Chuck Norris is a famous movie and television star, especially known for his show Walker, Texas Ranger. He is also a world-champion black-belt martial artist. Because of his character being unstoppable with insane near superpowers and skill there is a whole genre of Chuck Norris jokes, which are referred to as Chuck Norris facts. Chuck Norris jokes/facts. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. When Chuck Norris gets pulled over, he lets the cop off with a warning. When Chuck Norris steps on a Lego, the Lego cries. Chuck Norris counted to infinity, twice. Chuck Norris was born in a log cabin he build with his own hands. That one got me to thinking there is someone about whom statements like that are actually true. Jesus was born in a manger that He created. Jesus rode on a donkey He created. Jesus was born to parents He created. Jesus walked on an earth He created. Jesus died on a cross made from a tree He made. At the time of the incarnation, Jesus who is infinite became a day old. Jesus who has power to create galaxies is now so weak He has to be carried. Jesus who’s hands can hold the oceans, now has fingers too small to hold Mary’s finger. Jesus who’s words spoke creation into existence, how has to be taught how to say words. Jesus who never hungered or thirsted, now cries when He is hungry and thirsty. He who the universe couldn’t contain, is now contained in a manger.
A common feature of Buddhism is prayer wheels. Cylinders with a prayer mantra written on it and inside of it, the first syllable is Om. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition spinning a prayer wheel has the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. “Just touching and turning a prayer wheel brings incredible purification and accumulates unbelievable merit.” Each revolution is as meritorious as reading the inscription aloud as many times as it is written on the scroll, and this means that the more prayer mantras that are inside a prayer wheel, the more powerful it is. One on-line site advertises their prayer wheel this way: “Our prayer wheels contain millions and even billions of the Tibetan Buddhist mantra "Om Mani Padme Hung." The mantras were carefully reproduced on microfilm to allow a large number of mantras to fit inside each prayer wheel.” Buddhist temples will have rows and rows of large prayer wheels that you just walk by to spin. And there are many that are powered by water, wind, solar panels or heat from a candle or fire. That sounds utterly foreign to all of us and we feel sadness for millions of people trapped in such a performance, merit-based religion. We can’t imagine ever doing something like that. Except that we all live in a performance-based world. We grow up in homes where our parents set demands and have expectations based on performance, obedience, keeping the rules. We can often feel like we don’t measure up, we can’t please them, no matter how hard we try.
A few weeks ago I started a sermon with the intention of preaching about two aspects of fatherhood, called the Pleasure and Pain of Fatherhood. I had one key Scripture text for each aspect, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that if I was going to do either text any justice at all I was going to have to devote a sermon to each text. So last time I preached I spoke on what Scripture teaches about the pleasure and delight of fatherhood from the words of God the Father to God the Son at the Son’s baptism. This morning I want to address the question of how we love our children when they sin. What about when they disobey and cause us much displeasure? What does Scripture say about discipline and how do we do it in the context of love and pleasure and delight? Many of us discipline the way our parents did, what we need to do is learn to discipline the way God does. What I want to do again this morning is say some things I wish I had heard 30 years ago and not just heard but taken to heart and put into practice.