Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” -John 1:3
For Christmas this year, I received a tremendous gift from one of our families. It is a sign for my office. On the sign it says, “Pastor Warning: Anything you say or do could end up in a sermon.”
I’ll be honest, that’s a fair warning. And isn’t it interesting that the very sign itself has ended up in one of our devotions?
Here’s what I can tell you about all this. Pastors, not just me, are constantly producing. I am certainly not complaining, I appreciate the opportunity, but between sermons, studies, retreats, conversations, newsletter articles, and devotions - there’s quite a bit of output there.
Now, what does that mean? That means that we are necessarily and perpetually looking for material, I guess the better way to put it would be to say that we are forever looking for inspiration.
Just for the sake of complete transparency, I am a clergy person who truly believes that material/inspiration can come from almost anywhere. Signs along the highway, statues in front of regional airports, comments from confirmands, letters to the editor, fly fishing, and hymnody from the 18th century are all fodder for rumination and eventual dissemination to the congregation.
And… I really don’t feel the least bit self-conscious about finding the Divine in such various and sundry places. According to scripture, I’m not out of line in the slightest. Indeed, as you see above even the Gospel of John was convicted that with Christ, “not one thing came into being.” Not one thing! Nothing, not “anything!” Yes indeed this is a “Tidings” about “anything” and maybe everything.
All kidding aside, it’s worth knowing, the world in which I live is dripping with evidence of Jesus. I have seen the Spirit at work, and it was such a sight to behold, I am continually on the look out. I believe in a creative and generative God who is still at work creating the most glorious aspects of this cosmos and God is incapable of making “anything” uninteresting… even and especially all of you.
So, yes, be forewarned, “Anything you say or do could end up in a sermon.” But rest assured, I’ll ask for permission before I actually mention your name publicly.
Speaking of which, I would like to dedicate this particular edition of the “Tidings” to my good friend Colin Murphy, a scholar and a gentleman who is not afraid to issue a challenge to his pastor.
Question for reflection: How do you see God at work in the world?
Yours in Christ,
Gracious Lord, you are our comfort and strength. You provide the wisdom to make meaning of the most daunting moments. You extend the grace that sustains when we falter. You offer the peace necessary to still the stormy waters of our soul. We owe everything to you, so we offer our heartfelt thanks and praise. We pray this prayer through the faith you provide, Amen.