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Series: Naked Spirituality: Sorry

Speaker: Jay Dee Conrad

Title: Naked Spirituality: Sorry

Series: Special

Date: 2012-07-08 09:00:00

Pastor: Jay Dee Conrad

Runtime: 9:49


hide and seek. Of all the games I played as a small child, Hide and Seek stands out the most. I remember it best, and I liked it best. We usually played it in the yard of our home. Like many farm homes, we had a very large yard with lots of trees and bushes for hiding. And sometimes on rainy days, we played it in the barn. And on summer evenings, we would play it in town on our bicycles around the county courthouse. Those days we lived in Pontiac, Illinois, hide and seek. There was a time in the game when the person who is it gives up finding everybody and calls out Olly olly oxen all in free. Or at least that’s what we said. Apparently, there are textual bearer variations of that key phrase. My wife, Andrea remembers it as Olly olly oxen free, which makes no sense whatsoever.

I’ll say that at this service, but not the second service. Another I read of in my serious semantical study of this phrase remembers it as Olly olly oxen free, free free. And further in my research, I found that perhaps the closest to the original text is Ali Ali, out are in free. Do any of you remember it in any of those ways? We all have our own way of remembering it. I’m sure in any case, no matter how it was said that phrase was the point of the game. That point when if you were still hiding, and had not yet been found, you could return to home base without being caught. Olly olly oxen all in free.

That is the essence of our word for the day, sorry.

That is the heart of Christianity the game is over. There is no more hiding. We are home free that in Jesus Christ. God invites us back to home base. In the Hebrew Scriptures in the book of Isaiah, the prophet rights of God truly you are a God who hides himself, oh God of Israel. And there is a sense in which throughout history God has played hide and seek with us. At Bethlehem, God was disguised, hiding in a manger. Jesus was hid from his own family, they misunderstood him. His neighbors in his hometown turned on him. Even those called the disciples were never clear who Jesus was or what he was about. And at his death, God’s splendor was hid on a cross. There is an old Jewish Hasidic story that tells of the son of a rabbi who one day came running and crying to his father. And between his huge sobs He said, Father, I’ve been playing hide and seek with my friends, and it came my turn to hide. But after I found a good place, I sat in the woods for hours, waiting for others to find me. But no one came.

I learned later they had all tired of the game and simply stopped playing. They never told me no one ever yelled into the woods telling me to come out. No one ever yelled. Olly olly oxen all in free. They just left me alone. And his father, the rabbi put his put his arms around the child and held him close and he said, My son, that is the way it is with God to. God is always hiding, eager for the people to come looking for him, but no one wants to play. God is always alone, waiting to be found. hoping someone will come? Or the one who did come was Jesus. Jesus, who in John’s Gospel says, You are my friends, I do not call you servants any longer. Instead, I call you friends. With Jesus, there is a new intimacy with God. No longer do we see God from afar. No longer are there any off limits in approaching God. God knows us by name. The Gospels tell us that figuratively God even numbers, the hairs of our head, a much easier job for most of you rather than for me. Evangelists, Tony Campolo, once compared God to an old Jewish grandmother. He said God’s got a wallet with your picture in it. Well, there are enough grandmothers and grandfathers in this congregation to know that that is an apt description of God, a God who carries Your and my picture in her wallet.

A God who loves, a God who cares. A God who reaches out. And a God who calls out to each and every one of us Olly olly oxen all in free. Our word for today is sorry. And that’s what this message is all about. As the prayer of sorry, says in the bulletin. I’m sorry, Lord for an action or for an attitude for a flaw or a failure. You fill in the blanks. Have mercy on me, gracious God. Gracious God, the grace of God. No one says it better than Paul, in his letter to the Roman says Jenny, read it to us. God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ.

Let me tell you this is one of the very few instances where I think the better translation is that of the King James. The righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ unto us. That is we are made right with God because of the Mercy of Jesus Christ. We find unity with God because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We find ultimate peace because of the grace of Jesus Christ. We have new life because it is God who takes the initiative. It is God who says Olly olly oxen all in free. And we come out from behind every bush and every tree and every rock and we run safely home into God’s outstretched arms. When we are sorry, even before we are sorry, God and Christ calls us home for free there is no penalty.

Hide and seek. We all played it in one form or another when we were in Guatemala. The teenage granddaughters who are with us played a form of it. They played it as blind man’s buff was the Guatemalan children. And all of those watermelon children knew that game. Now sometimes when I played it as a child, when the seeker was hiding his or her eyes and counting to 100, which you had to do, I would run away and make a lot of noise as I scurried off. But then I would try and sneak back very quietly, as quiet as I could. So that as soon as he finished counting and yelled out Ready or not, here I come. I could touch the tree and say home free I think that’s the way God is quietly slipping back across the lawn of our lives. Hardly daring to breathe so that as soon as we open our eyes and begin the search, God is already there. Olly olly oxen all in free. The game is over and we are home.


Listen to the Audio from July 8, 2012