Year C - Epiphany 1 or Beloved
January 10, 2016
When Preaching magazine was launched in 1985, their list of contributing editors gave them a sense of who would be listed among the most influential preachers in America. That original group included Stuart Briscoe, Maxie Dunnam, Jim Henry, David Allan Hubbard, John Huffman, D.E. King, James Earl Massey, Calvin Miller, Lloyd John Ogilvie, Stephen F. Olford, Haddon Robinson, J. Alfred Smith, John Wesley White and William Willimon, along with several more.
Twenty-five years later, in 2010, they again named their top preachers of the previous 25 years: Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, Rick Warren, Gardner C. Taylor, John MacArthur, Adrian Rogers, Haddon Robinson, Andy Stanley, John R.W. Stott, W.A. Criswell, John Piper, Charles Stanley, Stephen F. Olford, William A. Jones, Bill Hybels, Fred Craddock, Mark Driscoll, Jack Hayford, William Willimon, E.K. Bailey, D. James Kennedy, Barbara Brown Taylor, Warren Wiersbe, Lloyd John Ogilvie, Tim Keller. Also mentioned were: Jerry Falwell, S.M. Lockridge, John Maxwell, Bruce Wilkinson, Lee Strobel, W. F. Kumuyi, Bro. Gbile Akanni, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, T.D. Jakes, Stuart Briscoe, Vance Havner, Ravi Zacharias, John Arnott, Erwin Lutzer.
Of course a different resource than Preaching would come up with some different names. Anyone you would nominate from the last 5 years?
Around each of these there was a group of people filled with expectation who wondered if they might be the answer to their questions of meaning. Surely if only everyone listened to “this” preacher all would be set right in the world!
Into a scene of a grand preach-off to identify and solidify around The Preacher comes a reversal to a silver-tongued Magi who not only gets the most most gold but absolute power to set the theological agenda for the world. It is not gold, frankincense, or myrrh that is highlighted now, but water, simple, everyday water.
After everyone has been baptized with plain old H2O, Jesus is also baptized. Note that where the others began to sense they were now on some right side, Jesus prays to hear deeper than victory or success. A prayer of listening brings, “Beloved!” A prayer of listening evokes a Spirit connecting Body, Mind, and Relationships.
This prayer of listening trades in mercy and joy, not eternally burning chaff. (Oh, there are moments recorded, but the overwhelming work is that of building a storehouse of compassion from which to take an unending supply to apply to the wounds of the day.)
Pray beyond asking, all the way to listening for Belovedness being loosed again in the land.