This last year I spent a lot of time thinking about where I wanted to lead our college ministry. The question that was going through my head was, “One year from now, in June of 2008, who do I want, or desire them to be?” With that question in mind we set out to plan a year that would get us to that place. And that place is where a people, specifially the college ministry here at Bel Air were more aware of what God’s Word has to say about issues of social justice, poverty, wealth, etc., and that that awareness would move them to be people of action.
On our bulletin every week I have a sort of mission statement, or purpose statement for our Fall Series. It reads, “Fall Series…By studying the prophets, our goal is to raise our levels of awareness concerning the issues they preached about…poverty, injustice, idolatry, immorality…and by exposing us to their writing we hope to bring about a level of conviction that will move us towards being people of action.”
So this Fall we are spending our Wednesday night teaching time in the minor prophets. We actually began the late summer with a look at some of the major prophets and we have now moved into the minor prophets. Actually, what would be more correct, is that we are looking at the books and works of those writers collected in the section of prophetic writings in the Bible. Some were priests, some where shepherds and some were prophets.
In choosing the minor prophets I tried to pick themes that resonated through the writings of most of them and at other times I have chosen to pick well known or familiar passages, hoping that they see them in a new light.
We began with Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones in chapter 37; we then moved to Isaiah’s commission in chapter 6; then to Jeremiah’s encounter with the new covenant in chapter 31. These well known passages of scripture set the tone and foundation for us. This idea of God taking dry bones and bringing them to life; giving us a vocation and commissioning us; and having the new covenant written our hearts. This seemed like a good progression.
We have now been in the minor prophets for two weeks. We began last week by looking at Amos 7:1-9 and the words of the LORD as he declares to his people through Amos that he will be their plumb line. A great image in teaching by the way. And last night we looked at Haggai 1:1-15. I love preaching on Haggai, because honestly, how many of us have preached on that book. My students looked at my like I was crazy…not really, but that’s what it seemed.
The passage in Haggai 1:1-15 says,
A Call to Build the House of the LORD
1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua [a] son of Jehozadak, the high priest:
2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”
3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.
13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.
Powerful stuff. Verses 3-6 are so powerful and a great passage to teach on especially as we live in a culture that is so consumeristic, but seems less fulfilled than ever before. Then in verses 7-11 the LORD states that he is going to withhold from the people and the land.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage and I wanted to convey that to my students last night….that if we are going to be God’s people, then we need to be giving and loving and generous people. Not people who are stingy or who oppress the poor and those around us. We need to be people who stop buying and consuming things to make us feel better.
I feel like the message got across last night…..it is at least a starting point. I coupled the message with the Rob Bell NOOMA video, Rich. Great, great video.
And what of Shane Claiborne since I mentioned him in the title. Because on January 15 he is coming to Bel Air to speak at The Foundry which is our young adult ministry. In thinking of this year I wanted the Fall to raise students awareness of being more socially aware….and in January Shane is coming to help us see what that looks like, and how my students can embody and live out that awareness.
So it’s really three parts this year: Raise awareness of social justice issues through the minor prophets; show what that action may look like through people like Shane Claiborne; send our ministry out to be people who take action.