MALACHI SERMON:

INTRO;

DID YOU EVER GET A HOME READER…AT SCHOOL…

SOME BOOK THAT WAS REQUIRED READING

 SET BY THE ENGLISH TEACHER…??

--

THERE WERE SOME STRANGE CHOICES IN MY DAY…

THE WHITE COMPANY BY SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT…

NOT VERY EASY READS. NEVER QUITE GOT EITHER OF THOSE FINISHED..

NOT VERY ATTRACTIVE TO A FIFTEEN YEAR OLD BOY.

I WAS GRATEFUL, THOUGH,

WHEN THEY MADE ME READ

GRAHAME GREENE’S

THE POWER AND THE GLORY

FOR IT GOT ME INTO GRAHAME GREENE

AND MADE ME WANT TO READ ALL HIS BOOKS…

..

THE HERO….OR ANTI- HERO - OF THE POWER AND THE GLORY

IS A FLAWED AND FAILED PRIEST –DESCRIBED THUS:

HE IS the character upon whom the novel's most important moral questions center. He spends the majority of the novel on the run from the police, friendless and homeless and searching for some sense of purpose in his life. His decadent, indulgent life as a parish priest takes place before the novel begins, but it is present in his thoughts throughout the novel as a source of deep humiliation.

He meets his daughter, the product of a secret affair with one of his parishioners, and finds that his love for her makes it impossible for him to repent the sin of conceiving her. He often chastises himself for impulses and reactions that are very normal and very human.

BLEAK STUFF!

YET IN SPITE OF HIS VERY REAL FAILURES AND INADEQUACIES

HE IS STILL ABLE TO DO “KINGDOM WORK…”

 HIS WEAKNESS OVERCOME BY THE SPIRIT

 

HE STILL DOES GOOD.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS A DOCTRINE TO COVER THIS SITUATION

TO EXPLAIN THIS LITTLE MIRACLE

EX OPERE OPERANTIS

THOSE WHO PREACH, OFFER THE SACRAMENTS

MAY BE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE HEARTS ARE HEAVY WITH

BROKENNESS AND THEIR CHARACTER RIDDLED WITH FLAWS…

BUT THE SPIRIT IS ABLE TO TRIUMPH OVER THESE WEAKNESSES

AND BLESSINGS COME…

SPIRITUAL THINGS HAPPEN!!

IN SPITE OF…

REGARDLESS OF…

THE FAILINGS OF THE PRIEST

THE GOOD STILL HAPPENS

THE MIRACLE TAKES PLACE…

I LOVED THE TV SERIES REV

AND ITS MAIN CHARACTER

THE REVEREND ADAM SMALLBONE…

I LOVED THE REALLISM OF IT

AND HOW IT DIDN’T DUCK THE DIFFICULTIES

FACED BY THIS CLERGYMAN

STRUGGLING WITH THE PRESSURES

AND THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF HIS MINISTRY

HIS PATIENT, FAITHFUL, DEMANDING

AND  APPARENTLY UNSUCCESSFUL MINISTRY..

THEY WERE ALL ON VIEW…

REV AND HIS VULNERABLITIES

DOUBTS…WEAKNESS…

LEADING TO A CRISIS POINT

WHEN IT

FALLS APART…

HE FEELS

USELESS…USELESS…

AND TAKES TO HIS BED, TO HIS BOTTLE

HUGS HIS DEFEAT LIKE A BATTERED OLD TEDDY BEAR…

SINKS INTO MISERABLE DESPAIR AND FAILURE…

IT IS SAD DREADFUL AND HARROWING TO WATCH

BECAUSE IT’S ALL TOO POSSIBLE….

=

THEN

HE IS CALLED TO A BEDSIDE

WHERE A DYING WOMAN NEEDS MINISTRY

NEEDS HIS FALTERING BROKENBACKED MINISTRY

NEEEDS SOMEONE TO PRAY WITH HER

SIT WITH HER

WALK WITH HER THROUGH THE VALLEY FULL OF SHADOWS…

AND OUT OF HIS BROKENNESS THE WORDS OF FAITH TUMBLE

AND BRING REAL SPIRITUAL COMFORT,

AND BRING TRANSFORMING HOPE..

-

IT IS

VERY MOVING..

OFFERS A VERY COMFORTING REMINDER THAT

IT’S NOT ABOUT US…!!

IT’S ABOUT THE LORD!!

