Sunday Candy

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. Set The Scene

Sunday Candy.  To set the scene of our scripture, Saul was the King of Israel, and during battle, he and his son, Jonathan, suffered death at the Mt. of Gilboa.  David, who had no relation to Saul, was chosen by God to take the throne because of God’s displeasure with Saul.  But we know that Saul was not too happy with this transition.  He was not happy that his lineage of royalty would not continue, like other kingdoms, like dynasties from other countries; he was not happy that his sons would be passed over for succession, that his legacy of the kingdom would end with him.  So, it was well known throughout the kingdom that Saul did not like David, he was jealous, he envied him, he hated him.  And yet that relationship was further complicated because David, had such a deep connection to Jonathan.  The scripture says, that for David Jonathan was greatly beloved, loved so deeply that their relationship transcended even the love that he had for any woman that he loved.  Their relationship ran deep, his love wasn’t just an ordinary love, but a deep-felt unconditional love that touched his soul and connected to the very depths of his being.  So, as David returned from a different battle, a battle in which he was victorious against the Amalekites, he learns about the death of Saul and Jonathan in the line of battle.  And his love shook him to the core, because he has such great love for Jonathan, and Saul, who deeply disliked David, he was greatly grieved by the loss of both of them.  His love was so deep that he loved someone who didn’t deserve his love, he was broken at the loss of him.  He loved so much both Jonathan and Saul, that he had to acknowledge that this was not just his loss, but the loss of the Nation.  He had a love that was almost matchless, a kind of love that is unconditional, inconsequential, without change, big and wide, with passion, something that is only surpassed by God’s love, but at the same time shows us a piece of God’s love.  Because God’s love is unconditional, it is given even when we do not deserve it because of the many times we have sinned against God, and yet it is continuously given.  It is felt so deeply that God sent God’s only begotten son to suffer death upon a cross that we might find new life.  That is how deeply our God loves.  So, what does candy have to do with our scripture this morning? And what is Sunday Candy?

 II. What Is Sunday Candy?

Sunday Candy is a thought that brings to us the imagery of sitting with our grandmother in Sunday morning worship.  You know what I mean that, moment when you were sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, you are trying to focus on what the preacher is saying, and you turn to your grandmother and ask her for a piece of candy, because you know if anyone has a piece of candy, it has got to be your grandmother.  And of course, she hands you that piece of candy, be it a peppermint, a butterscotch, or a piece of chocolate.  But the concept of the Sunday candy is sacred in a sense because it happens as we enter into the presence of our Lord on Sunday morning, but it is also sacred because it shows how much our grandmothers love and care for us, it shows her unconditional love.  No matter what we do, where we go, she is there for us ready to show us love by providing us with candy as a sign of her love.  This candy is sacred because through our grandmother’s act of loving kindness we get a glimpse of God’s unfailing, unconditional love.  Her love runs deep. It is almost matchless, a kind of love that is unconditional, inconsequential, without change, big and wide, with passion, something that is only surpassed by God’s love, but at the same time shows us a piece of God’s love  We don’t always understand where this love comes from or why, but we know that the love is there, and it isn’t going anywhere.  It is a love that we can depend on.  The love of a grandmother transcends cultures and is felt within our bones, she loves us, she nurtures us, and she wants our development, she wants our success and our well-being.  But that Sunday candy is an iconic symbol that shows the deepness of her love.  Even the song-writer Bill Withers, discussed the imagery of a grandmothers love, when he said, “Grandma’s hands, used to hand me a piece of candy, Grandma’s hands picked me up each time I fell…” Even here we see that Sunday Candy is a symbol of her love, a symbol that her love is never ending, because it is almost a given that a never-ending supply of candy is there each Sunday morning.  Her love is continual. Sometimes we have messed up so much, but oftentimes our grandmother’s are there ready to give us love and it is shown in this action of giving us that piece of candy on Sunday morning.  So, the idea of Sunday candy is sacred, it is like no other.  It may not be a sacrament, but Sunday Candy is within itself holy, because it shows us the love of God, even if it is just a small piece, a small conception of God’s love.  But what’s even deeper is that not only does she show us love, but she loves us so much that she prays for us, and she introduces us to the loving God that she knows.

