I’m going to start this morning with two asides. First, every once in awhile I need to preach a message that is directly in contrast with what I just said in the children’s sermon. This is one of those times. I don’t like to do this often because it feels like I’m saying kids can’t understand and most of the time kids CAN understand. It’s just in this case, I think we need both messages. Kids need to hear that God loves them and cares for them and watches over them. Adults want to hear that, too. But part of growing up is putting aside a childish faith, even as we strive after a child-like faith. This means acknowledging a broken world of sin where the lions often seem to win. This is the angle from which I’m going to approach today’s message. So, basically, some of you will prefer the children’s message, which is fair enough.
Secondly, I’ve preached on this story once before. I’ve been here long enough that now we’re going back through the lectionary for a second time, reading the same stories from four years ago. So, naturally, I go back and see what I preached on four years ago, and, on a Thanksgiving week like this, it was awfully tempting to see how much you remember from a sermon four years ago titled, “Just Hope: King Darius’ Long Night.” I don’t doubt it has been frequent bedtime reading for you all ever since. Thus, I present to you: “Just Hope: King Darius’ Long Night (Revisited).”
OK, let’s get to business.
King Darius has a problem. He likes Daniel. Daniel was his personal dream interpreter, which was for Daniel, as it had been for Joseph once upon a time, a lucrative career that got him into the royal house. Daniel is well-liked, but he is also Jewish. This was not such a popular thing to be in ancient Persia, especially with Daniel in a political role that the other presidents and satraps were looking to undermine. This is a story that reminds us that religious motivations have been used as a cover for political ambitions across the wide span of history.