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Edward F. Markquart

Series C
You Are My Delight

Epiphany 2     Isaiah 62:1-5     (This sermon can be used on many different Sundays, including Transfiguration Sunday, especially Series A.)

The Old Testament lesson for today says that the Lord God gives us a new name and that new name is "My Delight." To begin this semron, we need to think about things that delight us and make us smile inside.

So, I have been thinking of personal objects, places and people that make me feel absolutely delightful. These particular objects, places and people make me feel immensely happy and immensely pleased when I think of them.

I asked my wife, "Jan, what are particular things that make you happy, smile inside and think good thoughts?" She answered, "Her grandma bracelet, that bracelet with its gold charms with the names of the granchildren on them, the one like my mother had." "What else?" "My wedding that matches yours. Wedding pictures. Old pictures of our children when they were young."

How about you, What are those particular things that delight you?

I started to think back on objects that I delight in, and I thought of the 1957 pink, Oldsmobile convertible, with its J-2 pots, the best and fastest carburetors in town. Sitting there next to me in the right seat was Lorna Finkelbaum, my girlfriend, her hair blowing in the breeze, as I drove as fast as I could down the country roads. I absolutely delighted in that machine, with Lorna sitting next to me.

My partner over there delights in his Harley. Alot of you men do.

I absolutely delight in this wedding ring on my finger. I take great delight in it. There are only two rings like this in the whole world; belonging to my wife, Jan and I. I would feel really depressed if I ever lost it.  What a terrible thought. There was that special day near our tenth anniversary. We were living in Eugene, Oregon.    We had just given birth to a new child. To commemorate our marriage and the birth of this new child, we went to a jeweler and he designed these rings for us. We delight in them. These are the only two rings like this in the world.

Pastor Doug Anderson of our church has a Christmas village that takes him days to set up. He is so proud of that village. Every year at Christmas time, we go over to his home and living room, and stand closely to that table. Doug absolutely delights in showing us how he has arranged his Christmas village this year and he delights in displaying the new buildings and figurines that he has added. 

You are like me. You have those sacred objects in your life that give you enormous and immense pleasure as well.

Another question: What are those places that give you immense pleasure, those places that make you smile when you think of them. Your garden? The flower beds? Your house? Your summer cottage of your childhood? The first tee on a certain golf course? The panoramic vista of Crystal Mountain Ski area that looks over at Mount Rainier in all of her glory? What are thsoe places that delight your heart? That make you smile inside when you see them?

But it is not only particular sacred objects and places that give us immense pleasure, so do people.  There are certain people and certain times in their lives that give us immense pleasure. When our children were babies, what delight and pleasure we take in them. Chris and Heidi Kramer are new, first time parents of their little baby girl, and they are insufferable in their delight in their daughter. So it is with new parents.  How proud and happy we are. Then the baby becomes two or three years old and we continue to delight in them. How I delighted when our child learned to talk and could say, “Merry Kissmas.” Or when that three year old crawls in bed with you and snuggles up to read a book, how our souls delight. I received telephone calls the other night from my old and best friends, Rollie Martinson and Ken Duley. How I delighted to hear their voices, their chatter and their personalities that give me great pleasure. How I delighted in our wedding so many years ago and more recently, how I delighted in our daughter’s wedding, especially sharing a dance with her and the song that she chose for our dance. “You are the wind beneath my wings.” What a moment. Yes, people give us enormous pleasure and delight.

It is with this mood of memories of particular objects, places and people in which we delight; it is with this mood of being absolutely delighted that we approach the Old Testament lesson for today from Isaiah 62. Isaiah 62 is a poem, and in that poem, God absolutely delights in the people of God. In this poem, God says, “You shall be to me like a gold crown in my hand. You shall be to me like a precious diamond in my fingers. I am going to give you a new name, and your new name is ‘My Delight.’ No more will I call you ‘desolate.’ No more will I call you ‘forsaken.’ No more will I call you ‘orphan.’ I have now given you a new name and you new name is ‘My Delight.’ For I delight in you like a groom delights in his bride, so I the Lord God delight in you.’”

