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Chinny, Chin, Chin

Luke 21:5-19

The Rev. Jon Roberts

17 November


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down." They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!' and, `The time is near!' Do not go after them. "When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls."


The Three Little Pigs, James Orchard, 1886

When we mark, read and inwardly digest the Word of God, we build a strong house that will not be blown in; Through all the trials, by the end of the day not a hair on our head will be hurt; not even on our chinny, chin, chin.[1]

Once upon a time there were three little pigs and the time came for them to leave home and seek their fortunes. Before they left, their mother told them "Whatever you do, do it the best that you can because that's the way to get along in the world. The first little pig built his house out of straw because it was the easiest thing to do. The second little pig built his house out of sticks. This was a little bit stronger than a straw house. The third little pig built his house out of bricks. One night the big bad wolf, who dearly loved to eat fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in his house of straw. He said "Let me in, let me in, little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!" "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig. But of course the wolf did blow the house in and ate the first little pig. The wolf then came to the house of sticks. "Let me in, let me in little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in" "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig. But the wolf blew that house in too, and ate the second little pig. The wolf then came to the house of bricks. "Let me in, let me in" cried the wolf "Or I'll huff and I'll puff till I blow your house in." "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin" said the pigs. Well, the wolf huffed and puffed but he could not blow down that brick house. But the wolf was a sly old wolf and he climbed up on the roof to look for a way into the brick house. The little pig saw the wolf climb up on the roof and lit a roaring fire in the fireplace and placed on it a large kettle of water. When the wolf finally found the hole in the chimney he crawled down and KERSPLASH right into that kettle of water and that was the end of his troubles with the big bad wolf. The next day the little pig invited his mother over. She said "You see it is just as I told you. The way to get along in the world is to do things as well as you can." Fortunately for that little pig, he learned that lesson. And he just lived happily ever after![2]

This story is no fable when it comes to God’s earnest instruction for how we are to get along in the world. God has instructed us to mark, read and inwardly digest His Word so that not a hair on our head will be hurt, not even on our chinny, chin, chin. He has given it to us not only to resist the sly old wolf, but also in order that we may live happily ever after with Him in Heaven for eternity. God has given us much wisdom in Holy Scripture. It was seen in the Patriarchs, Prophets and Teachers who built many houses, some who tried to use straw, others who used sticks and then some who used bricks. Many endured hardships, trials and temptations. The sly old wolf tried to eat them all. God’s Word, found in Holy Scripture instructs us on how to live. If you read it, only, your house will be built out of straw. If you read and mark it, only, your house will be built out of sticks. But if you read, mark and inwardly digest, your house will be built out of bricks. There is no wonder that the Bible is the largest selling book in the history of mankind. It is the story of God and man. But all too often, it is kept on the bookshelf and collects dust.

Whenever the priest visits the home of a parishioner it is an awkward moment when they ask to see a copy but none is found. As Episcopalians, hopefully, at least there is a Prayer Book somewhere nearby. This is another reason why it’s important to remember we are people of The Book, and need to have Holy Scripture printed. The word of God is His wisdom being passed down to us. This is why we put the Good News in an ornate, shining casement with the engravings of the Evangelist, and process it down into the center of the people. When we read Holy Scripture we think, “Oh what a nice story,” or “That sounds familiar,” or perhaps, “That could apply today.” Later, we’ll here it again and wonder why it’s familiar. When we mark Holy Scripture we may underline the passages that apply to our life but do nothing more than that. We think, “Oh, I’ll mark it so I can go back and find it.” Later, we’ll look back and see a book filled with scribble and notes, bookmarks here and there. But when we read it, mark it and inwardly digest it, now we are testifying to how it applies in our life.

Our life as it is read and marked and sealed as a story which God takes delight in reading. Remain in the Word of God and toil until the end of the day to make it part of who you are. Do not be a mere busybody putting in your time. We also hear, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” and “do not weary in doing right.” [3] So build. Do not worship that which contains God’s Word, but be devout in being a house for God. Jesus speaks about this in the Gospel today. He says to those who were admiring how the temple was adorned with beautiful objects and precious gifts that, “not one stone will be left upon another” and all will be blown away.[4] When the trials come, and they will come, what kind of house, what kind of soul, will house the Living God? This is why it is important to have a strong house.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us come together to build on God’s Word and Sacrament today. When we come to the altar we find refuge and are not blown in, we are strengthened on the outside and within, all the way up to our chinny, chin, chin.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, The Three Little Pigs, London & New York, 1886.
[3] 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13
[4] Luke 21:5-19

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