Ezekiel 33:30 As for you, mortal, your people who talk together about you by the walls, and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to a neighbor, "Come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD." 31 They come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they will not obey them. For flattery is on their lips, but their heart is set on their gain. 32 To them you are like a singer of love songs, one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; they hear what you say, but they will not do it. 33 When this comes--and come it will!--then they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
Laurence Olivier was honoured as one of the best actors of the 20th Century. A three time Golden Globe and BAFTA winner, he was also awarded two Oscars, five Emmy’s, and a knighthood. Yet despite the accolades he identified most with his role as Archie Rice in The Entertainer - a kind of fake who, as Archie says, can be warm and smiling and feel nothing. "It's all tricks," Olivier told writer Jack Kroll.
As a preacher I completely understand this. It is all too easy to turn a sermon into religious entertainment. The temptation is to look for better tricks to keep the attention of the congregation, because, as written in Ezekiel “they hear what you say, but they will not do it (Eze 33:32). I suspect that this is our besetting failure as human beings: we want our religion to entertain us rather than to change our lives.
2Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires.
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The Rewards of Ministry
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 84.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.