My mind immediately flashes to the wedding I had yesterday. The groom was 40 and the bride was also 40 and neither one of them had ever been married before. Wow. Do you think they delighted in each other? Do you think that the two mothers delighted in their adult children finally finding a mate for life? EVERYONE was delighted during the marriage yesterday. The groom delighted in his bride and I the Lord God delight in you people who are my bride.

My mind flashes immediately to the picture on our bedroom wall. It is a picture from our wedding, with my bride and I coming down the center aisle from our wedding ceremony. She is beaming like you have never seen her beam before. She is so delighted in that photograph.  In the same way, God delights in us. God looks at us and delights in us.

Let's look at the Bible and the different places in the Bible where we hear about the words, MY DELIGHT.

The historical situation of this poem is Isaiah 62. We know that the Book of Isaiah has three basic divisions: Isaiah 1-39, 40-55 and 56-66. This poem is at the end of the Book of Isaiah and the people had been in exile for many long years. Their temple and capital city had been destoyed and the people had been beaten down?

Have you ever been in that situation, where you felt that life had beaten you down, beaten you into bits. The Lord God said to his people. "No longer will I call you Forsaken and no longer will I call you Desolate and no longer will I you can ophan. Instead, I will give you a new name and  your new name will be, MY DELIGHT, for I delight in you.

Sometimes when we are down, we want to hear someone say to us, "I delight in you. I feel good about you. The thought of  you makes me smile."

If you are down and out in this moment of your life, hear the Word of the Lord for you today. Your name is MY DELIGHT and I delight in you.

Another Biblical reference to these wonderful words, MY DELIGHT.  Five hundreds years after the prophet Isaiah, his words were fulfilled in the baptism of Jesus. In the baptism of Jesus, people heard the words from the Lord God burst from the sky, “This is my son whom I love, in whom my soul delights.” During the baptism, God totally delighted in his son, and I can understand that because I too have absolutely delighted in my children.

Then we feel these words in the life of Jesus. Five hundred years after the prophet Isaiah, his words were not only fulfilled in the baptism of Jesus, but also on the lips and person of Jesus. As God delighted in Jesus and the delight of God lived in him, so Jesus delighted in all the people he met. Jesus met fisherman and farmers, tax collectors and tanners, widows and widowers, the poor and the prostitutes, the shepherds and the servants; and when Jesus met them all, the took delight in them. As God rhapturiously delighted in Jesus and the delight of God lived in Jesus, so Jesus then took delightful pleasure in those people he met and spent time with.

And other people who were part of Jesus' life. The poor, the maimed, the blind, the lame, the lepers. No one delighted in those people. The Pharisees looked down on such folks and thought, "I wonder what they did that was so bad that God punished them with blindness, lameness, disease and poverty." And Jesus? He absolutely delighed in those folks who were down and out on their luck and sick, lame and blind. Jesus smiled at them and delighted in them.

And then in the Transguration Story in the Gospel of Matthew, (Matthew 17:5), a voice from heaven spoke similar as happened at his baptism and God said, "This is my beloved Son in whom my soul delights. Listen to him."

So....What does this have to do with you and me? As God delighted in the Old Testament people so much that he gave them a new name; you are named “My Delight.” As God delighted in Jesus at his baptism and his voice burst from the sky, “You are my Son, much loved, in whom my soul delights.  As Jesus delighted in all of those people that he met during his life; so also God delights in you and gives you a new name. You are now named, “My Delight.” God absolutely delights in you and your new secret name is, “My Delight.”

