The Engine Room of the Mother Ship I Corinthians 1: 18-25

The engine room of the Mother Ship is fueled by the message of the cross.  We humbly lift up this foolish symbol of our faith, so it may draw others to Christ.  The harsh emblem prevents us from being too proud of our words that convey the message; so we don’t confuse persons from whence power comes.  Thus, we should discard unnecessary anxiety that wrongly thinks the message is dependent on what we craft to say or how we portray it.

The Bishop told a young minister without warning he wanted him to speak before the gathered convocation.  The young man shyly replied, “I have nothing prepared.”  The head of the church encouraged “Let the Holy Spirit guide.”  The young man went to the back of the stage to contemplate.  He saw the Bishop’s bible and decided to take a peek.  Finding the bishop’s notes for tomorrow night, he looked closer; thinking they would inspire him.  He was called to the podium before inspiration came.

He rushed out with the bible and stepped to the pulpit.  He opened to the place where notes laid and looked at them again.  He related the first point of the Bishop’s sermon.  It went so well he preached the whole message.  When he finished, the congregation was spellbound.  He sat down and the Bishop complimented him.  He said “I am amazed how you have been inspired to say exactly what I was going to say tomorrow night.’  He then added, “I am not sure what I am going to say now since I have nothing else prepared.”  The young minister looked with a smug grin and said, “Don’t worry, just let the Holy Spirit guide.”

Paul says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to us being saved it is the power of God.”  It is a wise message, but it is not dependent on knowledge.  We worry in declaring the message of the cross we will appear as dupes in a world where, bigger is better, we look out for number one, and might makes right.  It seems foolish in our world to claim we receive grace from a purported criminal hanging on a cross, who is our source of life and the hope of our salvation.  The spirit is ever-ready to guide us to speak this foolish, but powerful message.

What brings the crew and passengers together on the Mother Ship is our common faith that chooses to live in a relationship of trust with the one who hung on the cross.  We have come to know its life saving power by simply speaking of it boldly and simply listening to it intently.  In choosing to speak and listen, we are acting on our belief the message of the cross fuels the Mother Ship; activating endless power for the journey.

The engines of the Mother Ship are propelled forward when we simply and boldly speak the message of the cross.  The speaker of the message keeps the ship on course when her or his words simply support the message of the cross; not letting their words take away from the Word.  Keeping it simple is hard for those who have a passion for the message.

Erin, our daughter, who we went to see this weekend in Chicago as she begins her first semester of seminary once, told a parishioner whom she sat by, “All my dad does his talk, talk, talk.”  The adult tried to admonish her by saying, “That’s what your daddy does and I like it.”  Erin reinforced her opinion by saying, “Well, I don’t!”  That could hurt my feelings and cause me to add words to make her and others happy.  But, the responsibility of the speaker is to “talk, talk, talk” of the message that fuels the Mother Ship.

There is no need to dress up the message, so we look good on the Mother Ship.  We need not act teen-like, who object to reasonable purchases because they won’t be caught dead in certain apparel that only kids that are nerds wear.  When we speak the message of the cross, we don’t want to be nerds either.  We want to be stylish, popular, and well-liked as the next person.  So, we keep up with the latest trends, speaking words that pass for cool.  In our effort to not be something, we can end up denying our shadowed self with window dressings, and robbing ourselves of the opportunity to be made whole by the message of the cross.

The cross is the engine that makes the Mother Ship sail.  The badge of belief for every passenger is an ancient instrument of execution, which makes us whole.  When the engines of the Mother Ship throttle up; we are speaking boldly of love and law; life and death, as we speak of the message of the cross.  When the Mother Ship is out at sea, she speaks of resisting evil and repenting of sin, and other less than desirable matters, as we speak of the message of the cross.  These are parts of its message.

The Mother Ship can lose her way, if she forgets there is real power in that simple message that fuels her engines.  We must not stifle our words; fearing we will appear as fools, worrying we will cause budgets to be reduced or crowds to thin.  Passengers and crew must not give into temptation, thinking we can escape these realities by dancing around the essence of the message.  We are to simply and boldly speak it’s message; knowing in doing so, we speak of the truth that sets people free.

A forebear of King Gustaf, the King of Sweden, was also known as King Gustaf.  He stopped for Sunday service at small church.  The pastor was so flustered that in every prayer and throughout the sermon he carried on about the king.  Later a gift of a large cross arrived along with a note from the king.  He instructed it be hung at the back of the sanctuary, so speakers were forced to look upon the cross as they spoke.  This was to insure that the King of Kings, who is the true subject, would not be forgotten when anyone speaks boldly of the message of the cross.

The engines of the Mother Ship are propelled when the hearer listens intently to the message of the cross.  Listening requires effort in perfecting the skill of understanding what is really being said.  Organic listening in our world is difficult where we prefer words processed; squeezed, sliced, diced, mashed, or pureed, so they are easier to digest.

The discomfort the message of the cross creates is it reminds us of the person we pretend to be is always shadowed by the person we really are.  So, we keep this difficult message at arm’s length, tuning out the harder parts of it.   We must be careful to not be caught in the trap of not listening intently enough; lest we remain untouched by needed words of change that only the cross can provide for our world and lives.

Listening and engaging the unadorned words of this message of the cross; is an act of trust that we will be filled with energy needed to travel to the places God calls.  Thus, we should resist thinking the words that make up the message of the cross are over our heads.  This can keeps our heads too low, making it more difficult to hear deeper meanings of words spoken.  Hearing the message of the cross allows us to experience the needed power for living.  Passengers and crew, raise up your heads, listen intently to the message of the cross, so we hear the news that is good.

There is no ultimate explanation on what happened on the cross.  There have been volumes written explaining the phenomenon and they all fall short to some degree.  It defies logic that Christ the captain of the fleet had to die in darkness and thirst, so we may sail in light and feast at the grand buffet of grace, while sailing the open waters of our life.  I know this much about the message of the cross, it introduced me to ship’s captain, who wooed me aboard, gave me a undeserved berth to see God’s world, provided passage throughout the days of my life, and helped me every time I hit the rough seas.  Though, I cannot explain it, I have experienced it.

The Mother Ship engines are fueled by the foolish message of the good news of Christ.  We will have power for our voyage as we speak and listen to the foolish wisdom of the cross.  Paul said the same thing another way in Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.”

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Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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