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The Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. The Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr., is pastor of Covenant United Church of Christ, South Holland, IL. He is also a trustee of the Alliance for Christian Media.

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Covenant United Church of Christ, South Holland, IL


Dr. Ozzie Smith on "As the Father Has Loved Me"

May 12, 2009

The Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. reflects on this week's Day1 sermon: "As the Father Has Loved Me" by the Rev. Dr. James Howell.

Amen, Rev. Howell!  Thanks for continuing to echo the power of the the true-vine!  This message reminded me of how my grandfather enjoyed baseball--radio only.  Although there were several TVs in his home, he preferred to hear baseball from a radio perched in a bedroom window.  There in his backyard, he must have imagined being at the game. 

Rev. Howell underscores the reality of faith coming by hearing.  It is the hearing that causes the seeing, not its opposite.  Television has somewhat diminished our ability to imagine.  Rev. Howell is correct, the camera tells us what to see.  Imagination spawned by speech has been hijacked--technological distance has eliminated theological intimacy.  The disciples did hear and see Jesus though his words seemed always to drown-out his being seen.  Perhaps this is the truth of the word becoming flesh and vice versa in terms of Jesus' being.

I attended a wedding some time ago where the officiating pastor took time to deal with Jesus' commandment to "love one another, as I have loved you."  The second clause of that command carries the freight of Jesus' intent.  I believe, as that pastor that Jesus did not want to leave "love" to the disciples' interpretation of spin.  Instead he wanted them to be certain of the love intended and attended.  Not unlike his word to abide in me as I abide in you.  Jesus' love and abiding are always active and unconditional in real time.  He challenges us in the command to do this AS he does it.  Though our attempts will be abbreviated and not quite reasonable facsimiles, he calls us to do these just the same.  His Father's love enable him to risk all of himself for all of ourselves, warts, wishy-washy, and all.  To begin to fathom that kind of love is not within human ability, but it is an unconditional given to all of us--humans. 

Thank you, Rev. Howell, for a powerful Word!  Thanks Day1 for the lift!

--Ozzie Smith

 

UPDATE: Response from the Rev. Dr. Billy Cox:

This week's sermon by James Howell, specifically the illustration how major league baseball games were formerly conveyed to the public via radio through the colorful and descriptive voices of the announcers, was a bit of wonderful past American sporting history. Through an unseen human voice, the attentive listener was able to keep pace with the play by play action on the diamond. I know, for, I have been there and done that. Though both parties, the announcer and the public were unseen to one another, through a human voice coming over a wire people glued to their radio were informed, excited, inspired and perhaps even changed.
 
This reminds me of a scene from the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". A major league baseball game was being played and shown on tv in the reckhall at the mental hospital. Because of the patients bad behavior, Nurse Ratchet would not permit the tv to be turned on. One very able, imaginative and vocally descriptive patient, Jack Nicholson, saw the dilemma facing his patient friends and assumed the role of an announcer calling the game play by play as if he was watching it himself. His friends became excited, and soon gathered around listening as he described the action. Simply because a friend supposedly saw something they did not and could not see, through the action of this friend, the lives of others were momentarily changed.
 
It's amazing how often lives are changed for the good simply because they observe the positive change in the life of someone around them. One person sees something that others do not see and their lives suddenly take a new and different turn. We never know. Do we?
 
Thanks Peter and your folks at Day1 in Atlanta.
 
Billy Cox
Louisville, Kentucky


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