Sunday: A True Rhema

Last night, I watched “Sunday,” an episode of 7th Heaven from its seventh season. On it, Lucy Camden gives her first sermon.

Lucy is the middle daughter of the Camden family. Where I am right now in the series, she has graduated from high school and has met the man she will eventually marry. Her goal is to become a minister, following in her father’s footsteps.

In certain respects, she is a rather puzzling character. My impression is that she wants to be a minister primarily to help people, since she has often displayed a social activist streak. On an earlier episode, for example, she marched in support of women suffering under the Taliban. She says she is interested in God and theology, but I have rarely seen her discuss those things. On one episode, she went with her family to a Shabbat dinner held by Rabbi Glass, who was about to become Matt Camden’s father-in-law (Matt is the oldest Camden child). She didn’t display any interest in Judaism on that occasion. She didn’t even want to go. Her preoccupation was her ex-boyfriend, Robbie, who was living in the Camden household. Her sister Mary was at home, and she was afraid that Mary would steal Robbie from her. It was the youngest daughter, Ruthie, who asked good questions about Judaism. Perhaps Ruthie should be the minister.

But, anyway, “Sunday” was about Lucy’s first sermon, as well as a lot of other things. The father, Reverend Eric Camden, has just had open-heart surgery and is hesitant to re-enter ministry. Maybe he is burned-out. He’s certainly jealous of the young, educated, charismatic associate pastor, Dr. Chandler Hampton, who is filling in for him. The middle Camden son, Simon, wants to have sex with his girlfriend, Cecilia (played by superstar Ashley Simpson). And Lucy doesn’t like her fiance’s attractive female partner on the police force. “Have you ever seen a cop like her outside of Charlie’s Angels?” she asked, in her usual exasperated manner.

Throughout the episode, Lucy complains that people are not honoring Sunday as a day of rest, worship, and reflection. Eric and her fiancee are watching football. Ruthie is doing her homework. Her mother, Annie, is performing her obligations as a homemaker.

Later in the episode, in the church, Lucy is complaining to her fiancee about Chandler. She says that she should be in the pulpit, not him. My thought was, “Well, Lucy, you should get some education first. We don’t always get what we want right when we want it.” But Chandler happens to overhear her conversation, and he tells her to handle the service that night, at 7:00. Lucy was thinking what would go through my mind in that situation: “What will I speak about tonight? Can I come up with a sermon in so short a time?”

I was afraid that Lucy wouldn’t do too well, but another part of me expected her to give an excellent sermon. I had seen her speak in public before, particularly on the episode in which she was in high school, and she was on a discipline committee, and she had to vote on whether or not to punish her sister Mary for trashing the school gym. She gave a good speech then!

Well, she gave a good sermon on “Sunday.” She spoke about what had been gnawing on her throughout the episode: the need to honor Sunday as a day of rest, worship, reflection, and fellowship. She said that we do not spend time to enjoy one another or reflect on who we are or where we are going. Time flies by, and we try to find enjoyment in shallow things. She said that we may seek fulfillment in irresponsible sex, which convicted her brother Simon. And her statements about personal reflection even convicted her father Eric, who was listening from the lobby. He was hesitant to go hear her, since he was boycotting church at the time. But he went to hear his daughter and hid himself from everyone else. He had been avoiding church for about a month, and, after hearing Lucy’s sermon, he realized that he needed help. With tears in his eyes, he prayed to God, “Okay, you have me on my knees. I’ll get help.”

After her sermon, Lucy did not brag to Chandler about how well she did. “See, Chandler, I came up with that excellent sermon in a brief afternoon. I showed you, didn’t I? Perhaps I should be in the pulpit rather than you.” She didn’t say that. Rather, she apologized to him. Everyone was reconciling after the sermon, with each other and with themselves. Their attitudes and mindsets were reoriented, and they set themselves on the path of doing the right thing. Or, in Eric’s case, he sought the help he needed to get back on track.

The sermon was what a sermon should be. On the program, it was an example of a true rhema, a message from the Holy Spirit that can challenge, motivate, and transform us. It came from a burden that was on Lucy’s heart, making it an authentic expression rather than something she threw together in desperation. And it not only convicted Lucy’s audience, but Lucy herself, for she apologized to Chandler for her behavior. There was no pride in her sermon, for the word she preached was above her as well as everyone else.

Of course, as someone with a seventh-day Sabbatarian background, I don’t believe in the observance of Sunday. I can picture Adventists ranting against this episode, saying that it desensitizes the public to a National Sunday Law, which they view as the Mark of the Beast. But I liked the way that her sermon exemplified what a sermon should be: from the heart, authentic, devoid of pride, and transforming.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Sunday: A True Rhema

  1. FT says:

    I see you got Beverly Mitchell’s (Lucy) site linked on here. I would love to see you and her go on a date. 🙂 Jessica Biel…well, uh she’s everybody’s dream. I miss 7th Heaven myself (and my mom too, she loved Stephen Collins–Rev.Camden). I am P.O.ed that there is no spirituality themed shows on TV this season. Touched By An Angel is no more. Joan of Arcadia had the right to exist for a few more seasons and of course, it has been a year that 7th Heaven has been out of production. I hope this will change sometime soon.


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