272 WordsNovember 18, 2013
[November 19, 2013, will mark the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, at the Pennsylvania Battlefield. Following a preacher who spoke for two hours. Lincoln’s remarks, numbering 272 words, lasted just longer than two minutes.
One of my colleagues, MaryAnn McKibben Dana reflected on what it might be like for us preachers to take the Sunday closest and limit our sermon to the same amount – 272 words. I joined her in that challenge, and below are my remarks. For what it’s worth, the word count starts AFTER the opening prayer…]
“Glimpses of the Kingdom,” a sermon preached by Rev. Jason Cashing, to the congregation of Gregory Memorial Presbyterian Church, Prince George, Virginia, on November 17, 2013.
<Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19>
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Holy One, our Rock and Redeemer. Amen.
I find myself thinking of Veruca Salt, from Willy Wonka, singing, “I want the world. I want the whole world. And I want it now!”
Because, as I reflect on these readings, I join my voices to the loud chorus that, hearing the promises of the new heaven and new earth, proclaims: “When?!”
When, O Lord, will the sound of weeping and the cry of distress be no more? When, O Lord, will people live full and rich lives? When, O Lord, shall predators no longer hurt or destroy on your holy mountain? When shall the temple be torn down, with stone no longer left on stone, heralding your return?
We read of these prophetic promises, and look at the world around us, and wonder:
“Will our waiting…
And such a question, though evident, sets up in us a passive response – we are waiting for God to act…God to bring about…God to bring to fruition. And certainly, when the new heavens and new earth come, it will be by God’s doing.
But we must not look past our responsibility as well.
Lincoln, standing at Gettysburg, proclaimed that their task was not to add to what already made the ground hallowed, but to take up the mantle of living into the world those men died to help advance, lest they died in vain.
So, too, our calling is to advance the reality of a world in which there is no more weeping or distress. The means to advance this work are within us, are given us by God. Let us use them for God’s work. Amen.