Pentecost (Year A - Lutheran Service Book readings)
Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12, 2011
Wear a reflective vest.
This is a picture of what a prophet does. A prophet directs people to the truth of God’s Word.
I’m a prophet—not in the sense that I can foretell the future, but in the sense of the Old Testament prophets who were forthtellers, they spoke for God, called people to God, linked right worship with right living, linked faith with action.
In that sense, I am a prophet, I am here to direct people to the truth of God’s Word, I am here to point out your sin, and I am here to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness for your sins.
But boy, it can seem lonely being a prophet. To stand up here and proclaim God’s Word can seem very lonely, like I’m out here on my own, pointing to God’s Word, not sure if anyone is listening, not sure if anyone else is paying attention. And beyond today, during the week, the day-to-day things of the church, well, it can seem very lonely. Even with the great team we have here of Chris Drager, our youth and family minister, and Heidi Hunter, our church secretary, and Carol Cook, our parish coordinator, and Karen Kozlik, our preschool director, plus the teachers, Mrs. Boardman, Mrs. Stutzmann, Mrs. Kaufmann, even with that great team, still it’s a lonely business being a prophet, lonely for all of us to be the ones directing people to the truth of God’s Word.
Lately it’s seemed especially lonely as the congregation faces financial stress, using up our savings, facing the very real possibility that we’re going to have to cut back on staff by the end of the summer unless something changes. That’s a lonely feeling to be standing here, wondering how to keep directing people to God’s Word. I can’t do this alone.
That’s what I find myself talking to God about: I can’t do this alone, Lord. I can’t keep speaking Your Word by myself. Even with our small team, it still feels lonely, Lord. Lord, what are you going to do? How are we going to move forward?
Maybe I was feeling that way this week even more because I was studying today’s Old Testament reading from Numbers, a reading where Moses was feeling lonely, too, feeling like he was very alone speaking God’s Word, feeling like no one was listening, everyone was complaining, and no one wanted to join him in staying with God’s Word. That’s how Moses was feeling. . .and God did something about it. God showed Moses that he wasn’t alone.
God gathered 70 elders and poured out His Spirit on them, gathered 70 elders who would also be prophetic voices, gathered 70 elders who would also direct the people to God’s truth. On top of that, God even poured out His Spirit on two men who weren’t in the gathering of elders, Eldad and Medad, poured out His Spirit on them, and they were prophesying in the camp. It wasn’t just the official people who were going to speak God’s Word, it wasn’t just the officially licensed people who were joining Moses.
When Joshua tries to put a stop to Eldad and Medad prophesying, we see the heart of Moses, and really the heart of God, when Moses says, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets.” In other words, I wish all of God’s people would receive the Spirit, that all of God’s people would speak and direct others to the truth of God’s Word.
Through all of that, through this “little Pentecost,” God was showing Moses that there were going to be many prophets, many people who were there to direct others to the truth, and Moses was far from alone.
So could it be that God is also showing me that I am not alone? Could it be that the staff is not alone in directing people to God’s Word? Could it be that we have a lot of prophets in our midst?
If a prophet is someone that directs people to the truth of God’s Word, if a prophet is someone who calls people to right worship and right living, if a prophet is someone who has received the Spirit of the Lord, could it be that we have more prophets in our midst? Could it be that you are all prophets?
Get volunteers to also wear reflective vests.
Would that I had reflective vests for everyone to wear.
Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets.
And you are, you are all prophets, you all have the Word of Christ, you have the Holy Spirit, you have a way of directing people to the truth of God’s Word.
That’s what we see in the little Pentecost that happens in the book of Numbers, there were more prophets, more people with the Spirit than expected.
And that’s what has happened for us because of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit has been poured out on God’s people, poured out on the Church on the day of Pentecost, and continues to be poured out on God’s people right up unto today. God has given you the Holy Spirit so that you can wear the reflective vest, so that you can direct people to His truth. The Church has a prophetic voice, a voice that points out sin and how our sin condemns us to eternal death. The Church has a prophetic voice, a voice that offers the hope of the Gospel, the hope of forgiveness, the hope of eternal life.
