St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-05-2016

St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-05-2016

Why Me?

1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24), Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

In our English language there are lots and lots of little two word phrases that can convey a whole lot of meaning, multiplied even more by changing the use of punctuation and again by changing the emphasis from one word to the other. Unfortunately, many, perhaps most, of them are not suitable for use in a sermon in a Christian church. The phrase I’m using in today’s sermon, I’m sure, is perfectly acceptable although, at least at first impression, it doesn’t really convey a good Christian attitude.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to search the entire content of three or four English translations of the Bible and discovered that the phrases “why me” and its expanded version “What did I do to deserve this” do not appear a single time. We can find, however, scores of instances where the same essence of the phrase is found, just in different words, and even more cases where the character is saying it implicitly if not explicitly.

Just a few examples…

Spread out over a few chapters in Genesis we find the story of Joseph. First, his brothers sell him into slavery. He would certainly deserve to say “why me”. A little later in his life, things are looking a bit better for him. He’s still a slave, but he is trusted enough to be put in charge of the household of one of pharaoh’s high ranking officers. But then his master’s wife starts thinking that he is rather attractive. After several failed attempts to convince Joseph to spend a little quality time with her, she grabs a hold of him at which point Joseph runs out the door leaving his clothing in her hand. In her anger, she makes up a story about an attempted assault, holds up his clothing as evidence, and Joseph soon finds himself forgotten in jail. Again he could say “why me”.

In the very next book of the Bible, Exodus, in chapter 4 we find the story of God calling on Moses to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt. After a little conversation about this idea, Moses says in verse 10 “…[but]  I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”; in a sense he’s saying “wh-wh-why me”.

And then there’s the story of Job. Now if anyone deserved to cry out “why me” it is Job. A well- to –do, righteous man, always faithful to God, loses everything he has, save his wife and his life, in one day. His crops, his sheep, his camels, his sons and their families, even his health are all gone!  A couple of his friends try to convince him that he must have done something wrong to deserve this, and his wife tries to talk him into believing that he is better off dead. But Job is asking “Why me?”

Then look at Jonah, there is a character that doesn’t just say “why me” when God calls on him, he takes off in the opposite direction, gets tossed off a ship, swallowed by a fish and when he finally does deliver God’s message to Nineveh, he feels he has been made a fool of when God changes His mind about destroying the city. Jonah really gets into the “why me” when he says he is “…angry enough to die”.

In today’s Old Testament reading, as the widow hosting Elijah says “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” she is in affect saying “why me”.

And in today’s Gospel reading we here of a widow who just lost her only son, her only hope for continuing support, to death. We don’t hear her speaking any words but we can imagine she is thinking “why me”.


Of course, I’ve said it too. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this room who has. Like when I tore my knee a few years ago; “why me”. and, again, after the first surgery and it wasn’t healing well and the Doctor said ““I’ve done hundreds of these surgeries and never had a problem like this before”. “Why me”.

Then there was the time a few years before that when I had a feeling of kinship with Moses as I began to sense a call to the ministry. Who, me? A man scared to death of public speaking, who barely made it through high school? Who is almost 50 years old? You want me to go to school to become a minister? “Why me”?

I once felt like Job, too, during a particularly dark point in my life when my first marriage broke up, I lost the best job I ever had and nearly lost my mind all within a few months time. “Why me”.

And there was that time when I was about 14, 15 maybe 16 years old, when I realized that I had been born to the dumbest, meanest father ever to walk the face of the earth! Why Me?

And yet, in all these cases and the many more, somehow it always seems to work out in the end…

It did for Joseph; he wound up in Pharaoh’s court and became the salvation of his family.

 Moses is still exalted for leading His people out of slavery in Egypt.

Job got back his wealth, health and a new family.

As for Jonah… well, ok the last we hear of him he is still whining over his bruised ego.

And for both of the widows with dead sons in today’s Old Testament and Gospel readings their sons were restored to life and returned to them.

And it has, or is, all working out for me too…

As for my relationship with my Dad, by the time I turned 21 I was amazed at how much he learned in just a few short years.

And that dark time in my life, well… I found a new job, a new wonderful wife and with her help was able to save my mind.

My call to the ministry…Here I am.

And as for my knee, it did heal; it just took a little extra time.

Ah, but what did I just neglect to say after all these…? W-h-y M-e?

You see, you don’t change the punctuation on this phrase to make it mean something different. And you don’t change the emphasis from one word to the other to change its meaning either; you do, however, need to change your heart! And your mind set!

I try to remember this every day. I admit I am not always perfect about it, but of the many, many reminders I have each year, I’ll share with you 5 dates on which I never forget it…

Feb 4th and Oct 6th are the birthdates of my daughter and my son respectively, both born with 10 toes, 10 fingers, and sound bodies and minds. Not everyone is so blessed. Why Me?

Father’s day of course is a reminder of the previous 2 but it also reminds me of my late father who made sure my sisters and I were fed, housed and loved up to and even into our independent lives. Not everyone is so blessed. Why Me?

May 7th is the anniversary of my marriage to a woman who fell in love with a man whose heart, mind, soul, and bank account were all broken. Without her love, I might not have survived. Not everyone is so blessed. Why Me?

Finally, May 21st is the anniversary of an electrical accident that very nearly took my life; obviously I survived. Not everyone is so blessed. Why Me?


We know that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But sometimes bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. In fact, sometimes things just happen; good or bad. It is for this reason that I believe it is not a poor Christian attitude, as I suggested a few minutes ago, to ask “Why Me” when things are going badly…as long as we remember to ask “Why Me” when things are going well.


Now, there were only two times in my life when I called a radio station with a request for a particular song, once on each occasion of the births of my children, the same song both times. Kris Kristofferson wrote it in the 1970s and I think it sums up what I’ve been talking about very well. It goes like this…

1-Why me Lord, What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known

Tell me Lord, What did I ever do that was worth loving You or the kindness You’ve shown.


 Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so help me Jesus, I know what I am

Now that I know that I’ve needed You so help me Jesus, my soul’s in Your hand

2- Tell me Lord, If You think there’s a way I can try to repay all I’ve taken from You

Maybe Lord, I can show someone else what I’ve been through myself on my way back to You.


Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so Help me Jesus, I know what I am

Now that I know that I’ve needed You so Help me Jesus, my soul’s in Your hand.



1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24)
17:8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
17:9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
17:10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”
17:11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
17:12 But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
17:13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.
17:14 For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.”
17:15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days.
17:16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
17:17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.
17:18 She then said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!”
17:19 But he said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed.
17:20 He cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?”
17:21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this child’s life come into him again.”
17:22 The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.
17:23 Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.”
17:24 So the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”


Galatians 1:11-24
1:11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin;
1:12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
1:13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.
1:14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.
1:15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased
1:16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being,
1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
1:18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days;
1:19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.
1:20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!
1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,
1:22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ;
1:23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.”
1:24 And they glorified God because of me.

Luke 7:11-17
7:11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain [NA-ihn], and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.
7:12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.
7:13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
7:14 Then he came forward and touched the bier [bee-er], and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”
7:15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
7:16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!”
7:17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.