I was reminded of this concept of Sunday Candy from a song, by a group called Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment.  In their song with the same title as our Sermon this morning, the chorus states: “You got to move slowly, take and eat my body like it’s holy, I’ve been waiting for you for the whole week.  I’ve been praying for you, you’re my Sunday candy.”  In these words, I see the beauty of the imagery of visiting with grandma.  How often is it that when we meet with her, we have to enter into the door slowly, because she has to take a look at us, take us in, make sure we have been fed properly, to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.  And for many of us if she takes one look at us, she has a few ideas about how we can better care for ourselves, be it more food, more rest, more time with her.   But in this moment, we see her love, how much she deeply cares for us.  How she reflects God’s love.  Her love for us is sacred, it allows us to meet God in the same way we meet God in the Holy Communion as we take and eat the body of Christ.  A grandmother’s love is an unconventional means of grace, means of grace being a place where we can encounter and connect to God by seeing the vastness of God’s grace that allows us to see the love and holiness of God, it allows us to see how God reaches us.  A grandmother’s love mimics, God’s grace if only in part, because she loves us deeply just on the basis of who we are and it doesn’t change.  So connecting with her is a weekly tradition that we dive into, a weekly tradition that we like to encounter, because our prayers and our grandmother’s prayers are what get us through the week, as we anticipate that Sunday Candy.  When we look at the verses, we see that Chance the Rapper states, “I am the thesis of her prayers.  Her Nieces and her nephews are just pieces of the layers.”  When he says this, he is saying that his grandmother prays for him intentionally, with dedication and it doesn’t stop just there she prays for her nieces and nephews.  Her love is shown because she goes directly to God on his behalf. She prays for him.

Honestly, when I listen to this song, I at times break into tears as I am reminded by my own grandmother, who prays for me, who cares for me, who has unconditional love for me, who is never hesitant to feed me, even if means she has to give me a couple of dollars because she hasn’t been to the grocery store to fill her fridge.  I am reminded of my aunt, Vastine, who was in many ways an additional grandmother, that we lost in 2017.  I am reminded of her love for me and her many nieces and nephews.  I am reminded how she loved me enough to continually pray for me and my cousins.  I remember her love for me and all of my family, as she did not have a child of her own, but yet we all felt her motherly love. I remember her loving arms, her caring hands, and her praying was intentional.  But in her I saw modeled for me a piece of God’s love.  We would all be so lucky as if we were to see a portion of God’s love in the eyes of our grandmother, in the prayers of our grandmother, in the gesture of that Sunday Candy.  And at the end of this week, we see that as Sha’Carri celebrated being one of the fastest women in the world, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the first thing she did was run to her grandmother.  Because she knew her grandmother’s love, she knew her grandmother stayed up late at night in her prayer closet, with her as the thesis of her prayers.  Because her grandmother has a deep love for her.  She knows that sacredness of that Sunday Candy.

But what does the love of a grandmother have to do with our scripture? What does the love a grandmother have to do with what God is saying to us this morning?  What does Sunday Candy have to do with any of it?  Well the we see that the psalmist rejoices that God has turned our mourning into dancing, and through God sackcloth has been removed and replaced by being clothed in joy.  We have a tangible example of this as we think about relationships with grandma and receiving Sunday Candy.  Because in the love of a grandmother we are prayed over and cared for throughout our mourning.  She is determined to make sure we are clothed in joy, it is the thesis of her prayers.  Her love pushes to make it happen.

 III. We Should Have Unconditional Love For One Another

However, what we really need to see comes from our Old Testament lesson.  We see here that David has found out about the death of Jonathan and Saul.  David greatly loved Jonathan and Saul, his love was unconditional.  But what we need to understand is that the relationship, at least, between Saul was extremely strained.  Saul was the King, and yet God was so displeased with Saul’s rule, that God had chosen someone other than his son to secede him.  That means that Saul’s legacy would end with him.  So he hated David.  Saul wanted David dead. And yet, David still loved him.  David had an unconditional love that called for not just his own mourning, but the mourning of the whole nation.  David had a love that can only be compared to that of a grandmother, whose love is directed toward us even if we don’t deserve it.  It is like that love that make us the thesis to her prayers even when we have been awful, she wants the best for us.  In her love we are given that Sunday Candy.  But there is something that we learn here.  God is saying to us this morning that our love should be like that of David and that of a grandmother, it should be a love that is almost matchless, a kind of love that is unconditional, inconsequential, without change, big and wide, with passion, something that is only surpassed by God’s love, but at the same time shows us a piece of God’s love.  We should love people so much that we are willing to mourn for them, pray for them, that they are the thesis to our prayers, we are willing to show them a piece of God’s love, and introduce them to the God we know.  In this, we learn how to live life as the people of God, as people that are dedicated to the works of Christ within the world.  In this we learn that we are to love one another, we are to love people even when they have done wrong, we are to love those who dislike us, we are to love those who are rejected, we are to love those who are sinful, we are to love those who are not like us, we are to love those that are like us, we are to love those that are near to us, we are to love those who are far away from us.  We are to love one another.  And each and everyone of them should be the thesis of our prayers.  We should intentionally go to God for their betterment and thankful for their very being.  We should offer up a symbol of our love, to show it actively, just like our grandmother’s do when we ask for that Sunday Candy.  Because when we show our love, we are allowing people to see the love of God at work in the world.  Let us step out into the world and share the love of Jesus Christ everywhere we go, with whomever we meet.  Amen.