A Word from the Balcony

One Sunday morning there was a neatly dressed young man who disrupted a worship service in a prominent suburban church. Right in the middle of the service this man stood up in the balcony and shouted in a clear voice, “I have a word from the Lord.”

Well, what do you think happened next? You had better believe that the ushers, without any hesitation, ran up the steps to the balcony and escorted this young man out the front doors of the church.

Thomas Long, from Princeton Seminary, heard about this event and says, “There is a kind of irony here. Because week after week those of us who preach stand in the pulpit and announce either implicitly or explicitly, ‘I have a word from the Lord.’  Nobody usually complains about it…(not usually, anyway). No ushers bound up into the pulpit to drag us away. Nobody tries to shout us down from the congregation. But if you let a stranger stand up in the balcony with ‘a word from the Lord,’ then all decorum breaks loose. An unexpected voice from an unexpected angle and everything is different.

It is true that in all probability this fellow in the balcony was a crank. Maybe he was running a little low on reality. But I don’t want that to get in the way of our understanding the point of this story. Maybe, just maybe, this young man was Isaiah, with a true and disturbing “word from the Lord.” Or maybe he was Ezekiel, who was half nuts and half prophet…a visionary and an eccentric. Maybe he was John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

The point is that God’s word often comes to us from the balcony. Sometimes it comes to us from the places we least expect it. It surprises us. It disturbs us. And sometimes, yes, it even embarrasses us. But then again, isn’t that just like God?

Tim Hobbs, Pastor

This Sunday I will talk about how John the Baptist helps us prepare ourselves for Christmas.   Come and Join us at 10:45!

Where have you heard the word of God in a surprising place or from a surprising source?  Share your experiences with us.

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