The Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. reflects on this week's Day1 sermon: "In But Not Of the World" by The Rev. Dr. James Howell
Amen Rev Howell! This message says much about this overheard prayer of Jesus. It is true that they missed the Gethsemane and Calvary ones, but this message helps us to know that we did at least read what they missed in our Bibles. The question is, what are we doing in but not of this world? Rev Howell helps us to wonder with them for it is as he says, "all of us are them." I wonder too how they might have understood Jesus' prayer in the real time of then. I appreciate Rev Howell's candor about the bad things that happen and how we blame them on God. Love really does not insist on it's own way. Jesus underscored that last week as he told them and us to remember to love one another.
No, we are not in a bubble protected from the stuff that happens, but we have been prayed for that when stuff happens, we will be found faithful. My mind rushed to Notre Dame on last weekend when president Obama truly "went there" in the face of opposition and controversy. Perhaps we cause more injury to ourselves and others trying to avoid trouble rather than facing it head-on. As the president said, "We will not always agree on the issue." That is still no reason to stop talking to each other. Rev Howell underscores this handily with the drink and dance question directed to Methodists--some can and some can't! I would add that all of the above other denominations can and can't as well. Parker Palmer in the the book To Know as We Are Known, suggests that it is not possible to study nature as an object--we too are a part of nature--a lab-coat gives us no more distance than a clergy robe might. In but not of suggests perhaps that we do get wet in the sea of this world, but prayer has a way of keeping us somewhat dry and reverent as we tread both turbulent and placid waters. We are invited to remember that God is faithful! Thanks Rev Howell for another poignant and thought-provoking WORD! Thanks Day1 for the lift!
UPDATE From: Billy Cox
As all of us know, being in the world, but not a part of the world causes one to go through life walking on egg shells. The questions confronting us each and every time we walk out the front door are; who will I be today in every situation and what will I do each and every time I am confronted with a questionable decision. When to say no, when to say yes, and when to compromise our identity are ever present. Furthermore, for some perfectly good Christians, to say yes to certain things would be appalling to some other equally good Christians. As a church going teen, I used to spend a certain amount of my spare time with friends in the local pool hall. I loved the game and still do. But, there were those dire hard, older church folks who would not be caught dead in such a place and at the very same time, were great trouble makers in their local church. The word Christian is more than an affirmation faith or membership in a certain church. It is a way of life. It is who we really are as persons inside and out. I also think about perfectly good and upright church members, who would never touch a drop of wine, but who forget about our Lord changing water into wine at a marriage feast. Surely the persons present that day must have had a wonderful celebration. If wine was OK for Jesus to make, surely it is OK for me to drink it, that is if I so choose to do so.
I guess in but not of the world will always be an issue for each and every one of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ. The thing is, as long as we are in the world and fully awake and conscious of who we are, our Lord is not done with us yet. Thanks be to God.
Thanks Peter and our friends at Day 1 and James Howell for causing us to think new thoughts, dream new dreams and always hope for the best.