This is the third post in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the "Great Ends of the Church". Here's the plan. Today's scriptures are Psalm 29, Ezekiel 3:12-21, and Luke 9:18-27. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)
Verse 7 says, "the voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire." In terms of the upcoming Pentecost Sunday I'm intrigued by Psalm 29's varied expressions of the voice of the Lord and how that relates to proclamation of the gospel. St. Francis of Assisi has a famous quote, "preach the gospel always, use words if necessary." As we are called to proclaim I wonder if we limit how we do that or what proclamation even means. Is a casserole delivery or a hug just as much proclamation as any sermon? I think it is, but in a different way. In our world that is ever changing and the lecture style of communication is waning, how do preachers and the church own and intentionally proclaim the gospel to the world?
Wow! No pressure! God lifts Ezekiel and takes him to live with exiles to tell him that if he doesn't proclaim God's word to people they will die and so will he. Yikes! It makes me think of that Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." It seems that God is telling Ezekiel if you here something from me, you MUST share it, even if it's not going to be easy. That's a challenge. How to tell people things without them thinking you're a self-righteous jerk or crazy. I know that's a little extreme, but as someone who stands in a pulpit and proclaims the gospel weekly it's hard.
"Who do you say that I am?" That's a tough question. If you look in the media it might appear that Jesus is judgmental, hateful, violent, and aggressive. There's a saying, "You might be the only Jesus someone ever meets." As we proclaim the gospel our actions do the talking, if we say one thing on Sunday morning and do something else on Monday that says something about we say Jesus is. Those that are able to be consistent every day of the week are the one's Christ is talking about in verse 27, "But truly I tell you, there are standing here who will not tast death before they see the Kingdom of God." The Kingdom of God is around us always and we can have glimpse of it, if we look and we can share that message with all we meet.