This is the second 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, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14, and Acts 26:19-29. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)
I’m sitting here in Southeastern Nebraska on the banks of the Missouri river. I’ve seen pictures and heard stories about the flood a couple of years ago and how (to the folks here) it was caused not by the rain but by mismanagement of flow by the Army Corps of Engineers. I don’t know enough to know what happened, but I do wonder how someone who lived through that would read verse 10, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” Would they read that as comforting that even through the flood God is with them? Would they read it that God caused the flood to “teach” some kind of lesson? Did God cause the flood because God was mad or bored? Was God even around?
I do know that those floods caused the church I serve (First Presbyterian Church–Nebraska City) to begin feeding victims of the flood weekly which speaks to the great end of the church, “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” At least, I know that God was in the aftermath of the flood and I believe God was there all along.
2 Chronicles 5:2-14
Reading about how the Israelites brought the ark into the temple for the first time makes me thing about the great end, “the maintenance of divine worship” and how that can be a stumbling block for us. The story of the relationship between Israelites and God goes back to Genesis and it began with walking with Adam, then speaking with Abraham and Noah, etc. Then after God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt the ten commandments on tablets were made, then those were put into an ark, now that ark is being put into a temple. We have build temples all over the place to place our arks and sometimes I think in our zeal to maintain divine worship with have, to quote Richard Rohr, “anesthetized and weakened the actual transformative power of Christianity”.
I wonder if we worried less about our relics and more about the call from Christ, where that would lead us? Not to say that tradition is bad, per se, but when does maintenance inhibit expansion?
This is an obvious case of “proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.” I thought the end of verse 20 was interesting, “that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance.” (emphasis added) When we repent, or turn, or say we’re sorry, that should change our behavior and often when we change our behavior people notice. Whether that’s your friends and family complaining that you’ve changed or the world beginning to look at you differently. I believe when we truly proclaim the gospel to the world it changes us and the world. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right, plain and simple. If reading scripture and discussing the teaching of Christ doesn’t make you want to stand up and shout then I’m not sure we are reading the same gospel. I know that we will probably shout about different things, I’ll be shouting about systematic racism, I’ll be sharing about universal healthcare, I’ll be shouting about broken capitalist systems. I wonder what others will shout?
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