This week's scripture lessons (Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45) are loaded with promises of new sights, new sounds and, yes, new life! Preachers who are preparing for Sunday's proclamation may be experiencing all sorts of interior nudges as God's Spirit invites them to take a look, first, at the blind spots or dead ends in their own lives.
Pastor, in this moment murk and crud are being cleared from your lenses. Static and distortion are being removed from your auditory system. You would think that would be an occasion for explosive and exuberant joy, wouldn't you? But what if all of this healing and clarification reveals sights and sounds that have been selectively omitted for years? What if the road that you have been following that seemed to be so straight and sure has suddenly been revealed as one that is not only a dead end but also one that has led to a stagnant pool?
It isn't the happiest of moments to find that we have either hit a brick wall of depleted inspiration or that we are standing at the final edge of our understanding. What to do next? Even turning around seems impossible.
Can that moment of temporary paralysis when our resources seem exhausted be seen as Holy Ground? Instead of struggling to gain more information or to develop a strategy to get ourselves out of the situation, can we stand still long enough to receive some sight or sound that is being given by God? Perhaps there is a vibration of healing or a shimmer of fresh truth.
Standing at the dead end we have reached by trusting our own certainties, can we pause to look upward and around us to gaze upon the expansive sights and sounds of new life given to us freely by God?
Perhaps the winds of grace are beginning to caress your cheek or tousle your hair. How can you move from your dead end?
You might have to readjust some attitudes. You may need to set aside your own expectations of what is possible or what constitutes success.
Just as sailors may need to lighten the load on a boat to move from shallow water, you may need to offload some of the weight you have accumulated while following your "own" standard operating procedures.
A boat that has been "dead in the water" will begin to move if the sails are adjusted to catch the freshening winds. When you hoist the sails of your abilities, resources, hopes and dreams and work with the new possibilities rather than ignoring or discounting them, your thoughts, your proclamation and your ministry may take a new direction.
Sometimes we need to accept transformation and renewal in our own lives before we can transmit the Good News of Jesus Christ to others. It may seem risky, and our congregations may even wonder "What is that about?" What is new and fresh and innovative to us may seem irresponsible or conflicting to others.
Well, I guess that it wouldn't be the first time that God's surprises have created a fervor, right?