This prophetic voice, this prophetic voice of the Church, well, it’s not like it sits somewhere else, it doesn’t just sit with other churches, and it doesn’t just sit with me and the staff, that prophetic voice sits with the Church, the people, you, you are prophets, you all can wear the reflective vest, you all have ways to direct people to the truth of God’s Word, through your words and through your actions, you are directing people to find the truth in what God has to say.
Would that I had a reflective vest for everyone to wear, because you are all prophets, you all have a prophetic Word to share with the community around you, to share with your family and friends, to share with everyone you meet. Your actions, your words, they’re directing people to God. I am not alone.
I don’t mean that you all necessarily have the spiritual gift of prophecy; that may not be your spiritual tendency. What I mean, though, is that we do teach and confess that all believers have received the Spirit of the Lord, and all believers speak and show the Word of the Lord. That Word that we have, that Word is a prophetic word; it’s a powerful Word that goes against what is heard in this world. Even by saying that Jesus is Lord, that’s uttering a prophetic word, a word that speaks the truth in a powerful way against the theories of this world, a word that speaks a hope that the world desperately needs.
So you are all prophets, you all could wear a reflective vest, you all by faith in Jesus have a prophetic voice through your words and your actions.
Will you pray for your friends and family and community that they would know that Jesus is Lord? That’s being a prophet—speaking to God on behalf of others. Will you speak about your faith that Jesus is Lord? That’s being a prophet—speaking the radical truth even if you’re using unradical words. Will you show your faith through actions that are different than the world expects? That’s being a prophet—directing people to the truth of God’s Word by your actions.
So what’s God going to do through you?
What’s God going to do through all of His prophets here at Bethel?
What’s God going to do through you despite our financial stress?
What’s God going to do through Bethel if we remain focused on His mission, if we remain focused on directing people to God’s Word?
Moses prayed that all the Lord’s people would be prophets, and that prayer’s been answered. Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, you are all prophets, you all have a prophetic voice, you all have a prophetic word to share with this generation.
So what’s God going to do through you?
God pulled many of you together to proclaim hope for the Silasiri family this weekend, raising over $12,000 for the family, as little Micah battles leukemia. God pulled you together to proclaim hope for Micah and speak a prophetic word in our community, a word that says we care about people because God cares about people, a word that says we serve others because God first served us. It was a spaghetti dinner, but it was a prophetic action, a prophetic word, a word that speaks of a greater hope than the world can offer.
If God can do that through Bethel, if God can do that this weekend, what else is He going to do through you? How else is God going to use you? How else will be you be God’s prophets, directing people to the truth of God’s Word?
Dream and imagine and dream and imagine what God could do, because He can do it. This financial stress that we’re in, do we really think that’s going to stop what God’s doing in this place? Do we really think that we’re going to stop doing the mission of God in this place? Isn’t God bigger than that? Aren’t our dreams and imaginations for God bigger than that? Isn’t God’s dream and imagination for Bethel bigger than that?
I think it is; I think it’s bigger than what we can see. I think there’s a way that we can pool our resources, a way to pool our time, talents, and treasures to do something incredible for God’s mission, to do something to reach this community with a prophetic voice, a word of hope and grace and love and mercy. I believe that God can do incredible things here through us. . .through the prophets in this place.
Now I guess there’s a chance we don’t believe this, there’s a chance we might walk away from this opportunity, there’s a chance we don’t think that God could really use us, little ol’ Bethel Lutheran Church; there’s a chance we don’t think we have a prophetic voice, a voice that can share God’s Word with others.
But the truth of Pentecost is, the truth of today is: God has sent His Spirit on us, God has poured out His Spirit on the Church, God has given you a prophetic voice, God has given you an orange vest to wear, God has made it so that by your words and your actions you can direct people to the powerful truth of God’s Word.
Which means that God has a great big imagination, a great big dream of what He’s going to do in this place, a great big dream about how He’s going to use this fellowship of believers, a great big imagination about how our community will hear about the love of Jesus, the salvation through Jesus, the forgiveness through Jesus. And God’s going to do that through the orange vested people of Bethel, the prophets in this place, the people directing others to the truth of God’s Word.