A sermon preached at Niles Discovery Church, Fremont, CA
on Sunday, September 8, 2013, by the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer.
Scripture:  Jeremiah 1:4-10
Copyright © 2013 by Jeffrey S. Spencer

This was an interactive sermon, one in which the congregation was invited to participate.  Their responses are not recorded here.

Sermon has two parts – I need your help with both parts.

Let me start by talking about the job of a prophet.  Basically, I think it boils down to this:  To speak God’s truth.  Another way to put it is to explain God’s vision to the world.

Some prophets did this with memorable words:
Amos:  Let justice roll down like waters and righteous like an everflowing stream.
Isaiah:  They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war any more.
Micah:  What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humble with your God.

But those poetic words are really too long even for a bumper stickers, and I’d like to find a way to articulate God’s vision on these pins.[*]  So, we need to figure out a way to summarize God’s vision in a word or two.  So, how would you summarize God’s vision?

PARTICIPATION

Stuff gets in the way of sharing that vision.  Stuff gets in the way of speaking it to the world.  Most of that stuff comes from inside us.  We heard in today’s reading that Jeremiah said he couldn’t share God’s vision because he was too young.  What gets in the way for you?  What’s your excuse?

PARTICIPATION

God runs into excuses all the time.  We heard Jeremiah’s excuse, that he was too young.  Think about these other people God used:[†]
Noah would get drunk.
Abraham was too old.
Jacob was a liar.
Leah wasn’t pretty enough.
Joseph was abused,
Moses had a stutter.
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Timothy was another one who was “too young.”
David had an affair and was a murderer.
Isaiah preached naked.
Jonah ran from God.
Naomi was a widow.
Job went bankrupt.
Peter denied Christ.
The Disciples fell asleep while praying.
Martha worried about everything and simply had too much to do.
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once.
Zaccheus was too small.
Paul was too religious.
Even Lazarus’ excuse – he was dead – wasn’t good enough.

The news – you can decide it if it’s good or bad news – is that God has always used imperfect people.  In fact, God seems to prefer imperfect people.  Which means that God would be happy to use imperfect us.

Forget your excuses; God wants to use you.  So, given the fact that God wants to use the imperfect you, are you ready to sing our next hymn?[‡]


[*] I had a dozen or so pins, like a political campaign pin, that said, “God’s Vision:  _____________” and a bunch of magic markers.  People were invited to share their summary of God’s vision and to write it on a pin, and then wear the pin.

[†] This list is kicking around the internet in one form or another.  I forget where I first saw it.

[‡] The hymn that immediately followed the sermon was “Here I Am, Lord,” by Dan Schutte.

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