The original Christmas story,
beginning in Luke chapter 1, verse 26, tells how the angel Gabriel was sent by
God to a small town called, Nazareth (many of my generation remember a rock
band by the same name). Gabriel told Mary, a virgin (See Matthew 1:24-25), that
she would conceive a child in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit
(Immaculate Conception or Implanted Incarnation). At first the young girl was
After a brief discussion with Gabriel, Mary says the
words, “Here I Am” (some translators chose, “Here Am I”). The Greek Scriptures use the phrase, “Edzo’-E-May”
(sounds like), which directly translates to “Here I Am,” but a deeper meaning
is, “Do what you will with me.”
When we review the Prophets that came long before this
occasion, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and others, we find the same
response to the call of God to service, “Here I Am”. In Hebrew the word is,
“Hineni”, which some have mistakenly taken to mean “I am here”.
However, research tells us there is a great difference.
“Hineni” clearly means, “I am yours, do with me as you will”. It is an image of
willingness to accept whatever God is doing with us.
There is the rub. All believers in the one Almighty God,
should be willing to answer God’s call to service with the response, “Do with
me as you will.” That is a tough sell in today’s world. We can’t stand to
give-up control. We can’t imagine letting anyone or anything control us.
The call of God has never been an easy one. The prophets
were killed. If we surrender to God’s call, we are beginning a journey of
selflessness. Now, that really goes against the grain of most people.
Why are churches of all denominations and many non-denominational
ones as well, declining? What is behind the general loss of interest in church?
It is, in part, the fault of some who have used church for their own financial
gain, rather than for the benefit of the world.
If the church is not deeply entrenched in mission and
outreach to real people in the real world, it will fail. In fact, it must fail.
God’s call to service is not about personal gain for a few, while many give
from the heart to support it.
Why are so few
people ready to respond to God’s call with the answer, “Here I Am” (Do with me
as you will)? Perhaps because the work of the Holy Spirit has been denied by
many churches. Perhaps the “business” of church has overshadowed the “purpose”
I am suggesting a deeper spiritual focus. One that seeks
to know God and be known by God. A focus that builds-up our fellow humans,
rather than drown then in accusations of sin. Think about it. We, the church,
can be better.
Blessings and Peace to You
ST. ANDREW’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
555 E. Third Street | Grove, OK 74344