Your response? “Not me, Lord, I have bad teeth. Not me Lord, I have knobby knees and funny legs. Not me, Lord, I am a compulsive eater. Not me, Lord, I am a compulsive complainer. Not me, Lord, I am selfish, selfish, selfish. Not me, Lord, I am curved in on myself. My name is Deceiver. My name is Selfish. My name is Pleasure-Seeker. My name is Materialist.” … Jesus says, “No, you have a new name, a secret name, and your new name is My Delight.”  “O Lord, you are wrong. Lord, I am not sure if I even believe in you. I am not sure if you exist. I am not sure if you are whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I am not sure if I pray enough. I don’t read my Bible enough. I have my secret sins. And…and…My name is Shallow. My name is Uncommitted. My first name is Luke and my second name is Warm and I am Luke Warm. That is my true name. My true name is Luke Warm.” My first name is Matt and my second name is "aerialist" and my full name is Materialist. That is what I am." Jesus says, “No, no, no, no, no. Your secret name is ‘My Delight.’ For I absolutely delight in you. You are precious to me like a new gold ring. You are precious to me like a lovely new bride. You are precious to me like a three year old child whom a father deeply loves.” “O Lord, that is all so much gush.  That is all so much sentimental slush. It is murky mush. Get off that sweet talk. Your expressions of love make me feel uncomfortable, sweet and sleezy.” Jesus said, “I delight in you and you have a new name, whether you like it or not.”

Robert Schuller, in his book, THE NEW REFORMATION, says that the fundamental problem of all human beings is the lack of genuine respect, the lack of genuine self-esteem, the lack of genuine self-acceptance. Behind all pride, behind all egocentricity, behind all vanity, behind all subtle forms of bragging, behind all self-inflation, behind all feelings of inferiority, behind all self-doubt, behind all self-criticism, behind all depression is that fundamental problem of the lack of genuine self-esteem. This problem haunts your life and haunts my life. Therefore, all people hunger for genuine self-esteem and genuine self-respect.

“What is it that motivates all people?” Schuller asks. Karl Marx says that it is the pursuit of material things. Freud says that it is the pursuit of pleasure and sex. Adler says that it is the pursuit of power. Victor Frankl says it is the pursuit of meaning.  Robert Schuller says that it us the pursuit of genuine self-respect.

 And not finding genuine self-respect and not discovering genuine self-esteem and not really believing that your secret name is “My Delight,” therefore human being search for other substitutes. As a substitute for genuine self-respect and self-esteem, we strive for substitutes such as being popular. We strive to succeed. We strive to be rich. We strive to be intelligent. We strive to be beautiful. We strive to be athletic. We strive for fame. We strive to leave our mark in some way. We strive to be a good mother or father. We strive to be a productive person. If I am some of these things, then I am delightful. So we create this veneer of self-respect, this veneer of self-acceptance that if I am popular, rich, intelligent, beautiful, athletic, productive, good mother or father or at my job, then the world will love me and then I will love me and then I will delight in who I am. So we go off on this wild goose chase, chasing genuine self-respect, trying to find self-respect in all these ways.  But God simply whispers in our ear, “You have a new name. You are My Delight.”

Do you remember that story of the Wizard of Oz? Do you remember the main character, Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy was looking for happiness and couldn’t find it in her own back yard of Kansas. She was knocked out, had a dream, and went to live in the land of Oz. She traveled all over the land of Oz, trying to find happiness. Finally, in the movie, she comes out of her dream and wakes up. You remember her famous line. Happiness was all along … “in my own back yard.” Right here back in Kansas, all along, right here… “in my own back yard.” She immortalized that phrase, “here in my own back yard.”

We search the world for genuine self-respect. We look for genuine self-esteem. We travel down all those false avenues, and all along, genuine self-esteem was right here in our own back yard … when God said, “I will give you your secret name. You’re name is My Delight.” And you respond, “O no. Not me Lord. I have problems. I am not smart enough. I haven’t got enough personality. I am too  young. Too old. Too fat. Too skinny. Too tall. Too short. Lord, there are all these things wrong with me.” God says, “You have missed the point. You have a name and your secret name is My Delight.” Your genuine self-respect is right here, as close as my voice that says to you, “You are My Delight, and I delight in you. That truth is as close as my voice is to you and my voice lives within you. The truth is so close that sometimes you cannot find it because you think the truth of self-acceptance is out there, some place else, when it is really here. Here in the sound of my voice. You are My Delight.”

