Hiiiiiiii. Today we review the council of two kings and how they take difficult advisement from a pesky prophet. I love today's reading for a number of reasons which I'll speak on more at the bottom but I think you will find that it's a fun and engaging read and even funny at times! So I invite you to take a deep breath in and out as you prepare to listen for the Spirit of God as you read God's word.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
How do I handle constructive criticism? Do I have someone in my life that can be an accountability partner and not just an encourager?
What, if anything, feels applicable to today? What does it challenge me to do in response?
- My Thoughts -
I love this reading for like 9385734985749385743 reasons but I mostly feel really comforted by the prophet Miciah, who in modern terms speaks "truth to power." He says the uncomfortable things but does so in an act of love. I love how Rehoboam challenges his contemporary to be willing to hear from those that even upset you and not just those that give you the answer you want. In a social media era in which we can easily "unfriend" or "unfollow" people that piss us off or who think differently than us, that message from Rehoboam felt like a good punch to the gut for me who definitely unfriended about 400 people this last election season.
But the real reason I love this message is because of how I think it speaks to church and the core problem with church today. We have made church so much about "me". We come to church wanting to leave feeling good about ourselves, feeling inspired and positive and all those happy emotions. We don't like to talk about sin, or repenting, or confession, or anything too "political" or challenging. It's a reason the prosperity driven churches are so big and the social action churches tend to struggle or fluctuate with membership. We want the British blue eyed Jesus who seduces our souls with that cheeky smile and softly picks us up to the backdrop of an orchestra in mercy and forgiveness. We don't like the Jesus that talks about the chaff being burned, the goats being separated and killed, and the tables of the temple flying in righteous fury. Consider the difference in attendance between a good Friday and an Easter Sunday service to see how we feel about sin and atonement.
When I say we I truly mean we. I don't like a challenging sermon as much as you do, I especially hate delivering them! Making enemies at the church isn't the most fun part of my job (nor good for job security) but when I'm held accountable to your favor or God's....frankly I'm always going to lean on the side of God. Even in my best efforts I still get it wrong sometimes and I'm grateful for the times when you all correct me gently. Miciah reminds me of Gustavo Gutierrez, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr, or even our own resident bishop Tracy Smith Malone who all invoke the action of faith into powerful homiletics to inspire their congregations for change at the cost of their own likability.
Who in your life can be the accountability partner for you?
Praying the Hymns
I have a feeling you might know this hymn as our hymn for today is "O Little Town of Bethlehem". I invite you to hum, sing, or meditate to the song as you conclude this time of study with God.
(When you can pick the King's College version, you do)
1 O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
2 For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond’ring love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth! And praises sing—let “Glory!” ring with peace to all on earth!
3 How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of the heav’ns. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in.
4 O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray, cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.