Special DOUBLE Pastor’s Post – August 28th & September 4th: “Out of Words?”
A PASTOR’S POST FOR AUGUST 28/SEPTEMBER 4, 2016: OUT OF WORDS?
Grace and peace to you and yours from God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
I lay awake part of the night last night, realizing that my post for the next two Sundays was due and frustrated that it felt like I had run out of words. I have no interesting stories to tell. I realized that one of my “points of pride” is trying to have something encouraging and helpful to say to the folks I serve as pastor, and somehow last night it felt like I was “out of gas.” But this morning I awoke with an idea that embraced this rather strange sense of not having something to say: don’t!
Instead the Holy Spirit gave me the idea of sharing in this post a few of the Bible passages that are personally important to me. And then it occurred to me that I was living out the Gospel reading for this Sunday (Pentecost 15, 8/28/16) which is about humility from Luke 14. On his way to Jerusalem and to the cross and resurrection, Jesus turns aside to dine at the home of a chief Pharisee – and the text says “they were watching him.” Jesus uses the occasion to do two things that probably made the big deal Pharisee regret his invitation – the invited gust probably became the regretted guest.
What Jesus does is heal a man with “dropsy” who has somehow shown up at this dinner party, and then teach (or attempt to teach) two parables of the wedding feast as metaphor for the Kingdom of God to the assembled guests. We get the one where Jesus urges humility. “Don’t choose the best place at the table because the master of the house may come and tell you to give up your seat to another who is more important. Rather choose the lowest place, so you may be invited higher.” Then comes the zinger: “Everyone who exalts himself humbled and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11). This business of humility is so tricky. Whenever you think you have it, you don’t! When you think you don’t maybe you do.
So instead of trying to think of something interesting, intelligent, or clever for me to say, maybe God has reminded me that it is more important to share what He has said to me in His Word. Here are three I committed to memory a very long time ago.
The first passage that comes to mind for me is my Confirmation passage (Romans 1:16-17): For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” As I remember that day in 1967 when I was confirmed at my church I see this passage as a touchstone for what I only later came to realize what God was calling me to do with my life.
Another that comes to mind and that has been formative for my understanding of who I am as a Christian is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
A third Bible passage that has been important to me is Psalm 23:1-4: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Like many people I’ve been through some difficulties in my life, and these words, memorized so long ago in Sunday School, have sustained me in faith and the love of God.
So what are your favorite Bible passages? Do you have any verses memorized? I think it would be interesting to invite some of our Shepherd’s Voice readers to share the Bible passages that are important to them in their Christian faith and why. Please consider this just such an invitation!
God’s blessings to you and yours on your Labor Day Holiday!
Pastor Joe Hughes
Voice & text: 217-898-9063 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org