IT’S NOT ABOUT OUR FLAWS

BUT ABOUT HIS AMAZING GRACE.

--

.THE WRITER OF THE BOOK OF MALACHI

GIVES THE PRIESTS OF HIS DAY A HARD TIME

AND RIGHTLY SO…

THEY ARE VENAL AND RELUCTANT AND COMPROMISED…

BUT WORSHIP STILL HAPPENS…!!!

EX OPERE OPERANTIS…

IN SPITE OF THEIR SHORTCOMINGS AND COMPROMISES…

..

GRAEME AND I OFTEN TALK ABOUT THE STRANGE REALITY

THAT THE SERMONS WHICH OFTEN SEEM TO WORK BEST FOR PEOPLE

ARE NOT THE ONES WE RECKON ARE THE MASTERPIECES!!

THEY DON’T ALWAYS CONNECT AS WE THINK THEY WILL

WHEN WE READ THEM IN THE SAFE PLACE OF THE STUDY:

WHILE THE SERMONS THAT PERHAPS WE MIGHT RECKON TO BE

OK…NO MORE THAN OK

CAN BE THE ONES

THAT PEOPLE ARE MOST TOUCHED BY AND CHANGED BY …

.WHO KNOWS?

=

IN THE WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD, THEY HAVE A SAYING

 COINED BY THE SCRIPT WRITER WILLIAM GOLDMAN…

WHO WROTE THE SCREENPLAY FOR BUTCH CASSIDAY AND THE SUNDANCE KID….TO NAME BUT ONE…

IT WAS THE YEAR THE BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE  THE LAST BOY SCOUT

 WITH ARNOLD SCHWARNEGGER, BRUCE WILLIS AND SOME OTHER SUPERSTAR CAME OUT…

HUGE BUDGET – BIG NAME CAST…

AND IT BOMBED….LOST MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!

WHILE THE MASSIVE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HIT OF THE YEAR WAS

HOME ALONE…WITH A CAST NO ONE HAD HEARD OF!

=

AND THE REALITY THAT WAS NOTED BY GOLDMAN WAS

THAT

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING…

IN THE WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD…

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING!

=

IN THE WORLD OF PREACHING,

 IN THE CONDUCT OF WORSHIP…

NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING

EXCEPT THAT IT CAN WORK IN THE DEEPEST PARTS OF US…

AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW OR WHY…

WHICH PRAYER WILL STILL OUR HEARTS

WHICH HYMN WILL SEND OUR SPIRIT SOARING

WHICH SERMON WILL CHANGE OUR LIFE…

ALL WE DO KNOW IS THAT

THANK GOD

 THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS ABLE TO TRANSCEND THE PREACHER’S LIMITATIONS

TO SPEAK TRUTH TO OUR SOUL…

AN AMAZING, REASSURING BLESSED FACT…

-

THAT SAID…

IT’S BEST FOR THE PREACHER TO TAKE THEIR CALLING SERIOUSLY…

TO DO THEIR HOMEWORK…

TO BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE…

TO KEEP THE INTEGRITY BETWEEN WHAT THEY SAY AND WHO THEY ARE…

NOT TO HIDE BEHIND BIG WORDS AND SHOWY LANGUAGE…

IT MATTERS TO PREACHING AND THOSE LISTENING TO IT

THAT THERE IS SINCERITY AS WELL AS CLEAR THINKING…

SO THAT PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS MORE THAN

 JUST A JOB YOU HAVE TO DO…

BUT A WORD YOU BELIEVE IN –

AND BELIEVE TO BE TRUE

AND TO COME OUT OF THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL..

SO, IT’S NOT ABOUT SHOWING OFF…

GOING FOR LAUGHS…

BUT BEING TRUE TO THE BIBLE AND WHAT IT MEANS…

WHAT IT REALLY IS ABOUT…

(WHICH IS ALWAYS SO MUCH MORE THAN SIMPLISTIC TRUISMS

AND BALD DECLARATIONS…)

IT MEANS ADMITTING THERE ARE DIFFERENCES OF INTERPRETATION

AND IT MEANS THAT

IF WE SUGGEST IT IS SIMPLE…

WE ARE BETRAYING THE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY OF TRUTH…

==

OF COURSE, THIS WHOLE THING IS A TWO WAY STREET…

WHILE THE PREACHER HAS TO FULFIL THE DEMANDS OF THEIR CALLING,

THE LISTENERS HAVE TO BRING SOMETHING TO THE PROCESS…

IT HELPS IF THEY LOOK INTERESTED!!

