Monday, December 10, 2012

Messengers and Messages

          Messengers. Messages. I am going to ask you, this morning, to reflect on how you receive “messages,” and who has “messages” for us, messages from family, from friends, from your pastor, from our politicians, and…from God. The other side of this may be the content of those “messages.” What’s different in the messages we receive from our friends and family than what we receive from strangers, our pastor…or God?
          Malachi in Hebrew can be literally translated as “my messenger.” Some scholars call Malachi the “Messenger of Jehovah.” Let’s just agree to settle on “messenger.”
          Luke’s gospel about John the Baptist begins by describing him as a “messenger,” a voice shouting, crying out in the wilderness…repent.
          Malachi and John were both prophets with a message from God. Both men were exhorting people to repent, to change, to be cleansed…refined, purified.  People “heard” their messages…many times.
          Today, in this time and place, we’re able to read…and hear the same message, this message to repent, be refined, to be purified. The “Voice” still shouts from the wilderness.
          One difference is that, today, the “message” is delivered through many different medias, books, email, Facebook messages, blogs, newspapers, and orally via the pulpit or podcasts or Youtube.  With all that diversity the “message” still calls us to change, to repent.
          Luke set the context of his “message” within the political environment of his day, Herod, Pilate, Tiberius, and Lysanius. He also included the religious powerbrokers of the day, Annas and Caiaphus.
          The “message” today is also delivered amid politicians who seek to “control” the world. The shouting from the wilderness comes to us from those with influential power in our various denominations as they try to discern what or who should be “in” or “out.” The “Voice” still…calls us to repent, to be refined, to be purified.
          Do we have ears to hear? Or…are they stopped up with wax (dogma or our very own paradigms)? Or can we only hear them if we go to the wilderness, away from the polluting noise of the world?
          Who are the messengers who’re shouting to us from the wilderness? Who are those calling us to repent, to be refined, to be purified? Can we hear their voices? Are we listening? Is the darkness being penetrated by their voices?
          Or…could we be the messengers God is using today?  That’s a scary thought isn’t it? Who’s listening to our voices? Who’s watching how we’re living? Who’s paying attention to our “message?” that can be real scary can’t it?
          There are so many questions and not enough straight answers. Maybe that’s why we need this season of the year to slow down, sit down in the dark, and listen and reflect on what we read and…hear from the “messengers.”
          Listen to one of our contemporary prophets…

The past is always brighter
when viewed from the depths
of the present.
Memories take on a rose tinted hue
when they are explored
from the safety of distance.
We have an amazing capacity
to filter out the dross
and capitalize on the glitz,
the ability to find glimmers of gold
in the muck and mud.
And our God is way ahead of us
already sifting,
scrubbing up the old and tired,
restoring to glory all that’s worth keeping,
bringing joy when least expected,
transforming all the familiar landscapes
with love,
and laughter,
and a baby’s cry.
Settling into the world
and upending everything
making it real
with the pangs of labor,
birthing new life and new hope
in the mess of the world.
Roddy Hamilton-Spill the Beans Issue 6

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