Telling the Old, Old Story

anachronism--n. A thing belonging to another time. A chronological inconsistency. A juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, customs from different time periods.

I use them sometimes in my preaching, to liven up my sermons.  Always tongue-in-cheek, though. They can be unintentional, but mine are always on purpose. On Sunday, I had most of the recipients of Jesus' miracles in Luke's gospel present together in the crowd on Palm Sunday. I off-handily mentioned that Pilate's wife was irritable because she hadn't been sleeping well lately. A prostitute had been lying to her children about selling cosmetics at a counter in the local department store.

Shakespeare was famous for using anachronisms. The striking of a clock in Julius Caesar, 1300 years before that time piece was invented. A game of billiards in Antony And Cleopatra, even more years before that game came into existence.

I also include in my messages references to current events. Please do not try to decipher my political views from the things I choose to mention. It's just an attempt to show relevance and an awareness of the front-page news that everyone is talking about between Sundays. Maybe to catch someone's ear just as he is nodding off. By jumping between the 1st century and the 21st I am attempting to keep my listeners engaged long enough to hear the gospel.

Truth is timeless after all.

Moses told his people that in the future, when their children asked about the exodus, they were to tell them: "We were slaves in Egypt...But He brought us out from there" (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).
The children and grandchildren of future generations were included in the act of deliverance, even though they had not yet been born! Modern Jews of faith still feel obligated to see themselves as those who personally came out of Egypt and they rehearse all of that every year at Passover time.

Christians say that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3) even though when the crucifixion took place none of us had been born, much less sinned. And when Jesus prayed His high priestly prayer He included in it "those who will believe" (John 17:20). That's us!

Sermons at Christmas and Easter are among the hardest for preachers, both because most people in the congregation are thoroughly familiar with the biblical accounts, and because for some, these are the only two sermons they are likely to hear all year.

I just keep reminding myself as I work away in my office--writing, editing, and committing to memory-- that I am simply charged to tell the old, old story. It is old and yet it is ever new! Always current. It happened for Peter and Paul and their contemporaries--and it happened for each of us, too.

God's revealed name, after all, is "I AM" (Exodus 3:14, Psalm 90:1-2).

This Sunday—EASTER—we will join with Christians around the world in saying:

“Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.” And we will know that is true because, in some strange and wonderful and very real sense, we were there!




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