AND BETTER STILL IF THEY ARE INTERESTED…

IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD

IF THEY COME WITH OPEN MINDS…

WILLING TO BE CHANGED…CHALLENGED…

DARED TO MOVE FROM WHERE THEY ARE… THAT IS FAMILIAR….

TO SOMEWHERE NEW THAT MIGHT FEEL A BIT THREATENNG…

OR WORSE STILL

THAT THEY MIGHT BE CALLED TO ACT IN A WAY THAT IS

UNCOMFORTABLE AND INCONVENIENT…

==

THIS IS NOT HAVING OUR EARS TICKLED

BY WORDS THAT ASK NOTHING OF US…

YOU NEED TO BE BRAVE TO “LISTEN FOR A WORD FROM THE LORD”:

BECAUSE YOU MIGHT JUST GET ONE!

==

AND SO THE ASTONISHING MIRACLE HAPPENS…

THE TRUTH GETS OUT

THE TRUTH GETS THROUGH…

..

AND THAT DYNAMIC IS NOT JUST FOR PREACHERS

BUT FOR ALL CHRISTIANS

THE GRACIOUS GIFT OF GOD THAT ALLOWS

OUR WITNESS

HOWEVER FALTERING AND HESITANT AND SHABBY

TO BE A WORK FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

AND WE HAVE NO IDEA

·        WHAT ACT OF KINDNESS

·        WHAT CARING LISTENING

·        WHAT PRAYER OFFERED

·        WHAT WORK SPOKEN SOFTLY

IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

IS GOING TO BE THE MOMENT

THAT KICK-STARTS THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

IGNITES THE INTEREST

STOPS SOMEONE IN THEIR TRACKS AND MAKES THEM THINK…

THE SEEDS WE SOW

WILL BRING A HARVEST IN SPITE OF THE WEEDS

THE STONY GROUND

THE BIRDS OF THE AIR

THE RAGS AND TATTERS OF OUR WITNESS!

HE WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

EX OPERE OPERANTIS…

REGARDLESS OF OUR STUMBLING, OUR FEAR,

OUR BROKENNESS

HE CAN USE US.

AND IF WE WANT HIM TO

HE WILL.

Amen.

 

 

IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT…

NOT VERY EASY READS. NEVER QUITE GOT EITHER OF THOSE FINISHED..

NOT VERY ATTRACTIVE TO A FIFTEEN YEAR OLD BOY.

I WAS GRATEFUL, THOUGH,

WHEN THEY MADE ME READ

GRAHAME GREENE’S

THE POWER AND THE GLORY

FOR IT GOT ME INTO GRAHAME GREENE

AND MADE ME WANT TO READ ALL HIS BOOKS…

..

THE HERO….OR ANTI- HERO - OF THE POWER AND THE GLORY

IS A FLAWED AND FAILED PRIEST –DESCRIBED THUS:

HE IS the character upon whom the novel's most important moral questions center. He spends the majority of the novel on the run from the police, friendless and homeless and searching for some sense of purpose in his life. His decadent, indulgent life as a parish priest takes place before the novel begins, but it is present in his thoughts throughout the novel as a source of deep humiliation.

He meets his daughter, the product of a secret affair with one of his parishioners, and finds that his love for her makes it impossible for him to repent the sin of conceiving her. He often chastises himself for impulses and reactions that are very normal and very human.

BLEAK STUFF!

YET IN SPITE OF HIS VERY REAL FAILURES AND INADEQUACIES

HE IS STILL ABLE TO DO “KINGDOM WORK…”

 HIS WEAKNESS OVERCOME BY THE SPIRIT

 

HE STILL DOES GOOD.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS A DOCTRINE TO COVER THIS SITUATION

TO EXPLAIN THIS LITTLE MIRACLE

EX OPERE OPERANTIS

THOSE WHO PREACH, OFFER THE SACRAMENTS

MAY BE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE HEARTS ARE HEAVY WITH

BROKENNESS AND THEIR CHARACTER RIDDLED WITH FLAWS…

BUT THE SPIRIT IS ABLE TO TRIUMPH OVER THESE WEAKNESSES

AND BLESSINGS COME…

SPIRITUAL THINGS HAPPEN!!

