In the midst of the summer, I’m not sure I’m back in the saddle of posting weekly on this blog, so please bear with me! Schedules have been different lately. We worshipped outdoors on July 3, and then I was away for two weeks while attending the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly in Nashville, TN followed by a weekend getaway to the Finger Lakes in NY. It was good to be back preaching yesterday.
With this year’s General Assembly theme of “Tell It” still resonating in my head and heart, it was yesterday’s sermon theme as well. I referenced Dr. Fred Craddock in my message, and I’d hoped to use a clip in worship. Since that didn’t work out, if you’d like to hear his voice for yourself, click on http://www.disciples.org/GeneralAssembly/Video/tabid/888/Default.aspx (Craddock’s message begins about 38:37 into the video). Craddock is speaking to our reticence to speaking aloud and our dependence on the written word rather than the spoken word. What we would miss if our oral culture disappeared!
It is ironic then to be writing a blog about people’s reluctance to speak aloud! I am aware and grateful that many of us want to walk the walk, showing God’s love and being Christ’s hands and feet in the world. It is certainly our call to be out there making a difference in the world. I am also aware that far fewer of us want to talk the talk! You’ll hear Dr. Craddock say that while it is important for us to perform deeds, he makes the point that speaking aloud of God’s love is the greatest deed we can perform. When Dr. Craddock preaches, I listen. But it’s more than that — it’s what Jesus did and we are called to be like him.
Yesterday’s text was perfect preparation for learning how to tell it. [Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52] In a rapid fire rush of five different images, unlike Jesus’ usual storytelling style, he describes what the presence of God feels like. Jesus doesn’t let us settle on any one image, rather I think he is giving us options for what that might be like in order for us to begin thinking about what God’s kingdom is like for us.
What has it been like for you as God has accompanied you through life? What were some moments like? What was hidden from view and now uncovered? What was right there in front of you and you didn’t see it? What makes an experience of God better than anything you can buy at the mall or find on the Internet or watch on TV? What has grown in you that you didn’t even realize was there and now you ca’t imagine your life without it? When were you lost and how were you found? When did just the right someone appear at just the right moment to help you find your way?
What story could you tell? No one can tell your experience of God as you can tell it. Jesus can lead, teach, and save us, and yet even Jesus can’t describe what is personal to us. I think that’s why he put so many options out there for us to consider. Maybe it’s like that for you and maybe it’s like smething else entirely.
I’m not finished with this theme of Tell It. I’m praying about how we can come to be a people who tell stories. Out loud. With others listening.
So, let’s start talking. Who knows? It might be an easier exercise than we anticipate it to be.
Blessings for your week ahead
[corresponding sermon is podcast at http://www.disciples.org.]