Thursday, April 15, 2010

Preaching Imagination, Acts 2

So, here are the rough, initial stabs at the opening of a sermon. There are places where the language needs to be fuller, where I am still looking for images. Maybe you can help.

Recite the text.

The word of the Lord.

And as far as words of the Lord go, not too shabby. If texts are mountains, this is a Himalaya no matter how you measure it. And fortunately for us, this is one of our texts. It’s the text, after all, that we list on our birth certificate in Churches of Christ. It says on the cornerstone, “This building erected 1954, this church established 33 AD.” Acts 2. It’s our text. We are, proudly and for good reason, Acts 2 Christians.

I saw you mouthing the words when we got to verse 38. Brothers, what shall we do. Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized”…and some other stuff…"and 3,000 were added that day to the church.”

So great. Doesn’t that make you want more? Create some longing for a day like that, for some Pentecost? Gotta get me some Pentecost.

Repent and be baptized. These words are so central to this chapter. What else is there to do in the wake of the appearing of the great and glorious day of the Lord? Repent. Which is different than, “Be your best self now!” This is “turn!” A new world has arrived, one spinning in a different direction that the world afforded us by other Lords. There’s simply no way to continue in the same direction and welcome this new world. Repent.

And make no mistake about it, the appearing of a new world is what this day is all about. These men aren’t drunk. This is God’s word through the prophet Joel come to life. The great and glorious day of the Lord. The pouring out of power from on high—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead poured out on sons and daughters, young and old, slaves both male and female (in case you missed it). And with it a new dispensation of speech. A day when the gospel becomes the universal language of the whole world, when everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

And this day has lived in the hearts of some for a long time. Lived in their hearts like an ache. Like a key change. Like … (help me here)

People like Simeon, whose old, watery eyes were looking for the consolation of Israel. It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would see God’s anointed one—the one who would end their long humiliation at the hands of other powers, and bring Israel back to the center of God’s redemptive purposes for all nations. Listen to him. You can hear the weight of his longing, “My eyes have seen your salvation! A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to your people Israel.”

Or Simeon’s counterpart Anna. A prophet, Luke calls her, of great age, living in the temple, praising God and preaching to anyone who will listen about the redemption of Jerusalem. 84 years of anticipation for the day when Jerusalem would rise above every hill and become the mountain of the Lord’s instruction for the nations. Her eyes creased with the wrinkles of a life spent fasting and praying night and day out of a hunger to sing with full throat, “Zion, o glorious Zion!”

Simeon and Anna, filled with the Holy Spirit, living, breathing billboards for the future, forerunners of Pentecost, a prophesying son and daughter, harbingers of a new day, desire set deep in their hearts for more, for more—a new day bursting with all the promise of God.


Anonymous said...

It lived in their hearts like flowers in the dead of winter, anticipating and being prepared for spring. I say "being prepared" rather than "preparing" because the waiting process was about waiting for God to do something - not about them making it happen themselves. We get to grow, to open, to bloom - but it's God's Spirit that works the miracle. I anticipate that blooming moment. Sometimes I get glimpses of it - but here on this earth, maybe that's just what we get - glimpses. Although I do believe the church should be where we best get the glimpse, and for me, it's where I least glimpse what I hope for. -sara b

Anonymous said...

another one - it's always about nature for me - John 15-
It lived in their hearts like a first protruding bump of a bud on a vine, a small little twig that would one day be a strong vital part of the vine, a branch that would one day bear fruit - connected to the vine which gives growth and sustains the branch to bear fruit. -sara b

Mark Love said...

perfect, thanks sara

Keith Brenton said...

like a desert thirst
like coming home for a soldier

Eric Livingston said... the day the snow started melting in Narnia when Aslan was on the move.

Mark Love said...

Yes, thank you. Keep them coming.


nlove said...

I long for these things: in the loosing, something is found - new life! be brave enough to live "day by day" and to KNOW that I will be provided for "day by day" - and to know the promise isn't just for me - I long for "sons and daughters" to live in the truth now. The image that really comes to me is from Psalm 46 when the earth gives way, waters roar and mountains quake - but then finally "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells." ... and my soul rests

you know what I think already - but maybe these were new


Cheryl Russell said...

Like cool water on a dry parched throat.

Like the words "It's a boy!" to an impatient new mama.

Like the words "She's gonna make it." to an anxious family.

adam hill said...

Like the humbling and vivifying realization that your life really mattered, that your hope was not wasted, that somehow amidst all of the upside down and inside out choices, you managed somehow to find what your real meaning in life was and see it materialize right in front of you.

There is little as powerful and terrifying as watching God's providence happen in front of your eyes. It is much safer, much more run of the mill to see it in the rear-view mirror comforting yourself with God's guiding hand through your past to lead you to where you are now. But when that hand opens in front of you and God's kingdom happens in undeniable real time, it is so extraordinary that it usually makes us tremble with fear, then dance with joy (if we don't run away).

Mark Love said...

cheryl and adam

thanks for adding to the conversation. well worth the wait.