IN SPITE OF…

REGARDLESS OF…

THE FAILINGS OF THE PRIEST

THE GOOD STILL HAPPENS

THE MIRACLE TAKES PLACE…

I LOVED THE TV SERIES REV

AND ITS MAIN CHARACTER

THE REVEREND ADAM SMALLBONE…

I LOVED THE REALLISM OF IT

AND HOW IT DIDN’T DUCK THE DIFFICULTIES

FACED BY THIS CLERGYMAN

STRUGGLING WITH THE PRESSURES

AND THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF HIS MINISTRY

HIS PATIENT, FAITHFUL, DEMANDING

AND  APPARENTLY UNSUCCESSFUL MINISTRY..

THEY WERE ALL ON VIEW…

REV AND HIS VULNERABLITIES

DOUBTS…WEAKNESS…

LEADING TO A CRISIS POINT

WHEN IT

FALLS APART…

HE FEELS

USELESS…USELESS…

AND TAKES TO HIS BED, TO HIS BOTTLE

HUGS HIS DEFEAT LIKE A BATTERED OLD TEDDY BEAR…

SINKS INTO MISERABLE DESPAIR AND FAILURE…

IT IS SAD DREADFUL AND HARROWING TO WATCH

BECAUSE IT’S ALL TOO POSSIBLE….

=

THEN

HE IS CALLED TO A BEDSIDE

WHERE A DYING WOMAN NEEDS MINISTRY

NEEDS HIS FALTERING BROKENBACKED MINISTRY

NEEEDS SOMEONE TO PRAY WITH HER

SIT WITH HER

WALK WITH HER THROUGH THE VALLEY FULL OF SHADOWS…

AND OUT OF HIS BROKENNESS THE WORDS OF FAITH TUMBLE

AND BRING REAL SPIRITUAL COMFORT,

AND BRING TRANSFORMING HOPE..

-

IT IS

VERY MOVING..

OFFERS A VERY COMFORTING REMINDER THAT

IT’S NOT ABOUT US…!!

IT’S ABOUT THE LORD!!

IT’S NOT ABOUT OUR FLAWS

BUT ABOUT HIS AMAZING GRACE.

--

.THE WRITER OF THE BOOK OF MALACHI

GIVES THE PRIESTS OF HIS DAY A HARD TIME

AND RIGHTLY SO…

THEY ARE VENAL AND RELUCTANT AND COMPROMISED…

BUT WORSHIP STILL HAPPENS…!!!

EX OPERE OPERANTIS…

IN SPITE OF THEIR SHORTCOMINGS AND COMPROMISES…

..

GRAEME AND I OFTEN TALK ABOUT THE STRANGE REALITY

THAT THE SERMONS WHICH OFTEN SEEM TO WORK BEST FOR PEOPLE

ARE NOT THE ONES WE RECKON ARE THE MASTERPIECES!!

THEY DON’T ALWAYS CONNECT AS WE THINK THEY WILL

WHEN WE READ THEM IN THE SAFE PLACE OF THE STUDY:

WHILE THE SERMONS THAT PERHAPS WE MIGHT RECKON TO BE

OK…NO MORE THAN OK

CAN BE THE ONES

THAT PEOPLE ARE MOST TOUCHED BY AND CHANGED BY …

.WHO KNOWS?

=

IN THE WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD, THEY HAVE A SAYING

 COINED BY THE SCRIPT WRITER WILLIAM GOLDMAN…

WHO WROTE THE SCREENPLAY FOR BUTCH CASSIDAY AND THE SUNDANCE KID….TO NAME BUT ONE…

IT WAS THE YEAR THE BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE  THE LAST BOY SCOUT

 WITH ARNOLD SCHWARNEGGER, BRUCE WILLIS AND SOME OTHER SUPERSTAR CAME OUT…

HUGE BUDGET – BIG NAME CAST…

AND IT BOMBED….LOST MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!

WHILE THE MASSIVE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HIT OF THE YEAR WAS

HOME ALONE…WITH A CAST NO ONE HAD HEARD OF!

=

AND THE REALITY THAT WAS NOTED BY GOLDMAN WAS

THAT

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING…

IN THE WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD…

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING!

