Every week, Dwight Campbell writes a commentary on Billy's sermon to use as a discussion tool for the Men's Group that meets each Thursday. They meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. however, the group is on a summer break and will return late September.
Link to this sermon
Billy opens Sunday's sermon, "Satchmo and the Great Schnozzola", with a history of Pentecost, reminding us that it was originally a Jewish harvest festival celebrated 7 weeks after the beginning of the harvest. It was during this festival that the Holy Spirit visited the fearful and cowering disciples giving them the courage to go and tell their stories. The scripture, Acts 2, tells us that although the disciples spoke in their home tongues, they were "heard" in the native language of the listener. The real miracle of Pentecost then is one of communication, of bringing people together, and it is on that theme that Billy builds his sermon.
After a brief personal example of how the Holy Spirit helped Billy develop a bond with Cheri in a four and a half hour car ride that led to companionship, marriage and family, Billy builds the main theme of his Sermon. He uses examples of Joe Cocker, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Durante , who at first blush, would not have the voices to become famous singers, yet they all did. Why or, maybe more appropriately, how? Billy then goes on to offer five characteristics that helped these individuals achieve greatness. Rather than follow their ego and let its' arrogance, pride, fears and insecurities get in the way of their bridge building they used (a) phrasing - knowing what and how to say things with appropriate timing, (b) love - they loved and extended love to people and were loved in return, (c) flexibility - they went with the flow, knew they were not in control and had faith, (d) humor - they had a wonderful sense of humor and could laugh at themselves, and finally (e) relationships - even though they were solo acts, they embraced their accompaniment knowing no one makes it alone.
For our introspective work while contemplating this sermon, it may be worthwhile considering these five traits in terms of how one develops spiritually. Knowing when, what and how to say something requires effective listening so one can seek to understand others, making them important in the exchange. As the exchange continues, seek to see the "Christ" within. Extending love requires us to see through the ego and realize that we all have hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations in this life. Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, defined enlightenment as "absolute acceptance of the inevitable" or more simply, accepting and embracing what is. My life is a faith journey that accepts that God is in charge, and not me, no matter how much my ego wants me to be. Realizing that we are one small but integral part of the body of Christ will allow us to not take ourselves too seriously. Finally, as we view the great vistas in our life's journey, we must always remember on whose shoulders we are standing that allowed us to get here.
Billy closes this great sermon singing "What a Wonderful World". If I had closed eyes, I would have thought that Satchmo has there!
Love and Blessings,