This is the sermon I shared on May 27, 2012, at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO
Title: Do For One What You Wish You Could Do For Everyone Text: Mark 1:35-45
In 1998 in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron Hall, a white, wealthy art dealer met Denver Moore, a black, homeless drifter. Ron’s wife, Debbie, had convinced him to volunteer with her at the local homeless shelter, the Union Gospel Mission. This was way out of Ron’s comfort zone but his wife could be very persuasive so he went. As they served meals and visited with the homeless guests, they were drawn to an allusive Denver Moore. Miss Debbie, as Denver referred to her, was convinced that Ron needed to become friends with Denver. Ron didn’t see how they could be friends with so many apparent differences in their lives. But as I said, Miss Debbie could be very persuasive.
Ron and Debbie tried to make conversation with Denver. To ask questions. To learn more about him. Denver didn’t make it easy. He ignored them and refused to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Tuesday as he referred to them because of their weekly day to volunteer at the mission. After several weeks of consistent volunteering, Ron finally was thrown a bone. Denver apologized for purposely avoiding them when they were just trying to be nice. Ron seized the moment and invited Denver to join him for breakfast the next morning. Denver accepted.
Ron picked Denver up at the shelter the next morning and over their grits and eggs, Ron carried the conversation and peppered Denver with questions, trying to get to know him, and rambling about art impressionism. After a while it was clear to Ron that Denver wasn’t listening and was utterly bored. So he stopped talking. After a few moments of silence, Denver looked at Ron and asked, “What you want from me?”
Impressed with the direct question, Ron replied with a direct answer. “I want to be your friend.”
“Let me think about that.” Denver responded.
About a week later, Ron spotted Denver walking and invited him to coffee. Ron got to rambling again and after some silence, Denver spoke. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you asked me.”
Ron had no idea what he was talking about. “What did I ask you?”
Denver replied, “Bout being my friend.” Then he continued. “There’s something I heard ‘bout white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin’. I heard that when white folks go fishin they do something called ‘catch and release’. That bothers me. I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folk go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch … in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all the trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”
Denver paused to let it sink in. “Did you hear what I said?” Ron nodded, afraid to speak or to offend.
Denver looked away and then locked eyes with Ron. “So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: if you is fishin for a friend you just goin’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.” Then Denver’s eyes soften as he said, “But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.” Continue Reading…