Sermon of the Week:
Those Who Dream–Keep Awake
First Sunday of Advent
Keywords: Dear Hank and John, Ryder the Aussie, Apocalypse, Keep Awake, Advent. #pcusa
Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-733469. All rights reserved.
So, I want to give you all a bit of an update about our new-to-us dog Ryder
and talk a bit about a podcast that I listen to from time to time
a podcast called Dear Hank and John, hosted by the Green Brothers:
Author and Biologist Hank Green and young adult novelist John Green.
Some of you may have read one of John’s books
or follow Hank on Tiktok. More about them in a moment.
Ryder is our rambunctious one-year-old Australian Shepherd,
and I introduced him to you all back in the Spring in one of our sermons
when we were looking at this image in the Bible
where Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd
and where the Psalmist says The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.
I promise, we didn’t get Ryder, the Australian Shepherd,
just for the sermon illustrations.
But some of you have been asking me how he’s been doing
and the answer is that he’s doing just fine, thank you. Great, in many ways.
He’s a bit older now, a bit bolder, and he’s certainly made our house his home.
He fits in nicely with our other pup Annie.
He knows which chairs are good to lie around in.
He is such a lover, and he will lie for a spell in your lap
spread out awkwardly, all 40 pounds of him.
He will sometimes bark to tell us the neighbor dogs are out,
so if you hear him during the service, well, he can’t always help himself.
And, yes, I get frustrated with him from time to time.
He’s still really young, and he can be a lot,
particularly when we’re out on a walk and trying to get some of his energy out.
Oh, like most dogs, he LOVES to go on his walk.
See the sights.
Smell the smells.
And maybe, more than most dogs,
Ryder loves the squirrels.
He’s obsessed with the squirrels.
If they come close to our path, he’ll watch them, closely,
and more often than not, he’ll let them know we’re coming
with a bark or two or three
and a potent lunge on his leash.
At this point, let me ask:
Have you noticed, lately, that there are a LOT of squirrels this year.
Even before we brought Ryder home,
we noticed the extra squirrels in our neighborhood
and we had guessed that, well,
maybe that was because the pandemic had such an impact on driving, you know:
fewer cars on the road, people staying home for weeks,
and fewer cars meant fewer obstacles for the squirrels,
meaning maybe more squirrels,
meaning squirrels more for Ryder to see
as we try to go on a peaceful walk around town.
So that’s been annoying, if I’m honest.
I try not to get grumpy with him. I understand that he’s young, and that he’s learning.
And sometimes he gets it. Sometimes he’ll heed my ‘leave it’ command.
But he’s inconsistent, at best.
It is one of two things that he does on these walks that frustrate me so.
The other one is the way that he will try to eat all of the stuff that is on the sidewalk
as we mosey our way down the street.
Sometimes these are leaves, or worms,
but really he’s just pushing those things around looking for the good stuff:
Maybe Ryder secretly wants to be a squirrel or something,
because he eats those acorns like the best of them.
So that’s the detail that might help explain this story.
I was out walking Ryder and Annie this week on our last walk of the day.
Sometimes I take them out alone, after dinner, for that walk,
and we go a bit further than normal.
On these walks I often put in my earbuds and turn on something to listen to
so I can maybe take my mind off all the squirrel lunging and acorn eating
that I’m sure we’ll encounter.
That sounds so negative.
Let me stress that we love Ryder so much and
I love walking around with both of our dogs…
these are small potatoes
in the overall joyful collection of gifts that Ryder brings to the table.
But on this walk I fired up my podcast app
and started on the most recent Dear Hank and John[i]
because they’re silly and they try to answer the most interesting and innocent questions
like do planes that go from Chicago to India go over the Pacific or Atlantic oceans
(Answer, by the way, is that some of them go over the north pole)
and those are just the kind of mindless topics
that will take my mind off of Ryder’s scavenging
after I had worked the last two walks that day
to try to rid him of some of that.
He and I both needed a break.
And turning on that podcast mainly worked,
though I was thinking to myself how puppies can be hard
and how he’ll hopefully grow out of some of this
and how I’ll hopefully work to help him grow out of some of this, if I can,
and why are you still hungry after all that dinner you just had…
I was thinking all of that
when Hank and John started talking about something spectacular.
They were answering listener mail, and someone had written in to bring up
something that John had mentioned in an earlier episode,
an episode that I didn’t listen to,
where John was complaining about all the acorns on the ground in Indianapolis
so many acorns
he couldn’t walk outside, barefoot, because he’d step on them. Ouch.
And the writer mentioned to them that this was probably due to this being
what’s called “a masting year.” [Read more…]