Today's Lectionary Text
In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.
When I was young, I went to a bowling league with my mother at Olathe Lanes West. And the one of the best parts of that was getting to order food from the concession stand (it was often the most junk food -- read: best food -- I ate all week). The concession stand was majestic to me. I had to reach up just to pay and reach the food where it was. It was amazing.
My mother got an injury that forced her to quit bowling and therefore I didn’t come back to that particular alley for nearly a decade. And when I did, they had replaced the concession stand with a new one! Gone was the majestic old counter that was so grand and tall. In its place was a very ordinary counter. It was very disappointing. The food didn’t taste as good either.
Of course, they hadn’t replaced the counter; I had grown up. And the memories I had of the alley when I was 8 were colored with nostalgia and blurred by the passage of time. At Orders & Fellowship last year, Bishop Saenz mentioned that we cannot return to the church that was, but we must look ahead to the church we will be. I thought of this passage from Haggai when I heard that.
In this passage, God asks if there were any who remembered the previous temple. It had been 70 years for them. They likely were young, 8-12 years old at most, when they went into exile. The old Temple of Solomon was made greater by nostalgia for them and blurred by the lens of time, like the concession counter was for me. For some of us the church looks like this. We remember what it was when we were young: when all pastors were saints, the world was all Christian, and we all agreed and sang “Kumbaya” by the fireplace. And while that may have been closer to reality than it is today, that wasn’t what was really happening back then either.
God had a message of hope for the people of Israel so long ago: “take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while ... I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor.” I believe God is giving that same message of hope to the United Methodist Church in 2019. Let us go forward into whatever God has for us next with hope in the promise of God. Amen.
-Pastor Michael Brown*Devotion originally published 2/9/19
Bucyrus and Spring Hill UMC's
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, come and fill your Church with your Holy Spirit. Enliven our souls and embolden our spirits that we might shake the foundations of this world and help as you draw all nations unto you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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