A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Message from Vic Casad: December 12, 2017
Notes from the Heartland
My mind is going back to last week’s lectionary readings for the 2nd Sunday in Advent. There was the passage from Isaiah 40: “A voice cries out … make straight in the desert a highway for our God” and “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings.” And then from Psalm 85: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people” and “Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.” From the epistle reading from 2 Peter 3 was: “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace.”
The reading from the Gospel of Mark 1 highlights the message of John the Baptizer. Echoing the refrain from Isaiah 40 about a voice crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord,” it goes on to tell of John’s proclamation in the wilderness: a baptism by water for the forgiveness of sins and that the more powerful one is coming after him who “will baptize you with Holy Spirit.”
What I connected with in all of these passages was the vision of the herald. Traditionally, the role of the herald was that of the royal messenger sent out by the monarch to announce a royal decree or official announcement. Sometimes it was a message of ill tidings such as a new taxation, and sometimes it might be glad tidings such as a royal wedding or a royal birth.
In seminary I remember reading a book by Avery Dulles entitled, Models of the Church. In this book Dulles lists six models, metaphors, or dominant modalities that might describe the contemporary church. This list includes: The Church as Institution; The Church as Mystical Communion; The Church as Sacrament; The Church as Servant; and The Church as Community of Disciples. Also in the list is: The Church as Herald.
His point is that there are some churches that self-identify themselves as living witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ in the world. They are voices crying in the wilderness to this ever wandering secular society that there is a Savior whose name is Jesus who has come to give you life and life abundantly. They are living proclamations of the good news in their neighborhoods and communities. They are modern heralds of glad tidings throughout the year. They are the living manifestation that the unconditional love of God has come down at Christmas and dwells among us, and it is their desire to share that love with you.
My prayer is that every church will see itself as the herald of glad tidings this Advent/Christmas season and then keep singing all through the year … “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, Hail the Sun of Righteousness, Light and Life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings” … Go forth and proclaim, O ye herald angels of good tidings!
In His Service and Yours,