Email Devotion Pentecost 19
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
(Jeremiah 31:31, NRSV)
As I thought about today’s sermon theme of “identity,” I found myself wandering around some old illustrations, and this one crossed my homiletical path.
A modern editor, William Sloane, once gave good advice to would-be writers. He claimed that when readers pick up a book they are not saying to the author, “Tell me about yourself.” The readers have but one thing in mind – not “tell me about you” but “tell me about me.”
I couldn’t fit it into the sermon, but thought I would play with it a bit tonight. It sounds a bit self-absorbed to think that when I read a book (or listen to a sermon), I want the author/preacher to be thinking about me, right? But in many ways, aren’t all forms of communication bound by the same premise? We converse with others, precisely for the purpose of finding some connection with them. We invite the other into our life, and hope they will do the same. If we each do this well, than the presence of vulnerability offers the opportunity to bond with the other. If I am at a football game talking to the person in the seat next to me, it will be a shallow relationship that I don’t expect to last beyond a couple of hours. So I don’t care if my partner for the afternoon takes me seriously or not. But if I am meeting someone in our congregational setting, with whom I hope to form a long-term relationship, I will expect each of us to be focused on the other, as we strive to find human and faith connections that we share. Mr. Sloane is right. His premise is the grist for the mill of human relationships.
The same can almost assuredly be said for our relationship with God. While we sometimes think of this as a one way relationship with God, the Bible suggests that God’s covenant with us as God’s children is always relational. It is a different kind of relationship than the one you establish with your best friend or spouse. It is different than any other relationship you are in. The conversation is a bit different. God speaks to us in the sacraments of Baptism and Communion … through the gift of the Word of God in the Bible … through the liturgy of the church … and through those prophets, both ancient and modern, who occasionally speak on God’s behalf. You also speak to God. You do so through your prayers … and in the joys, sorrows and wrestlings of your heart … and in your conversations about God with others. Hopefully you see your relationship with God in this active and unfolding way. If not, try initiating the conversation again through your prayer life, or Bible readings, or in a group whose charge it to be in conversation about God – a Bible Study, a worship service, or a prayer group. It is far better than being alone in your faith life.