This fall, First Presbyterian Church is following the Revised Common Lectionary, joining with tens of thousands of Christian bodies across the globe in the reading of common Scripture every Sunday. Moreover, sermons will be based on selections from the lectionary, as will spiritual formation/Christian education material across all age groups in the church school hour.
I’m excited about this change. This morning, I’ll have the opportunity to lead an adult seminar within these parameters. The preaching for the day seems to center on the NT readings: Luke 16 and 1 Timothy. But the OT readings and liturgical pieces suggested for today, for me, go a long way toward fleshing out exactly what Jesus was getting at in Luke (you can’t serve God and mammon, and you’d better get about the business of using worldly wealth for heavenly means — namely, almsgiving) in the tricky parable of the dishonest manager. The verses from 1 Timothy deal with praying for kings and those in high positions, or, as a few translations have it, kings and those in high places.
A few years ago “All You Zombies” by The Hooters came on the radio while I was driving down the highway. This had happened before, of course. But for some reason, on that day, vexed and hurt and made angry by a lot of things the Psalmist and OT liturgists also seem to have had on their minds, this song broke me into tears: all you sitting in high places/the pieces gonna fall on you is one piece of the prophetic message in today’s readings, but the last stanza felt like liberation. It was clearly, profoundly eschatological and found me in a profoundly powerful eschatological moment:
In this morning’s context, 1 Timothy 2:3 says it plainly, and the cross references affirm it: God wants all people to be saved. God wants all of God’s children to show their faces, to stand up and be counted, to come out of the basement, out of the dark, out of confinement and into community. God wants us each and all to participate here and now in God’s kingdom, yes, and that may have very little to do with church. But the All You Zombies imagery goes further: in the fullness of time, the high will be brought low and those made low (economically, emotionally, whatever) will thrive in the fullness of the eschaton, thriving for perhaps the first time ever. That is good news.