1. Deuteronomy 4, 32-34 and 39-40
- Ask now! Moses
is challenging his listeners to appreciate the wonders of the Exodus. I cannot
miss the message, being passed on through the church to our own time, that the God of Israel (who is the God of Jesus) acts
on our behalf. The mystery of the Trinity that we celebrate today is rooted in
this God who is always present, revealing to us, sharing with us, delivering us.
- I think that even the most distracted reading could not fail to bring the point home. Listen to all the prodigies, heaped upon each other: the voice
in the midst of fire, testings, signs
and wonders, war, terrors.
- Israel does not merely believe in the God who created man upon the earth. God is always with them, with strong hand and outstretched arm. How can it be a question of
belief? The signs are all around them, especially their family forebears and
their deliverance before your very eyes.
Did anything so great ever happen before?
- This passage was meant to be spoken. Twice we are told to ask, and twice the speaker says, Was it ever heard of?
- Moses tells the people that they must witness to what they have
seen and heard. Faith is not the same as awe and wonder. You must now know and fix in your heart. When others have forgotten or do not see, we will remember and tell it.
- Central theme: God is for us.
All this the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes.
- Message for our assembly: God is here in our midst today. The Lord is God
and gives you the land forever. And
when we learn and keep his statutes and commandments we acknowledge that presence.
- I will challenge myself: To understate this powerful message, letting
the spectacle speak for itself.
2. Romans 8, 14-17
- The apostle never preached a distant, abstract God (like the Masonic triangle) but one who was present with his convert
communities in the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit that Jesus promised. This letter
is filled with such reminders. I am reading perhaps the most famous of them now.
- The apostle’s points flow easily. I don’t plan to divide any
of the phrases with a pause.
- He treads a constant tightrope between God’s generous invitation to salvation and our cooperation
in response. In fact, the passage begins with cooperation: Those who are led by the Spirit of God assumes that they also recognize and follow the Spirit. I would place my emphasis on ‘Spirit.’
- I hear the word fear but I do not hear its opposite, ‘exuberance’
or ‘joy.’ What does it matter?
When I cry Abba, Father! I
can reflect this change in outlook.
- Not a spirit of slavery but a spirit
of adoption. Again, God does not lead us to subjection, into the back kitchen
or even the guest house, but welcomes us with open arms into the household itself.
- God teaches us how to live our faith in a family. We cry, Abba! Father! The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- The message for our assembly: This is what it means to follow Christ: Joint
heirs, if only we suffer with him. And our suffering is redeemed if we do
it with him.
- Climax: Those heartening words that bind us to God as Father. Have we retained something of the child in us that we can say the word like grateful children?
- I will challenge myself: To persuade my listeners patiently, with the same inviting approach the apostle uses, without
overkill. If the words are spoken by someone who knows the Father, they will
Gospel. Matthew 28, 16-20
- We do not have too many direct references to a trinity in the scriptures, but we have one here. In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. If I say it in a perfunctory way no one will hear
me or it will sound like a time-worn slogan.
- All through this Easter cycle I have heard various traditions report the command of Jesus to his disciples. Luke says to preach forgiveness. John says to forgive sins. Here Matthew says to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them.
- Why do the disciples doubt? Can
I identify with that? Can I convey something of the mystery of the risen Christ
to my congregation?
- Behold, I am with you always. So Christ did not disappear after these appearances. Again
we are in the realm of belief.
- Climax: The commission to make disciples.
- Message for our assembly: Christ is close to us, and God is manifest in him.
Let us take up the commission.
- I will challenge myself: To speak out a familiar passage for a people in need of re-commissioning.