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"Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!"           (Mark 11:8-9)


Sermon Excerpt: God Took Our Shame, various texts, Rev. Thomas Hall

Philip Carey is a nine year old who’s just entered a private boy’s school in England in Somerset Maugham’s novel, Of Human Bondage. But all is not right with Philip Carey, for he suffers from talipes, a disease that has left one foot grossly deformed. His clubfoot fascinates the other boys and so on his second day at school, Philip ends up being "pig in the middle" and roams the playground trying to tag boys as they dash across the circle. He tries hard to tag them, but they’re too quick and he too clumsy. Then one boy decides to mimic Philip by clumping and dragging his foot across the playground. Soon all the boys are limping and hooting their way past frightened Philip dragging one foot behind them, choking with laughter. Later that night, three of the boys stand in the dark before Philip’s bed.

"Let’s have a look at your foot," says one of them. "No!" says Philip and jumps into bed and bunches the covers up around his leg. The three boys pin Philip’s arm and twist it. "Why don’t you show us your foot quietly?" When they add more pressure, Philip, gasping and horrified, thrusts his foot out from under the covers. "Beastly," says one. Another traces the outline of the deformity, as if the foot were somehow an object detached from Philip. When the headmaster appears, the boys scamper back to their beds but Philip turns into his pillow and clamps it with his teeth to contain his tears. He cries because he is ashamed of his foot, but also because he’s ashamed that others have gawked at his deformity.

Philip Carey is that kid in all of us. For we all carry within us this primitive human emotion called shame. We’re all Philip Carey because we bear on and within us, our own deformities and deficiencies. And worse yet are those painful moments when our shame is uncovered and exposed for others to see.

That’s the story of Adam and Eve redux. Once they stepped out of Godís order and cosmos, they discovered that they were naked. And for the first time in their lives, they could not stand up to the scrutiny. It wasnít that they just flinched when they saw each other exposed, but that suddenly they realized that they were threadbare and vulnerable . . .

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