Rev. Robert Eckert

A Message for You

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

LeBron James, Jerry Sandusky, and things that matter by REV. ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church I was a fan of LeBron James when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I like to root for underdogs, and the Cavs—until James arrived—had been as unlikely title contenders as the NBA has ever known. Even if it would have come at the expense of the Pistons, I would have been happy to see him carry his team to a championship. Then came “The Decision” and I’ve hated LeBron James ever since. Yup, I said “hate.” I know it’s a strong word, but that’s the beauty of professional sports in America. We can love and hate whomever we want for whatever reason we want; it’s totally arbitrary. So naturally I was disappointed when the Miami Heat won the NBA championship back on June 21 and dreaded the hoopla that began as soon as LeBron had his ring. But the spotlight was soon pointed elsewhere. On June 22, Jerry Sandusky, Penn State University football defensive coordinator, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. “THAT will get LeBron James off the front page,” I thought. “If he had to win, at least he won’t get to bask in the afterglow.” What!? Was that really the first thing that came to my mind upon hearing the next painful chapter in a devastating tragedy that will have an impact on its victims, its perpetrator, their families and other personal and professional friends and acquaintances for years to come!? I’m embarrassed that I’ve allowed the hype of our national obsession with sports to blur my vision of what’s silly and what’s significant. I’m saddened to realize that I’ve allowed the over-saturation of lurid stories that bombard us daily to anesthetize me to the real pain that lies behind such stories. The unexpected death of a member of our church three days after the Sandusky verdict helped snap me back to what really matters. But that shouldn’t have been necessary. In Hebrew scripture, the prophet Ezekiel attributes to God this intention for the people of God’s creation: “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” How is it that any of us can hold […]

A Message for You

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

God of Gentle Whispers by REV. ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church “…the Lord wasn’t in the wind… the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake… the Lord wasn’t in the fire… After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet,” from 1 Kings 19:11-12, Common English Version. Hebrew scripture tells the story of a prophet named Elijah, a man who zealously advocated on behalf of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at a time in the history of ancient Israel when its king and queen, Ahab and Jezebel, zealously advocated on behalf of the idol-god Baal. More than different perspectives on the mysteries of life, this was a struggle for the hearts and minds of the people of Israel, a conflict of ideologies that turned violent with Ahab and Jezebel killing prophets of God and Elijah killing prophets of Baal. When Elijah feared that the next clash with the king and queen would be the one that would cost him his life, he ran into the desert to hide and eventually holed up in a cave on Mt. Horeb, described in the story as “God’s mountain.” While in the cave Elijah heard a voice that he identified as God asking, “Why are you here?” as in, “What the heck are you doing here?” Elijah reminded God of his passionate service on God’s behalf, then summarized the current status of the campaign: “They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!” The voice told Elijah to go out of the cave and stand on the mountain, “The Lord is passing by.” Elijah must have felt that he’d gone from the frying pan into the fire. It wasn’t enough that Ahab and Jezebel wanted him dead, now he had to answer directly to God. He was frightened, ashamed, alone, and likely expecting the worst. And he got it—a strong wind blew that tore apart rocks—God must have really been angry, but wait, “the Lord wasn’t in the wind.” Then an earthquake and then a fire, but the Lord wasn’t in either of those. Finally after all the pyrotechnics, “a sound. Thin. Quiet.” Some translations say “a still, […]