The PreacherKenneth Tanner
If you find yourself in hell, a victim of natural disaster, drowned by your own ruined heart and participations in evil, do not be afraid or lose hope; a preacher is going to come, and the preacher is the crucified and risen creator, who is patient and who loves the world.
This preacher remembers his covenant with every living thing on earth; he remembers mercy, not our sins.
Unlike the ancient gods, whose malevolence or indifference must be appeased for favors, this preacher enters our world of tsunamis and wars and plagues as one of us to endure the waves and the violence and the pestilence, to suffer hunger and thirst and trials.
This preacher drowns with the disobedient outside the ark, with the chariot armies of the Egyptians, with the lost tribes of Israel, and with us.
He does not want to be the only righteous human while the rest of us, his unrighteous brothers and sisters, go under. His baptism is our baptism.
Our common ancestors failed to keep a fast but this preacher keeps his. Our ancestors grasped for equality with God but this preacher embraces human limitations. And because he does these human things as God, the one human nature we all share is granted his permanence by grace.
His record of resistance to evil is now the story of our life as a gift. His victory in wilderness temptation is our victory.
And what does this preacher preach?
The time is here. The kingdom has arrived. Repent. Believe this gospel (even if it all seems too damn good to be true). It’s trustworthy. We can venture everything on Jesus Christ, our human brother, with us in all of our prisons, hells to which he holds the keys.
Lectionary preaching used to be a chore. Now it is quite literally life to me.
Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15