At the beginning of the service Pastor Roman Trokhin read out an article by a famous comedian of the 70s-80s George Carlin, who wrote “The Paradox of Our Time” after the death of his wife.
The paradox of our time is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellbeing.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry very quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learnt how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learnt to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology has brought this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete…
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember to say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Remember to say “I Love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.
A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to Love, give time to speak, give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
Life is not measured by how many times you inhale and exhale, but by the moments when you cannot catch your breath!
Our life is all about paradoxes. Often we do not say sweet and warm words to people dear to us, but then at the cemetery we cry a river and say how much we loved them. So often we grudge over money to people dear to us, and when they die we buy them luxurious oak coffins. Shouldn`t we better spend this money for them while they still live? Life is all about paradoxes. How often those, whom you love and to whom you give your soul, become your greatest enemies; and those you never thought will be good to you – on the contrary, turn out to be loyal and reliable people. How often children rise against their parents, against those, who gave them all good and the best.
The Bible is also full of paradoxes. One of the Bible paradoxes is Absalom.
“But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” 2 Samuel 14:25.
Absalom had everything. He was the heir of the royal throne. He was handsome, talented, and praised. One could justly notice everything that Absalom had including recognition, fame and popularity thanks to his father David. Absalom possessed all these things, but at the price, which David paid for the kingdom. Absalom’s father did not mind it; he was glad to give his son opportunities and welfare. Absalom had everything one could only dream of. According to the law, he as the oldest son and heir was supposed to take his father’s place after his death. Absalom could receive the kingdom and his father’s blessing… but something was wrong with Absalom.
“After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” 2 Samuel 15:1-6.
So what was wrong with Absalom?
- Absalom disregarded the understanding of the fact that he was handsome, successful, and gifted only thanks to his father. If Absalom lived on his own in some other country, it is doubtful that he would achieve a similar level.
- Absalom had wrong motives.
It is vital what you conceal in your heart. Absalom looked at his father only as a stepping stone to his carrier. Absalom had hidden motives that nobody knew about. He had lived many years with his father and the father never had a clue. Absalom led a double life. Every parent is ready to be a step for their child, but children must never view their fathers from such a position. Absalom had selfish motives.
- Absalom could not be faithful in small and in that of someone else’s, he wanted to gratify his own interests.
Absalom blocked the access of people to the king.
- Absalom built his authority at the cost of humiliation of his father.
Absalom used his father’s crisis to build a name for himself.
“And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD. And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not anything. And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” 2 Samuel 15:7-14
Absalom is dangerous, because he involves other people in his plans. God forbid for any of us to ever flee from our sons. It is a paradox – one is supposed to flee from enemies, not from sons.
“And the king’s servants said to the king, “We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands.” Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house. And the king went out with all the people after him, and stopped at the outskirts. Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king. Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. For you are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place. In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return, and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you.” But Ittai answered the king and said, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.” So David said to Ittai, “Go, and cross over.” Then Ittai the Gittite and all his men and all the little ones who were with him crossed over” 2 Samuel 15:15-22.
The topic of this sermon is very useful for us as it opens our eyes to give us a deeper understanding about life. We also need this sermon so we learn not to put our trust in people, but in God. We are going to pass through different stages in our life; people will betray and wound us, but the most important is not to become Absaloms, because all Absaloms end badly.
“And ten young men who bore Joab’s armour surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him” (2 Samuel 18:15).
In the end of the service Pastor and the church congratulated Tatiana Nikolayevna Freshchenko on her birthday. “This lady is indeed worthy of honour. She is one of the first members of our church; she is a leader and a minister, who faithfully fulfils the ministry entrusted to her. Thank you for your loyalty and dedication! We love you!” – With these words Pastor gave Tatiana a bouquet of roses. Then everyone prayed and blessed the birthday-girl.
Translated by Ekaterina Popova
Edited by Emmanuel Chindove