Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Midweek Moment

After sixteen years of preaching, I confess that I still get nervous every single Sunday that I get up to preach. I think a healthy dose of nerves is a good thing because it means that after all this time, the experience of preaching has not become rote and routine. I remain fully aware that interpreting God's word as a proclaimer in worship is always a very unique privilege. I was however, probably a bit more nervous this past Sunday as I shared about the biblical Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) who stands for those that have been rejected by society and culture for some reason and spoke about my own Zacchaeus - naming our son Davis and sharing with you his background as an orphan in China. If you weren't in worship, here's a link to the recorded version of the sermon, done at the 11am service. 

That particular sermon seems to have resonated with many of you. I received a lot of feedback on Sunday after each worship service as you shared personal experiences with me, and I have received several emails from folks this week continuing to offer stories about their own Zacchaeus. Many people wanted to name their own Zacchaeus for me. Others shared their experience of feeling rejected; of being a Zacchaeus. 

It is a privilege to hear from you about how the sermon impacted you personally. Every preacher loves when people remember what you say past Tuesday of the next week! More substantial for us preachers is finding out that an individual was moved to take some kind of action step in their own life regarding the impact of the preaching Word - that the preaching Word is transforming us from the inside out.

One of the last things I shared in the sermon was a quote from David Platt, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board. In his book, Radial: Reclaiming Your Faith from the American Dream, he had this to say about orphans: “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It’s easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” 

I know that the same thing which is true about orphans is true for the Zacchaeus' of our lives. People are easier to ignore, write off, disregard or discard before we take off the label we have put on them and instead see their face, learn their name, and hear their story. What a tremendous difference it can make in our communities when we take the time to hear, to sit with others, learn their names, and hear their stories. 

I encourage you to keep reflecting on the experience of Zacchaeus, the rich man who wanted to see Jesus but lessened his chances for interaction by climbing a tree to avoid townspeople who rejected him.  And to reflect on these questions: Who are the Zacchaeus’ around you? The people groups not already represented in our church? My challenge this week is that if you do not already have a Zacchaeus, you begin to pray about where and how you might reach out to someone stuck up a tree and begin to relate to them.

We are together on this journey. Blessings,

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