The Words Of The Prophets - Week One: "The Burden"
Today we're launching a new sermon series entitled "The Words Of The Prophets."
In the weeks leading up to Advent, we’ll be listening to the voices of the Old Testament prophets from the Lectionary readings as they prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
The inspiration for this series is a line from the classic song "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel. The line goes like this: The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..."
Biblical prophets aren’t predictors of the future; they hope to shape it. They used their words to either project a hopeful future or one full of hardship---all based on what was happening at the moment.
And the words of the prophets can come to us from some unlikely places at times.
We just have to have our eyes open, our ears ready to hear, and our hearts ready to be transformed.
Prophetic imagination helps us see beyond our reality and God's reality. We get glimpses of the coming Kingdom of God to see the world the way it ought to be, and we also get a vision of a Messiah.
Today we will be hearing from a prophet who had some hard questions for God and wasn't afraid to ask them.
Let me ask you a question. What do you do when bad things happen in your life?
And further, how do we react when there seem to be bad things happening all around us, and it feels like God seems to not care all that much about what is going on?
I recently read a news article about a young girl with a severe neurological disorder that affected her so that she could not experience any kind of shock. To do so would send her into cardiac arrest. She couldn't even read Harry Potter books for fear they would upset her. Forget roller coasters, action movies, and sports...
Sometimes I feel like our society lives on the edge of collective cardiac arrest---worrying that the next bit of bad news will send us over the edge. We have lived for so long with a kind of low-grade societal anxiety that we've begun to see the effects of it in all aspects of society.
Prolonged fear has the same sort of effect on society that it does on individuals. Physicians and Psychologists agree on the long-term impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on combat veterans, victims of violent crime, or traumatic events.
Many individuals who suffer from PTSD engage in substance abuse, are affected by memory loss, cannot function, suffer occupational instability (holding a job), have marital problems, and often display family discord.
When you apply the same sort of effects in a broader group of people---say Americans, for example---you can begin to see why our culture seems to be in such a mess. The Economy is tanking, Greed is rampant, and people are divided over politics, morality, religion, you name it. We've become addicted to materialism and consumption. Marriages and families are falling apart... Are you with me?
Hermann Goering, Reichsmarschall for the Nazi Third Reich, once said, "The people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked."