October 4, 2020 – Bishop’s Visit

[EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the preaching notes / bullet points from Bishop Steve Breedlove’s recent visit, where he commissioned Restoration Anglican Staunton as a congregation of the Diocese of Christ Our Hope]
Preaching text – Micah 5

Wonderful to be here, even though during this COVID time
We have been praying for you for years – beginnings as a small group our of Incarnation / Harrisonburg – always been a vision for a church in Staunton
Rejoicing with you that God has raised up and called Jay & Elizabeth (and Gus!) to be among you
Anticipate a bright future and wonderful ministry

There is so much on the minds and hearts of the people in our nation, on our minds and hearts, that we could talk about
But today my heart is to address the issue of leadership
Last Tuesday, the first presidential debate
I use that term euphemistically
No one calls it a debate: rugby scrum / mosh pit
Then Friday, the news that Pres Trump, the First Lady, and a number of other politicians and staffers, have COVID-19
Who knows how that will play out and impact the election?
Only God, the Lord of history

Nevertheless, in this moment, we are focused on leadership, getting ready to elect a president /
Because we all know the impact, for good or for ill, that flows through key leaders, emotions and fears are running high

My text for this discussion is not Fox News or CNN / not some columnist from WSJ, or even a good book (great ones out there)
I want to speak about leadership directly from the word of God
Micah 5 / Central to Micah’s prophetic message is the question of leadership –

Truth be told, it starts with a problem: Micah brings a prophetic indictment against leaders in Israel /
While he comments on leaders throughout the nation, he focuses on the leaders headquartered in Jerusalem
Jerusalem had an outsize impact on the whole nation
Only really large city / seat of government, worship, commerce
“As goes Jerusalem, so goes the nation.”

Three different groups
1. Business and community leaders were bent on personal material gain, power, and relentless exploitation of the poor, everyday people of the rural farmlands.
Result: Systemic injustices were spreading

2. Prophets and preachers were watering down their message to curry the favor of the powerful – they refused risking offense with the powers that be / took financial payoffs
Result: Spiritual compromise was spreading

3. Priests in the temple in Jerusalem were also bent on personal wealth and luxury
More importantly, they were bored with the message of God’s covenant love and purposes for Israel.
They had fallen into a “same-old, same-old” approach to worship and faith – and the
Result: nationwide sense of boredom and weariness toward God and the things of God.

Recap: In Micah’s time, the character and practices of the leaders of society  pervasive economic injustices, exploitation, and poverty / spiritual compromise (confusion about the faith) / boredom and weariness with worship  no regular renewal of love, faith, hope and a life of godliness ( the blessing of regular corporate worship)
Leadership has a massive impact on all of us.

The indictments flow through Micah 1-3 but in Ch’s 4 & 5, Micah begins to prophesy about a change that is coming
Time markers scattered throughout the chapters point to a new era and give it a name: 4:1 The Latter Days
Latter Days = an extended time of history / that itself moves history to climax
Everything between the first advent of Jesus (Bethlehem) and the New Creation
The Latter Days will bring both climactic judgment AND wonderful restoration / renewal

In Mic 5, God declares that, at the beginning of the Latter Days, he will raise up a leader like no other.
Implication: this leader’s identity, work, and influence will overshadow the entire Latter Days
As soon as I begin to reread the passage we read earlier, you will recognize the beginning words of the prophecy
Quoted in Matthew 2
We know that the leader God is promising is Jesus

As I walk through the prophecy, and make comments, I hope you will see, as I have, the glorious picture and promise of the impact of the rule of the Great Shepherd
My purpose this morning, as Restoration Anglican officially opens its doors, is simple: to make much of Jesus Christ
I hope / pray that you, like I, will hunger for more and more of the presence and reign of Jesus in our lives and ministries / in this church.
And that whatever else happens and is done, and all that flows from here in the years to come, will make much of Jesus
All that is done will honor him, and help people connect with him and grow throughout life to know him and walk with him
For he is a leader like no other.
No one else deserves our full allegiance and love.
No one else can bear the weight of our hopes and fears.

