At Wednesday’s morning worship service, the Rev. Dwight D. Andrews told the congregation to stop compartmentalizing their lives. He told them he had often compartmentalized his musical life from his preaching life. At the 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning worship service in the Amphitheater, he practiced what he preached and played a chorus of “Precious Lord” on his soprano saxophone before preaching.
“You all are breaking me out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I don’t do this at home, but I might start now.”
Andrews’ sermon title was “What a Fool Believes” and the Scripture texts were Psalm 14 and Luke 12:13-21.
Andrews’ grandfather was an itinerant Baptist preacher with small congregations around Detroit. His mother had to spend all day in church with her father, and she raised her kids to attend Sunday school — but not necessarily church — and they did not have to go every week.
“My grandfather had a Scripture he quoted often, Luke 9:25: ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’ ”
The “wise” fool in the Scripture was a rich man who had too many things.
“I tried very hard to put it out of my mind, but I kept thinking of Donald Trump,” Andrews said. “He is quick to remind us how much stuff he has. ‘Vote for me, I’m rich.’ ”
The rich man in the Scripture had planned for a good harvest. His main problem was storage. His solution was to build more barns, more places to hold all his foodstuffs.
“We have so much stuff we don’t know where to put it all,” Andrews said. “It is like a religion — we judge by the number of our acquisitions. We have a big screen TVs, not one, but many, all going in multiple rooms at once but we can only watch one.
“We give little thought to our abundance [in other ways],” he continued. “My dream, my barns, my possessions. He understood life in terms of his possessions, and that is why he was a fool. He told his soul to relax, but it was idolatry to think he had control. He was a fool because the grain came from God. He thought it was his stuff for his use, and he never wrestled with the possibility of giving some to someone in need.”
According to Andrews, society knows that everyone should have clean water, but the public wants to control who gets it.
“We want everyone to know what we have,” he said. “God said to the rich man, ‘You don’t know it, but tonight you might be called away.’ The man was a fool to believe in what he saw and not understand that everything comes from God.”
Andrews acknowledged that he took his sermon title from the Doobie Brothers’ song “What a Fool Believes.”
“It is a sad love song with a nice dance beat,” he said. “The words, when I listened to them, are about a man who loves a woman who never loved him in the first place. She will never return because she was never there. If what we believe is what we see, it is folly. It is the opposite of faith. I am becoming more and more a fool for Christ. I want to see the world not with my eyes but with my heart. I want to believe that all things are possible through Christ.”
Some people believe it is foolish to have a variety of music like the congregation experienced that morning, Andrews said.
“We had toe-tappers, and quiet music, and some of you were clapping on [beats] one and three as well as two and four,” he said. “It was a cultural collision but we will work on it.”
Andrews then showed the congregation that the deacons in the black church walk on beats one and three but clap on two and four.
“I am fool enough to believe that you can learn to do this,” he said.
The congregation agreed, laughing and applauding.
“In my dream world, in God’s house, we can have it all at once,” Andrews said. “We can have the contemporary music, and we can learn the traditional hymns, and we can remember that it all comes from the spirituals. It is important to know each of them. We all have different ways of preaching, praying and singing, and I am committed to seeing the value of the differences.”
A “fool by faith” sees what is not there yet.
The Civil Rights Movement was made up of people who dreamed of what was not yet — education, housing, fair employment practices. The fool asks what is next and improvises.
“Fools prepare for God to use us in ways we don’t know,” Andrews said. “When we are all in God’s house, we appreciate and find the harmony in differences. So how do we get there? We have not yet devised a plan to go the next step to create the present that has not yet arrived.”
His answer was to teach and nurture.
“I like Bach and Beethoven because I was weaned on it,” he said. “If we want people to appreciate music, we better give them an instrument and take them to concerts. How can someone love hip-hop if they have never heard it? How can they like ballet or opera if they think that is someone else’s music?
“We have to dream and prepare for the world we want to see,” Andrews continued. “There were people who said that Barack Obama would never be president because he is African-American. But there were people foolish enough to think it could happen. There were people who said the schools in the South would never be desegregated, but there were people foolish enough to think it could happen.”
Act a fool for God, today, he said.
“Don’t see with your eyes. Dare to believe in what is not yet,” Andrews said in conclusion. “What a fool believes, he sees in his heart.”
The Rev. Susan McKee presided. The Rev. Thomas Peters, a Presbyterian minister and member of the Motet Choir, read the Scriptures. The prelude was “Suite” by Johann Amberg and featured Barbara Hois, flute, Rebecca Scarnati, oboe, Debbie Grohman, clarinet, and Willi La Favor, piano. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the Motet Choir. The choir sang “Send Down Your Spirit, Lord” by Nancy Price and Don Besig. Virginia Oram was the soloist.
The Edmund E. Robb-Walter C. Shaw Chaplaincy supports this week’s services.