“Extinguish Lights” is a bugle melody played by the military for nearly two centuries to signal the end of day and call soldiers to bed. It was apparently first played at a military funeral during the Civil War, and has since come to be identified especially with that purpose.
A government resolution adopted eight years ago asks each of us to pause on Memorial Day at three o’clock tomorrow afternoon to remember all those who died in the service of our country. The resolution asks us to spend that moment in silence or in listening to “Taps.” We will do both today.
This morning we will listen to another trumpet call as well, one which predates “Taps” by 32 centuries. For 40 days after Easter we celebrated the gospel, the good news that God loves us. Now we’re learning how to experience that good news personally, wherever we need God’s help and hope today.
On Mothers’ Day, Hannah taught us to surrender our Samuel, giving our best to God, believing that he can do more with us than we can do with ourselves. Last week, David taught us to ignore our critics and trust God’s power over God’s enemies, believing that a slingshot in God’s hand is mightier than the tallest giant.
Have you ever run out of gas? I don’t mean figuratively but literally. These days our cars tell us how many miles we have left in the tank, and all kinds of lights and bells go off when we get close. It wasn’t always that way.
I’ve run out of gas twice. The first time was in Midland when I had just bought the car of my dreams, a 1965 Ford Mustang fastback. White, candy-apple red interior, four on the floor English racing transmission. And a defective gas gauge, as it turned out. My first week to drive the car, it said I had a quarter of a tank of gas left when I ran out. Janet was not amused when I called for help.
The other time was also in Midland. I drove one of the church’s vans to Brownwood for a trustee meeting at Howard Payne University. The staff gave me the key to the vehicle, but not the key to the locking gas cap. I pulled into town, running on fumes, to discover that I had no way to get gas into the tank. A locksmith had to save the day.
I am holding a stone which changed the world. I know this because I picked it up last month in the Valley of Elah. It was the very stone used by David to slay Goliath. It’s been waiting there 30 centuries for me to find it. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
I did actually find the stone in the valley, at the very place where the famous battle was fought, but ours was one of about ten tour groups who came through picking up stones that day. I’m guessing that someone working for the Israeli tourism industry must truck in stones periodically to replenish the supply. But I’m sure that mine is the correct one.
It was a stone like this one, in the hands of a young shepherd boy, which changed the course of human history. What God did with that boy, he waits and longs to do with your life and mine. But it’s hard for us to believe that we can be a David today.
On this Senior Recognition Sunday, Pike and I are speaking to graduates and their families. You’re stepping into a hard and harsh world, with earthquakes in China, cyclones in Myanmar, explosions in India, and economic uncertainty around the globe. You’re looking at a future you cannot see, with giants of fear and uncertainty lurking on every hand.
This has been a tough week for me. It started so well. A wonderful weekend of ministry last Saturday and worship on Sunday. I was excited about this week and all it held. Then I came home from work Monday evening to find my AARP application waiting for me.
I will turn 50 later this month. I will then be half a century old. It’s a milestone worthy of reflection. Over these 50 years, what events stand out as most significant? There’s no contest: my salvation, my marriage, and the birth of our sons.
Every parent would feel the same way. There is no greater privilege in life than being a father or a mother. And no challenge more important or overwhelming. To be so responsible for another person–to be the most important influence on an eternal soul–is a daunting assignment.
If you’re a mother, you’re facing such a challenge today. The good news is that God wants to help. He wants to help every mother and every mother’s child with the burdens and responsibilities we carry. But there’s a catch, as we’ll see this morning.