Saturday, April 17, 2010

Preaching Imagination, Acts 2

Here are today's reflections. This is the theological heart of the sermon, the next move. These are impressions, not yet sermon words, though many of these impressions will make the final cut. I'm interested in what they inspire in you, where they send you, what images and impressions they evoke.

God raised Israel's messiah from the dead. This that you see and hear is the work of God, the result of raising this Jesus from the dead, seating him at the right hand of God in glory and handing over to him the kingdom. God has made Israel's messiah, Lord of all, giving him the authority to pour out the Spirit, the effective power of the Kingdom of God.

This that you see and hear is God's keeping his promise to Abraham, that through Abraham all the nations of the earth will be blessed. It's what Mary and Zechariah sang about under the influence of the Holy Spirit,

he has shown mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our ancestor Abraham.

This is God guaranteeing the world's future through Israel's messiah. Through Jesus, who pours the Spirit out on the 12, on Peter and James and John--and Mathhias, the freshly minted apostle, completer of the 12, the newest representative of the new Israel.

Jesus, pouring out the Spirit in Jerusalem, the city of David, Zion, God's holy mountain--not in Rome or Alexandria or Abilene or Searcy. Jerusalem. (more here)

And this has happened in the presence of devout Jews--devout Jews from every nation under heaven. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, oh my! God has placed devout Jews, people like Simeon and Anna in every corner of the globe, so that through Israel and the announcement of Israel's messiah, every nation on earth will be blessed.

This is God keeping this improbable story alive. This is God keeping faithfulness, breathing life in a story left for dead, raising it up, bringing it back to life, time and time again.

And here in a decisive way, in a way that leaves no doubt. In Israel's worst moment, putting to death God's annointed, the one attested by God through signs, deeds, wonders, in this lowest moment, God's greatest affirmation. He raised Israel's messiah from the dead and enthroned him forever, securing once and for all Israel's central role in the promise of God for all the world. Once and for all consoling Israel, redeeming Jerusalem, and through this, saving all nations.

This is the day that Simeon and Anna longed for, a line drawn by the Holy Spirit directly from their hearts to Pentecost. This is God's emphatic "yes" to all human longing for more, for fuller, for poured out, for extravagant mercy, for life without the threat of death, for the great and glorious day of the Lord.

1 comment:

Lisa Gonzales-Barnes said...

Here are some images that draw a longing that comes from a deeper place than can be described with words. This longing feels as though it is being drawn from a dark well that is buried in the center of God's being.

It comes when I hear and see geese flying south. They are leaving a cold and hard place for something warmer, something gentler. I long for this too.

It comes when I encounter a starving and unkempt cat that purrs around my legs and hungrily reaches for nourishment. It desires health and life despite living in a dying body. I desire this too.

It comes as I caress the face of a hospice patient who is laboring to breathe through oxygen tubes. She knows death is near but there is a longing to live in a better way. I long for this too.

It comes when I sit with those whose loved one is now dead. They know that death is part of the human experience, but they wish it were otherwise. They feel the pain of this knowledge, and so do I.

It is a longing that feels deeply the groaning desire for redemption, for health, for well-being, for peace, for justice. It is that longing for a better body, a better mind, a better heart, a better will, a better place to be in.

It is the longing for Eden restored, for the mountain of God, for Jerusalem and the reign of a king in a kingdom that offers what is better than what is.

It is the longing that wants to fall into the center of God and drink from that dark well of healing and restoration. And in the longing of it for myself, I desire it for the other as well.