Today’s Gospel: John 7:14-36
In the 7th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus explores his identity and relationship to God: “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me” (vs. 16). Jesus speaks only those words that God gives him to speak, and does not speak on his own. He asserts that those who speak on their own seek their own glory (vs. 18).
This is one of the tensions that I struggle with when it comes to preaching. Am I preaching about what I want to hear or what I want to “inflict” on the gathered congregation? Or am I nothing but a conduit for the Holy Spirit? Preaching can be a blessing and a curse! Sometimes it comes easy, as if God is typing on my keyboard, or when preaching extemporaneously, I open my mouth and what comes out surprises even me. “Wow! I was anointed by the Spirit,” I think to myself. And of course, there are times when it’s like pulling teeth and I think I will die trying to come up with something meaningful.
This is precisely when we need to get out of our own way. I have been struck this Lent by the times I have trusted in God to provide and when, quite frankly, I have struggled to trust. I need to work on this. So trust is a biggie for me. I ask you to think about the next time you need to confront someone or have a serious conversation or are making an important presentation at work. Can you trust God to have your back? Can you ask God to intervene on your behalf? Can you trust that you are nothing but a vessel for the Holy Spirit? I, of all people, know that trust is not easy. But try it. It works!
Lord, shall we not bring these gifts to Your Service?
Shall we not bring to Your service all our powers
For life, for dignity, grace and order,
And intellectual pleasures of the senses?
The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
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