Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: That's My Astronomy - An Important Illustration About Religion

As I was studying the book of Malachi for tonight's Bible study I came across the following humorous illustration.  I originally heard it from Dr. Mark Dever in his sermon on the book of Malachi.  What I like about it is the point it makes and its connection with Malachi.  Malachi is a book about true worship of God apart from fake religion.  Today there are many who simply go through the motions of religion and evangelicalism and think that God accepts such empty faith.  Others have the opposite reaction and simply suggest that knowing God in any deep reality isn't important.

The following illustration responds to the latter:

George Buttrick was for many years the popular Senior Minister of Madison Avenue Presbyterian
Church in New York and a highly south-after preacher.

One Saturday morning he was flying back to Manhattan after spending the week as the main speaker at
a preachers’ conference. During the flight he pulled out a pad of paper and a pencil, and began
sketching some notes for Sunday’s sermon.

After noticing what he was doing, the man sitting next to him said, “I hope I’m not being too forward here – you’re obviously preparing something important. Could you tell me what in the world you’re working on?”

“Oh, I’m a Presbyterian minister,” Dr. Buttrick replied. “I’m working on my sermon for Sunday.”

“Oh, religion,” said the man. “I don’t like to get all caught up in the in’s and out’s and complexities of religion. I like to keep it simple. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ The Golden Rule – that’s all the religion you need!”

“Well that is important, but for me it’s much deeper than that,” Dr. Buttrick replied.

“May I ask what it is that you do?”

“I’m an astronomer. I teach at the university,” the man replied.

“Oh yes,” said Dr. Buttrick. “Astronomy – I don’t like to get all caught up in the in’s and out’s and
complexities of astronomy. ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star,’ – that’s my astronomy.”

(Quoted by Tom Long in “Ten Great Preachers” p. 87)

HT:  Rev. Don Parsons 

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