Bread – Messengers

November 17, 2010

Readings for Wednesday, November 17, designated by the Book of Common Prayer:  Mal. 1:1, 6-14; James 3:13-4:12; Luke 17:11-19; Psalms 101, 109, 119:121-144


We are messengers of God on earth. We know this to be true, but do we act like it is true? Do we behave in ways which clarify the message of Good News in Jesus Christ or do we cloud it? Is our message sharp and to the point or is diffused and unfocused, scattered among our responses to the world’s cares?

Our readings today are a compilation of warnings from God about all of the different ways our message can be destroyed. Listen to these and ask yourself how many of these you are guilty of.

The first reading is from Malachi, which means “messenger.” In Malachi, God criticizes Israel for lazy worship, for not offering God our best, but only offering Him the leftovers. Are you guilty of that? Have you compromised the Sabbath, staying in bed rather than spending it in worship? Have you been distracted during the sermon, wondering if the local football team will improve from their sorry record or wondering if you turned the oven off when you left the house? Have you offered to God the popcorn prayer of “Help me do (fill in the blank)” rather than spend time with God in prayer and reflection, building a relationship with Him? If we are not drinking deep from the well of living water, how will be refreshed to give a fresh, strong message to a tired world? Will we be an effective messenger of the truth about a caring God when we do not believe it ourselves sufficiently to give Him our best?

The second reading is from James. Any of you who have read James know that he was very good at describing all of the different ways we can fall short in our daily witness of Christ in our lives. In our short reading today, we find described the following limitations on the effectiveness of our message – (a) bitter envy, (b) selfish ambition, (c) boasting (self-promoting), (d) lying, (e) earthly thinking, (f) disorder, (g) evil practices, (h) selfish desires, (i) quarrelling and fighting, (j) improper motives, (k) self-centeredness, (l) adultery with the world, (m) hatred of God, (n) double-minded, (o) criticizing others, (p) criticizing the burdens and requirements of life, (q) judgment of others, (r) slandering others, (s) pride. Which of these apply to you? When I was listing them, I thought that (m) probably did not apply to me, because I did not hate God, but James says otherwise – “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?” James 4:4. So I guess (m) does apply to me too. After reading this list and examining ourselves, does anyone wonder any more why our message is weak and ineffective? Why should anyone care about the message of the Kingdom of God when the messenger is dressed in rags and speaks with forked tongue?

The third reading is from Luke. Here, the physician relates the healing of the ten lepers by Jesus. Of the ten which were healed, only one – the least, the Samaritan – returned to give thanks. Ungratefulness. We have now come full circle to Malachi. We do not give God glory by giving Him our best because we are ungrateful.

Why was the Samaritan leper the only one to return to Jesus and give thanks for his healing? Maybe because he knew he was an outcast. Maybe it was because he knew that he was not a member of the “special people,” the Jews, except indirectly. Maybe it was because he really understood his disease – that it was incurable, that it isolated the bearer from life and fellowship and love, that it always resulted in death. And knowing the depth of his removal from position in society, from health, from wealth, from life itself, maybe he realized how wonderful it was that God showed him mercy, removing his affliction, and restoring him to life.

With a clear view of how utterly dead we were in our sins we may have a clearer view of how much mercy has been shown to us by the gift of salvation, by the gift of the cross. With a clear view of how much mercy we have been shown, we may have a clearer view of how grateful we should be. With a clear view of how grateful we should be, we may have a clearer view of how we fall short in our worship, in our prayer, in our speech, in our behavior, in our love, and … in our message.

And once we have a clear view of these things, maybe we will have something to say.



One Response to “Bread – Messengers”

  1. […] is a re-work of one I wrote in November, 2010, on the same Scriptures. That one can be found at if you are […]

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