Schuller reports the time he heard Dr. Vincent Peale preach. Normal Vincent Pearle stood in front of everybody and said, “There is not one place in the Bible where God called anybody a sinner or where Jesus called anybody a sinner. Jesus never said, ‘YOU sinner, you.’ Not once in the Bible did Jesus ever say that.” Robert Schuller thought to himself, “Vincent Peale has it all wrong.” So Schuller got out his Bible. Schuller had one of those King James Versions of the Bible where Jesus only spoke in red ink. Do you remember those kinds of Bibles, that had all of Jesus’ words in red ink? So Schuller read all the lines that were in red ink, and lo and behold, Normal Vincent Peale was right. Not once did Jesus say, “YOU sinner. YOU failure. You flunky who makes all those mistakes.” You see, Jesus didn’t have to tell us we are sinners; we all know that. We all realize that we are sinners. We don’t need someone to tell us the obvious. But what we don’t know is that our secret name is My Delight. That is what we don’t know. That is what we don’t believe. Because we do not know it and because we do not really believe it, we all search for the inauthentic forms of self-respect and self-esteem. We never find what we are looking for. …  Why? Because genuine self-respect is found is so very close to us, inside of us. It is so near. It is the voice of God as close as within who whispers, “You are My Delight.”  And somewhere and sometime, you start to believe the voice of God. 

Let me tell you a story of a person who was such an important person in our parish before she died. Her name was Dot Skelly. She was one of the finest people I knew. Like many people, her emotional life had been shattered. A famous limerick could describe her life:  “Humpty Dumpty, sat on the wall. Humpty, Dumpty, had a great fall. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”  That’s the way Dot was. She had taken a fall, a great fall, and the shell of her life was shattered to bits. She was like a shattered eggshell and no one could put her life back together again. But slowly and surely, a miracle happened, and the shells of her life were reassembled and put back together again.  For a long time, she was like broken egg shells glued together, and there were bumps, and cracks and scars in her reassembled life. As time passed, even those bumps and cracks began to smoothen out, and we, her friends, witnessed a genuine miracle. Gradually, Dot understood again that she was a wonderful golden crown of God, that God delighted in her. The miracle happened in her: she discovered genuine self-respect that came from God. And then another miracle occurred, she began giving genuine respect to others around her. She delighted in herself and she therefore began to delight in others around her. I saw this transition with my own eyes. I saw this transfiguration with my own eyes. I saw this miracle when she gradually discovered genuine self-respect. She was transfigured before my very own eyes. She was transformed before all of us.

It is from this genuine from this genuine self respect; it is from this genuine self-esteem; not from the self-esteem that takes the gifts from God and use those God-given gifts to make me feel superior to others; but it is from the genuine self-respect that we find in God’s Delight in Us, that we begin to have genuine self-respect and genuine respect for other people.

The parallel is found in the life of Jesus. At his baptism, God’s voice burst from heaven and said, “This is my Son, my much loved son, in whom my soul delights.” God delighted in Jesus and God’s delight lived in Jesus. Therefore, Jesus delighted in all those people that he met. Yes, they were all sinners and flawed but he delight in them. … Likewise with you and me, as the delight of God lives inside of us, we then begin to delight in others around us, even though they are flawed and imperfect like we are.

When I begin to delight in myself as flawed, imperfect, sinful person, then I begin to delight in others who are also flawed, imperfect and sinful. The love of God in me starts to rub off on others; the delight in me begins to delight in others.

A long time ago, Isaiah the prophet said, “You shall be to me like a crown of gold in my hand. You shall be to me like a sparkling diamond in my fingers. I am going to give you a new name and your new name will be ‘My delight.’” Today, Jesus has given you a new name. It is a secret name that he whispers into your ear, so you will not forget it. Believe it. Accept it. You are My Delight. That is your new name.  Amen.

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