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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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
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