Stocki IF preach...

While on sabbatical at Regent College, Vancouver in 2005 I spent a lot of time listening to Darrell Johnston on preaching. As well as the skills that I hope I learned Darrell left me phrases and theology to ponder and use down the years.

This last week I used again a phrase of Darrell’s that I have repeated like a mantra. In his description of what happened in those early chapters of Genesis Darrell said, “Humanity reached to be more and ended up less.” That is the kind of line that becomes a refrain for me; succinct, descriptive and full of depth charge.

I was preaching on Psalm 131 on Sunday. Just three verses, the first verse says, 

My heart is not proud, Lord,

    my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

    or things too wonderful for me.

This is King David’s renunciation of pride and self-exaltation Eugene Peterson in his commentary Long Obedience In The Same Direction writes, “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him”

It reminded me of what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (12:3) - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 

One of the idols of our day is unfettered ambition. Peterson describes ambition as “aspiration gone mad.” We do need to aspire to the best we can be. However, the world we live in seems to aspire to be more than we are. I am reminded of a conversation with a friend who used to be a teacher and got frustrated when a pupil reached his or her full potential in gaining a B but the parents were still demanding an A. 

The Psalmist is sharing the wisdom of finding our place. A refrain of mine is, “do not demand expect perfection but never settle for second best”. Finding our place under god and alongside our fellow humans will allow us to make our contribution. Anything else and we are back to Eden and learning nothing about that time when we reached to me more and ended up less. 

I wrote this poem based on Darrell’s phrase. I was imagining a 60’s song writer reflecting on the moon landing. What is my, your and our babel Moon?


It lights up the night

And pulls at the tides

Now just a dumping ground

For our new pleasure rides

It reflects the world so pretty

Will we now deface it

It hangs in such humility

Will we now disgrace it


Is this our Babel Moon

Our Eden idea of progress

Reaching to be more

And ending up less


They say a leap for mankind

In this tiny step of a man

But where is the leaping to

And who will rule the land

We can build the greatest things

And tear our souls apart

Becoming slaves to flags

And not the servant heart.


Is this our Babel Moon

Our Eden idea of progress

Reaching to be more

And ending up less

Reaching to be more

And ending up less.



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