Listen: Basics about his Character, his Nature
v. 2: Bethlehem – too little to be among the clans of Judah
Tiny place / obscure
When Joshua (Joshua 15) allotted the promised land to the tribes of Israel, 115 cities and villages are listed as Judah’s territory.
Bethlehem is missing. It existed then, but too small & insignificant, too poor and modest, to be even mentioned in a list of 115 towns.
That prophecy embodies a theme that we find repeated again and again in Scripture – God uses the obscure, the small, the humble, the poor, the weak, the surprising
Israel itself us a prime example,
King David, the forgotten shepherd boy chosen and anointed by God, became the standard for kings in Israel,
Mary and Joseph were literally social and economic nobodies
The kind of people who comprise the Church: 1 Cor 1:26ff.
But out of this humble place, these humble beginnings, God would raise up for himself one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth if from ancient of days

Two ideas in v 2 that describe Jesus’ nature, or his character: his relationship to humanity and his relationship to God
It surprises me that the description of the character & identity of this leader, who we now rightly know as King of kings and Lord of lords, is so spare.
Just two ideas:
his humble origins / humility
his “connectivity” to God
Seeds that seem very small, mustard seeds /
But in fact, lead to a huge harvest of understanding and insight

Humility / Humble origins: humanly, completely ordinary / in fact, nothing about his humanity (in itself) that would grab our attention
To the degree we might talk about Jesus’ self-image, or self-awareness, RE: his human nature, his humanity – he would claim no basis of pride
Born in the same pain, labor, humility as every other person
Identified with the dirt-poor villagers and hard-scrabble families of Nazareth
Is 53: “No appearance as a man that we should desire him”
No reason to look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I’m a cut above the rest.”
His greatness had nothing to do with his humanity
Instead, all we can say is “ordinary and humble.”
Hebrews: Like us in all ways . . . yet without sin
Because of this, no person in any “caste” could ever say that Jesus does not understand her / know his pain & battle

What about his relationship to God?
From this perspective, he is completely distinct, completely different, than any other person
God says, FOR ME and FROM ME
From God
His coming forth is from of old, from ancient days: from eternity past.
This ruler, Jesus, comes into time from eternity.
One and only eternal King, Lord, Shepherd of humanity
Colossians 1:15-21
Raised up by God: calling from God, circumstances orchestrated to bring him to the fore
For God
Jesus, for his part, fully, without compromise, lived “before the face of God” / unto the Father, for the Father, and for the purposes of the Father
His testimony was unwavering: “I only do what the Father tells me to do”
Supremely: Not my will but thine be done”
Directing people to the Father: Upper Room Discourse, ~45X’s Jesus refers his disciples to the Father, to his actions and will, to their relationship with him
That position of total allegiance to the Father, total submission, lifelong trust and obedience, is a fountainhead of character and action

Sum it up: Who is Jesus? Fully human, fully God

Hiatus: v. 3: a season in which God gives the nation up –
reference to that 400 years of silence between the testaments
But then Jesus will be born / in the context of pain and labor (like every child).

Turn the focus to his Ministry: likewise only two ideas emphasized
Gathering the people of God – calling them to return to the Lord, and to gather into one flock
Shepherding the people of God
Again, only two phrases, but full of meaning, full of weight and substance

The word “return” is key: Jesus will call the people of God back to the Lord, and to one another
One flock, faithful to the Lord / knowing the Lord
Amazing to think of how Jesus calls people to himself / follow him
Look at the Gospels: His entire ministry was a relentless, unapologetic calling of people to himself
Calling the first disciples, “Follow me.”
Calling Zacchaeus
Calling the rich young ruler
Calling to the people of Jerusalem
Calling the Pharisee Saul
Calling, calling, gathering, gathering
Think about Jesus’ words in John 10:14-16

And then, as the people come and the flock is gathered, shepherding them in the strength of the Lord
Caring for them from then on
I was thinking about what “in the strength of the Lord” means
What came to mind was scenes from the Upper Room
John 13:1-3
 Tender service, loving and practical cleansing / restoration
Fully LOVING us
Feeding us with the spiritual food of his body and blood
John 14-16: teaching, assuring
Promising the gift of the Holy Spirit / explaining
Marvelous example of the ministry of the Great Shepherd
His ministry: Gathering / Shepherding

Then the impact of his ministry – again, two images:
Security & peace: a settled rest: vv. 4-5
“No more a stranger nor a guest but like a child at home”
BTW, that greatness, that impact of settled rest and security and stability, will be worldwide: v.4
The emergence of undershepherds: vv.5-6

Undershepherds: take the work and ways of the Great Shepherd into the field
By definition, they follow in his mold
Undershepherds who take their cues / shape their life and ministry according to the pattern of the Great Shepherd
Rooted in humility and grace appropriate to our humanity:
Keller: “We are far more sinful than we will ever believe, and far more loved than we will ever know.”
Living with all their energy in relation to God / echoes Jesus’s own relationship
From God (calling
For God: unto him / before his face: I Thess 2:1-6
God uses them to gather and shepherd the flock.
Calling people to Jesus
True shepherds: Committed to their ongoing care and protection and guidance
Conjures up images of feeding, leading, guarding and protecting, binding up wounds

There’s still another step:
Through good, godly leadership, God’s people who are scattered throughout the world are equipped to serve in two practical ways:
v. 7 – like dew, gentle and kind / which refreshes and brightens and beautifies –
v. 8 – like lions: fierce / present with authority in the world
Not personal or positional authority, but the authority of truth and love and God’s calling in our lives
Non-anxious: at peace
Exercising the work of separation, making distinctions / correcting and defeating all that is opposed to God.
This dual work of the people of God in the world is echoed by several other phrases
Salt and light
Wise as serpents, gentle as doves
Think of the oft-repeated phrase – “truth and love”

Jesus’ leadership is amazing
His character – which is ultimately reproduced and multiplied by those raised up under his authority
His ministry – sets the pace for the work of the church
The impact: security & peace / multiplication of godly leaders
Who do the same kinds of core ministries he does /
Ripple effect into the people of God scattered out in the world

Declare with JOY: We stand on the other side of this prophecy – Jesus has already come / the rollout has already started.
Significant implications for us:

Vision of the ministry of this church / its pastoral and clergy leaders / its lay leaders / the members of this body
“Vision” = values & identity (humble, ordinary, FOR God and his purposes), focus of actual ministries (gathering and shepherding), impact (security, peace, human leaders like Jesus), ripple effect (dew, lions)
Also implications for us as Christians in society in a world where the issue of leadership is being fiercely contested
Whenever humans gather into society, tribes, states, and nations, there are political systems / politicians and leaders, laws and governance
In our country, we have the opportunity and responsibility for participation in the process of electing our leaders
Everyone, representing every political and social agenda, says this is one of the most momentous elections in history
We have no option but to seek to be as informed, balanced, open-eyed as we possibly can be
To pray for wisdom, leading of the HS, as we participate

Several practical comments:

Remember always, the ONLY leader worthy of your hopes, affection, trust and allegiance is Jesus
Right-size your expectations and perspectives 
Maintain your ability / integrity to be like dew and like lions in our society, especially in this political environment
Seek to be agents of restraining evil
Stand and speak prophetically in any and every direction
No leader, no party, should be given a free pass
All should be subject to God’s prophetic call to biblically formed righteousness and justice
Understand always where real action is, where real hope is, where real peace and security comes in a fallen world
Put your eggs in the basket of the Kingdom of God
Do the work of the Kingdom: by word and deed, be intentional and active agents of the Gospel
Pray for peace that the Gospel might spread
We live in a time of violence and tribulation
No guarantees that history is NOT moving to a climax
It’s been terrible before, but western civilization on a large scale is measurably more conflictive, extreme than any time in the past several centuries
The ability to do wickedness has been exponentially multiplied
The broad benefits of Christian consensus have evaporated
BUT, in a very similar world, with even less foundational memory of the metanarrative of hope we hold, Paul says, “Pray for your leaders / pray for peace.”
Peter says, “Submit to your leaders / seek to live in your neighborhoods and communities as agents of blessing.”
Finally, do not be quick to judge each other.
Have good conversations, disagree respectfully, have POLITICAL discussions
Remember the meaning of the word “politic” – peaceful
Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it?
Let’s reset the definition back to the original

CONCLUSION: May seem like an odd sermon for my first official visit / early in the life of Restoration Anglican
Make much of Jesus
Character and nature of leadership, ministry, and the role of this church in the community
The applicability of the Gospel to the culture / the battles / the questions that every generation faces.