Daily Lectionary Reflection, Friday, July 10

Isaiah 48:6-11

“From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known….” Is. 28:6

Isaiah receives a promise from God to hear new things. Notice these are not novel things to God. They are things Isaiah, and presumably all of Israel, have yet to be told. One might have thought that all that God had to say had been said at Mt. Sinai to Moses. As I’ve said before, the prophets were not radicals, preaching a progressive agenda, but traditionalists pushing Israel to return to that old, old story found in the first five books of the Old Testament. Now, thousands of years later, God has something new-to-them to reveal. God has a Word for this moment.

Consider, what God may have to say to you today? What new thing God might have for you to hear? It may not be original, never been heard before, but it will be new to you. God’s voice doesn’t bounce around in an echo chamber of scripture but resonates within the world, with it a sense of wonder, awe, and beauty. Let those with ears to hear, hear a Word from God today.

Be warned though, if you sense God telling you something so new, so unbelievable, so avant garde, that it is not God but something else. Listen to the promptings of the Spirit, search the scriptures, and see what the community of faith has to say before claiming a new word from God. The guardrails of our faith keep us from falling into heresy and hypocrisy.

Romans 15:14-21

20 Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation,” Rms 15:20

The Apostle Paul draws his lengthy letter to an end with an explanation as to what he is up to. He reminds his listeners of his calling, an apostle to the gentiles, and why he does such work, that is for the sake of Christ. As I read this, I think, Paul didn’t live in the South for who in the South, let along America, hasn’t heard Christ named? Seems to me there are so many foundations, and half-built houses of faith, speaking metaphorically that is, that the apostle may just leave or never visit America at all. Many Christians in America opt to freely pick and choose which church they will attend for a moment, before moving on to the next. The experience is only as good as it is new, and not stale. Once boredom becomes a temptation, then on to the next house of faith. So many unfinished foundations of faith, some by Calvin, some by Wesley, some by Aquinas, some by Olsteen, some by Stanley, and none of them have an exact fit to each other, what would Paul say?

Even as so many have heard Christ named, as Paul puts it, one must agree that the current state of the United States, though viewed by many as a Christian Nation, resembles anything but a Christian Nation. Perhaps, Paul has a more significant understanding of what it means to hear Christ named, that we do. We name Christ but only as a cultural artifact, not as the living, resurrected Son of God.

I wonder if Paul wouldn’t tell us that the real work of evangelism in America, isn’t street preaching, or tracts, or memorized monologues littered with verses. Rather, it is discipleship. It is the long road of building up a faith, in a community, founded on the Prince of Peace, Lord of All, Jesus the Christ. Perhaps Paul would remind us that discipleship is filled with daily practices of prayer, scripture, service, and above all love. Discipleship sits at the heart of renewal for the Church in America. Forget about sanctifying a nation for the purposes of faith, seek first Christ, in the church, strengthen bonds of love, and live in unity. Perhaps with such a foundation, the nations, including America, will see the body of Christ and turn to the God in praise and thanksgiving.

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