August 9, 2015

Prophets use words to remake the world.  The world...was made in the first place by God’s Word...As their words enter the language of our communities, men and women find themselves in the presence of God, who enters the mess of human sin to rebuke and renew.  

Left to ourselves we turn God into an object...Prophets scorn this outcome... Micah... was a master of metaphor.  This means that he used words, not simply to define or identify what can be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or tasted, but to plunge us into a world of presence.  To experience presence is to enter that far larger world of reality that our sensory experiences point to but cannot describe...The realities that are Word-evoked are where most of the world’s action takes place.  These are no “mere words.”                                 

Micah 1-3
Listen people, all of what is Jacob’s sin?...All the sex and religion shrines in Judah...You led the daughters of Zion into trusting not God but chariots...Don’t preach, says the preachers, don’t preach such stuff.  Nothing bad will happen to us....If someone showed up with a good smile and glib tongue and told lies from morning to night---I’ll preach sermons that will tell you how you can get anything you want from God.  More money, the best name it--you’d hire him on the spot as your     preacher.... For as long as they’re well paid and well fed, the prophets preach, “Isn’t life wonderful!  Peace to all!”  But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon, their “God bless you” turns into “God damn you.”....

But me---I’m filled with God’s power, filled with God’s Spirit of justice and strength...Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidders, priests mass-marketing their teachings, prophets preach for high fees, all the while posturing and pre-tending dependence on God....Because of people like these, Zion will be turned back into farmland.  Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble and instead of the Temple on the mountain, a few scraggly scrub pines.    
Acts 28:10-28:31
We spent a wonderful 3 months on Malta....and then we came to Rome.  Friends in Rome heard we were on our way and came out to meet us...emotion-packed meetings as you can well imagine.  Paul brimming with praise, led us in prayers of thanksgiving....

Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together for a meeting at his house and told his story of what happened in Jerusalem and his need to appeal to Caesar.  “I did this not to accuse them of any wrongdoing or to get our people in trouble with Rome.  We’ve had enough trouble through the years that way.  I did it for Israel. I asked you to come and listen to me today to make it clear that I’m on Israel’s side, not against her.  I’m a hostage here for hope, not doom.” They said, “Nobody wrote warning us about you.  And no one has shown up saying anything about you... The only thing we know about the Christian sect is that nobody seems to a have anything good to say about it.”

They agreed on a time when Paul talked to them all day, from morning to evening, explaining everything in detail in order to persuade them all about Jesus by pointing out what Moses and the prophets had written about him.

Some of them were persuaded by what he said but others refused to believe a word of it.  When the unbelievers go cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted, “I have just one more thing to say to you.  The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet....You’ve had your chance.  The non-Jewish outsiders are next on the list.  And believe me, they’re going to receive it with open arms.”  

Paul lived for two years in this place during which he welcomed everyone who came to visit and explained everything about Jesus Christ.  His door way always open.