=

IN THE WORLD OF PREACHING,

 IN THE CONDUCT OF WORSHIP…

NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING

EXCEPT THAT IT CAN WORK IN THE DEEPEST PARTS OF US…

AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW OR WHY…

WHICH PRAYER WILL STILL OUR HEARTS

WHICH HYMN WILL SEND OUR SPIRIT SOARING

WHICH SERMON WILL CHANGE OUR LIFE…

ALL WE DO KNOW IS THAT

THANK GOD

 THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS ABLE TO TRANSCEND THE PREACHER’S LIMITATIONS

TO SPEAK TRUTH TO OUR SOUL…

AN AMAZING, REASSURING BLESSED FACT…

-

THAT SAID…

IT’S BEST FOR THE PREACHER TO TAKE THEIR CALLING SERIOUSLY…

TO DO THEIR HOMEWORK…

TO BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE…

TO KEEP THE INTEGRITY BETWEEN WHAT THEY SAY AND WHO THEY ARE…

NOT TO HIDE BEHIND BIG WORDS AND SHOWY LANGUAGE…

IT MATTERS TO PREACHING AND THOSE LISTENING TO IT

THAT THERE IS SINCERITY AS WELL AS CLEAR THINKING…

SO THAT PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS MORE THAN

 JUST A JOB YOU HAVE TO DO…

BUT A WORD YOU BELIEVE IN –

AND BELIEVE TO BE TRUE

AND TO COME OUT OF THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL..

SO, IT’S NOT ABOUT SHOWING OFF…

GOING FOR LAUGHS…

BUT BEING TRUE TO THE BIBLE AND WHAT IT MEANS…

WHAT IT REALLY IS ABOUT…

(WHICH IS ALWAYS SO MUCH MORE THAN SIMPLISTIC TRUISMS

AND BALD DECLARATIONS…)

IT MEANS ADMITTING THERE ARE DIFFERENCES OF INTERPRETATION

AND IT MEANS THAT

IF WE SUGGEST IT IS SIMPLE…

WE ARE BETRAYING THE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY OF TRUTH…

==

OF COURSE, THIS WHOLE THING IS A TWO WAY STREET…

WHILE THE PREACHER HAS TO FULFIL THE DEMANDS OF THEIR CALLING,

THE LISTENERS HAVE TO BRING SOMETHING TO THE PROCESS…

IT HELPS IF THEY LOOK INTERESTED!!

AND BETTER STILL IF THEY ARE INTERESTED…

IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD

IF THEY COME WITH OPEN MINDS…

WILLING TO BE CHANGED…CHALLENGED…

DARED TO MOVE FROM WHERE THEY ARE… THAT IS FAMILIAR….

TO SOMEWHERE NEW THAT MIGHT FEEL A BIT THREATENNG…

OR WORSE STILL

THAT THEY MIGHT BE CALLED TO ACT IN A WAY THAT IS

UNCOMFORTABLE AND INCONVENIENT…

==

THIS IS NOT HAVING OUR EARS TICKLED

BY WORDS THAT ASK NOTHING OF US…

YOU NEED TO BE BRAVE TO “LISTEN FOR A WORD FROM THE LORD”:

BECAUSE YOU MIGHT JUST GET ONE!

==

AND SO THE ASTONISHING MIRACLE HAPPENS…

THE TRUTH GETS OUT

THE TRUTH GETS THROUGH…

..

AND THAT DYNAMIC IS NOT JUST FOR PREACHERS

BUT FOR ALL CHRISTIANS

THE GRACIOUS GIFT OF GOD THAT ALLOWS

OUR WITNESS

HOWEVER FALTERING AND HESITANT AND SHABBY

TO BE A WORK FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

AND WE HAVE NO IDEA

·        WHAT ACT OF KINDNESS

·        WHAT CARING LISTENING

·        WHAT PRAYER OFFERED

·        WHAT WORK SPOKEN SOFTLY

IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

IS GOING TO BE THE MOMENT

THAT KICK-STARTS THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

IGNITES THE INTEREST

STOPS SOMEONE IN THEIR TRACKS AND MAKES THEM THINK…

THE SEEDS WE SOW

WILL BRING A HARVEST IN SPITE OF THE WEEDS

THE STONY GROUND

THE BIRDS OF THE AIR

THE RAGS AND TATTERS OF OUR WITNESS!

HE WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

EX OPERE OPERANTIS…

REGARDLESS OF OUR STUMBLING, OUR FEAR,

OUR BROKENNESS

HE CAN USE US.

AND IF WE WANT HIM TO

HE WILL.

Amen.