Tongues of teachers

Isaiah 50:4-9a | John 13:21-32

God, Isaiah tells us, has given us the tongues of teachers, so the question we have on this Wednesday night in Holy Week is this:

What are you going to teach?

What word are you going to give to sustain the weary?

God has told us the Good News that he wants proclaimed. He has given us the words that need to be spoken, especially in this intense period of time, when we are about to face our deepest fears and experience our harshest terrors and most intense grief.

God has called us – each and every one of us here – to speak the truths that need to be spoken, to proclaim the grace that so many are dying to hear.

This is our holy calling, something of which we need to be reminded in this Holy Week.

For God gave us the tongues to teachers in order that we may speak God’s message of love and reconciliation, of justice and peace. God has given us the tongues of teachers so that we can proclaim to the world, to all of God’s creation, God’s dream for us, a dream of lives lived in love, not hatred; of lives filled with enough instead of lives lived in desperation; of fairness for all the people, and not just the select few.

We have been given the tongues of teachers so that we can teach

… even if it costs us … our jobs, our homes, our families, our freedom, our lives.

And God knows, it will cost us to speak God’s word to the world. We know that it will cost us … because we know the world (and sometimes, remember, that means us) does not want to hear God’s message, does not want to listen to what God wants, does not want to live in love or peace, and refuses to give justice, or even just enough, to those in need.

Jesus knew this particular truth. He knew the powers-that-be did not want to hear what he had to say, because then the powers-that-be wouldn’t be in power, would they? For they would have to give up all that they had in order to received all that God had to give.

So Jesus knew what was coming – he told everyone repeatedly that he would die for what he proclaimed, for what he represented, for what he was.

Facing his death, knowing how awful this whole sad affair would be, Jesus said “Yes” to God. Knowing that it would be painful beyond belief, that he would suffer beyond endurance, he still said, “Yes.”

The Lord God opened his ear, and he was not rebellious, he did not turn backward.

Even when he was betrayed by one of those whom he had called to discipleship.

And this is our call in Holy Week as well:

To be faithful, even when we feel betrayed.

Even when we are mocked.

Even when the world rejects us, spits on us, tries to beat us down.

We have nothing to fear. Isaiah assures us of that, proclaiming:

Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.

Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

God has called us – each of us and all of us – to proclaim God’s word, God’s will, God’s dream for all of God’s very good creation.

The Last Supper by Simon Ushakov

Our call, especially in this week, this holy week, when much of the world is either looking for chocolate eggs and giant white rabbits or is too frightened and weary to do much of anything but cower in despair, our call is to stand firm in our faith, to proclaim the Word and the love of the Lord to all people, to do the right thing no matter what.

It’s a weary world out there right now, folks. Trust me – bad news batters us daily, the economy scares us, our enemies are trying to terrorize us into submission.

God is calling us to sustain that world.

God has equipped us to do so.

So in this Holy Week, be strong, speak boldly, and live in the love that God has given us.


A sermon preach on Wednesday in Holy Week, 20 April 2011, Year A, at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Burke, Va.

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