Live the Good News (May 7, 2012)

…Opening To…

The purpose of the worship of God is to help us see our dependence on God and the vast resources that God wants to lavish on our lives. (Ian S. Markham)

…Listening In…

Jesus did many other things as well. If all of them were recorded, I imagine the world itself wouldn’t have enough room for the scrolls that would be written. (John 20:25; context)

…Filling Up…

Our fourth moment of our typical worship service is really several moments stitched together. In a standard service, we read several items from the Bible, and then a preacher delivers a sermon inspired by something in one of the readings. Rather than giving the sermon its own moment, we weave it together with the readings because the two shouldn’t be separated. We call the readings “The Word of the Lord,” and we hope to hear a message that is a word from the Lord. Faithful preaching is a mysterious mixture of study, prayer, listening, and proclaiming, all wrapped in trust that the Holy Spirit is present in the spoken word so that the lowly words of the preacher might be elevated into lofty inspiration from God.

But let’s back up a step and look at the readings. In a typical service, we read a lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures (often called the “Old” Testament), a portion of one of 150 psalms (which were basically the hymnal to the ancient Hebrews), a lesson from the New Testament (usually part of a letter written to a church or a person), and a lesson from one of the four accounts of the Gospel. We bring the Gospel into the midst of the people as an example for what the Gospel calls us to do; that is, to bring the Good News (which is what “Gospel” means) out into the world through our proclamation, our service, and our love.

The sermon follows the readings not only because its purpose is to elucidate them, but also because the sermon shows that the Word of God is still alive. The sermon takes the passages from the Bible, which have been set for nearly 2,000 years, and shows what happens when the Holy Spirit encounters us through the text. In each sermon, the Holy Spirit breathes new life, new interpretation, new interactions between us and the Word. Every sermon, therefore, is a life-giving engagement with God’s Word, with God’s Good News.

Thus, our fourth moment is about meeting God in the ancient text, which is just as alive now as it was 2,000 years ago. Because it is alive, it can seep into our beings and dwell within us, animating us to be God’s messengers to a world sorely in need of good news.

…Praying For…

Dear God, your Son Jesus continues to move in our lives and continues to write his good news on the vellum of our hearts; help me to be one of the scrolls that he is writing, that the world may be filled with your message of love and hope. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, glad to have the opportunity to worship you freely and to bring my weekend worship into my weekday life.

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