The power of the preacher came to the world’s attention a few months ago when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in St George’s Chapel. The Most Reverend Michael Curry from the Episcopal Church of North America ‘preached up a storm’ and many were amazed at his charismatic style and engaging content. The press dined out on it for weeks. He began his sermon like this:
‘The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”’
Focusing his entire sermon on the liberating, releasing and saving power of God’s love, Curry exuberantly introduced unsuspecting viewers to a radically different kind of love whose source is God, in whose power the world could be turned upside down. It was easy that afternoon to believe in this and to desire it, so inspiring was the rhetoric, and not only the Christians among us. Love is the only way. Who would dare to say the sermon as a medium of communication is dead, after hearing Michael Curry preach?
We may have come to today’s text thinking the ‘word of God’ refers to the Bible itself, but in Old Testament times the ‘dabar Elohim’ invariably meant the action of God speaking through the prophets. Rewind to the earlier chapters of Hebrews and you will see that it’s to Jesus that the writer is referring, as ‘living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow…’ (verse 12). Whether it’s spoken by a shepherd-prophet from Judah, interpreted by a twenty-first century American black preacher in a royal chapel, or a parable told by Jesus himself, the word of God has the power to pierce through the extraneous, right to the core of our being.
Word of God,
Thank you for all who have spoken
Words of love to us,
Words of transformation,
Words to encourage.
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.