The younger of my two sons was an energetic child. He was wiry and slippery, adventurous and fearless. He could not sit still, especially not in church, so most often my wife would have to remove him after a while so he would not be a disruptive nuisance to others in worship. Out of sight, out of mind, and out of church for most of his young life. What could anyone expect from a three or four-year-old child anyway?
There was one service we attended and my son was with us in the service with my wife holding him on her lap all the way up to the sermon – when the unthinkable happened. He broke free and ran right up to the front of the church as the pastor was beginning to preach. He ran up to the front and plopped himself on the floor right in front of the pastor and looked and listened. My wife and I resisted the urge to run up to get him, thinking that more attention would be paid to us trying to wrestle him back to where we were sitting. So, we let well enough alone, but were still glued on him with watchful eyes.
The pastor began to preach, but admitted to having trouble that week getting to his sermon, and dealing with some personal matters that distracted him. He was struggling to preach and couldn’t find the words to proclaim the gospel that day. After watching this for a few minutes, my son began to call out “Pastor, Pastor!” The pastor tried to ignore him and come up with something to say but the boy was persistent “Pastor, Pastor”, he continued shout – “Love your neighbor as yourself!”
The pastor looked down at my son, and then reached down to pick him up. “Preach, little brother”, he said with my son on his shoulder. “Preach the Gospel!”. The pastor, moved by the spontaneous call of this little boy, then preached a sermon on love. He found the words from an unlikely source – a little child who led him that day, who gave inspiration where there was emptiness, who saw green shoots coming from a dead tree.
Isaiah knew that the people’s future would be in the hands of an unlikely leader. His words are full of rich and hopeful images about a new future springing up from a dead past. It’s a future that promises peace and an end to predatory injustices – wolves and lions, lamb and cattle living together without the need to dominate, without the need to fear. This incredible turnaround will come from a most unlikely source – a little child – the root of Jesse reborn to lead the people. Come thou long expected Jesus. “Preach to us, little brother”!
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Devotions for Week of December 4, 2016
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.