerial abilities than reading about Meshullam and Hilkiah? But I like her a lot, so I couldn’t do that to her.

It’s easy to gloss over those names, isn’t it? People we never knew that don’t really matter to us. But before our eyes glaze over, let me propose that it’s those names on which the foundation of the temple is built, people who worked hard and served faithfully during their time here on earth. There’s a plaque outside the sanctuary with a bunch of names on it. Those are the charter members of this church. Some of the names you may recognize: Mr. and Mrs. Ben Cowgill; Mr. James Havens; Mr. and Mrs. W. Warren Rogers; Mr. and Mrs. Jason Taylor.

But then there are other names that are probably only remembered by a scant few. Mr. and Mrs. Carl Womack; Mr. and Mrs. John Oldham. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Dillehay. They are the Meshullams and Hilkiahs of Crestwood, the people on whose shoulders we stand as we look toward the future. They did their part to build this church, and in our capital campaign we are called to do the same, to ensure the future of this congregation, which may look back someday and remember has as part of those foundation builders.

While Josiah’s people are renovating the temple, they come across something interesting. “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord,” says Hilkiah. The Book of the Law was probably one of the first five books of our Bible, maybe Leviticus or Deuteronomy, which had gotten lost in the temple when it was allowed to fall into disrepair by some of Josiah’s unfaithful predecessors. To put this in modern terms, some workers are renovating a church and, underneath a bunch of musty rugs and old Sunday School curriculum, they find…a Bible! What’s that thing doing here? Can you imagine losing a Bible in church?

Have we lost the Bible, Crestwood? I don’t believe so. In fact, I think we’re following God’s leading in the Bible by making room to care for our babies, educate our children, and make a joyful noise to the Lord. No, I don’t think we at Crestwood have lost our Bibles. In fact, I think we’re doing our best to follow them faithfully, as God calls us to welcome people, to invite their questions, to help them take the next step on their faith journey. Our renovated and expanded South Wing will help us do that, being faithful to our mission and vision as we serve God boldly and faithfully. And I believe this project has the potential to illicit the same response from us as the renovation of the temple did from Israelites. Chapter 23 tells us, “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.”

The dictionary defines the word “renovate” as “to renew, to reinvigorate, to refresh.” Josiah and the Israelites thought they were renewing a building. You know, some new bricks and mortar, a fresh coat of paint. But in the process of renewing a building, they also renewed their faith, they renewed their call, they renewed their purpose as God’s people. They pledged themselves anew to the mission and vision God had placed before them. The recommitted themselves to following the Lord. As you contemplate and pray about your participation in this capital campaign, as you think about what gift you’ll give to help make this happen, please remember this: It’s because of the Cowgills and the Taylors and the Womacks and the Dillehays that we are here today. And there are people out there, people we don’t know, people not even born yet, who will be able to say one day that they are here at Crestwood, enjoying our amazing Children’s Wing, because of people like you and me. It’s not just a building that’s being renovated. It’s this entire congregation, as we step boldly in faith into the future. Our Children’s Wing was built in 1961, and has been the place of life-changing moments ever since. And now, we need more room to change more lives. Let’s join together, Crestwood, and provide that room. It’s not just a building we’re renovating.

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