"What Disguises Our Clay Feet"

Sermon Preached By Rev. Richard E. Stetler - 8/6/2000

John 6:24-35; II Samuel 11:26--12:13

     A long time ago a sculpture was created of a mighty warrior. A mistake had been made during the casting of the statue and the feet were damaged. Since the masterpiece was to be unveiled publicly within the near future, there was no time to recast the bronze. As a temporary measure, the creator fashioned the warrior's feet out of a sturdy ceramic product. He then joined the feet to the statue and painted them with a bronze compound that carefully matched the metal.

     The statue looked perfect at the unveiling. Truly it was a marvelous piece. Yet in spite of his skill at repairing the flaw, the weight of the statue proved too much. One morning when authorities were opening the display area to the public, they found the bronze warrior on the floor. Upon close examination, the inspectors found that the damage was not caused by vandals as they first suspected, but by the statue's clay feet.

     Those of us who know ourselves well understand this concept. The parts of our personality that we show to the public are generally acceptable and pleasing. Yet always there is one area that remains hidden that can erode our confidence, can disrupt the peacefulness of our lives, or can actually disgrace us. For all its stable appearance, the statue's hidden flaw is what caused it to fall.

     In our lesson today, we have an excellent illustration of this. David was a hero to the people of Israel. He was handsome, strong and wise. He had proven himself to be an excellent leader. But for all his noble qualities, there was a flaw in David's character that had not been addressed. He had everything, but he desired something that was not available to him.

     One afternoon he watched from the palace balcony as Bathsheba took a bath on her sun- porch below him. Captivated by her beauty, David sent for her and the rest is history. Following a script that is as old as humanity itself, David made arrangements to have her husband killed in battle. Then he brought Bathsheba to live with him in the palace.

     What is fascinating about the power of this world is that the scales of justice hang inside each of us. His desire had clouded his judgment and his faithfulness to God. It took the prophet, Nathan, to remind David of his clay feet.

     This morning we are going to look at what often disguises our clay feet? What has the ability to blind us to their existence? As we think through this episode in David's life, we can easily become captivated by the elements of the story. The core message in this drama is not about the prize nor about how David secured his prize. What disguises our own clay feet is the belief that something exists in our world that will make us more complete by possessing it.


     We thank you, God, that our hope and trust rests in what remains beyond ourselves. We have discovered how often our insights are based on fear. Our eyes are trained to detect flaws. We have become suspicious when the words of others do not match what they do. We wait for people to prove their worthiness. Lord, help us discover the substance of leadership. Enable us to guide rather than judge. Lead us to encourage rather than find fault. Help us find the confidence that frees us to love. May we come to view ourselves as teachers who lead by example. May we concentrate on truth, rather than on the quality of life others display. In so doing, may each of us hasten the day when peace will come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen


     Eternal God, in the quiet of these moments, still our spirits with feelings of reverence and peace. How grateful we are that regardless of who we have been in our past, or what we have done to break some law, you accept us and love us as we are. Enable us to achieve the same kind and accepting thoughts toward others as you have toward us.

     Help us to keep our minds clear on the meaning of "Forgive us our trespasses as we" let go of attitudes toward those who have broken their promises to us, those whose values are different from ours, those who act with a less than loving presence, and those who have not conformed to our plans for them.

     O God, how we wish we could understand life as you do. How we wish we could see the difference our smiles make to others who receive them. How we wish we could understand the significance to someone when we listen to their thoughts. How we wish we could sense the impact our written note had on someone caught in a web of self-pity. We often do not know the outcome of our thoughtfulness, praise and patience.

     Continue to use us, O God, so that one day your will for us will be done all over the earth as it is in Heaven. We pray these thoughts through the spirit of Jesus, who taught us to say when we pray...