Breathe in clear thoughts of peace and reflection as you prepare to hear God speak to you through the scripture and the writer. Put aside all the things the world says you have to accomplish today and use this time to rest in God’s presence.
12 Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
How many times have you re-read passages in the Bible, and have the Holy Spirit point out something in a verse to you that you’ve never noticed before? Of course, it’s been there for two thousand-plus years, but it hits you as if it were the first time you’ve ever seen it. “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” This time, however, was different-the lectionary reading brought to mind: the Goat Man, Ches McCartney.
As a child reared in the church in the 1960s, I noticed verses on signs and in some store windows of my small, rural Georgia town, and on large wooden or concrete crosses often found on the roadsides. These were placed by the Goat Man, an itinerant preacher who traveled the US in his wagon pulled by a multitude of goats, preaching fire and brimstone sermons. People would go see him (and smell him- he rarely bathed), talk to him, buy his postcards, and listen to him beg people to accept Christ as their savior. My mother thought he was nasty and wouldn’t allow us out of the car, but my dad spoke to him several times. He said that “the Goat Man” really knew his Bible, and enjoyed those brief conversations. The verse on the crosses Mr. McCartney planted by the roadsides admonished “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD:” from Amos 4:12. Ches McCartney was also said to be crazy-perhaps he was, but he didn’t want to think anyone went without the Good News that “JESUS SAVES.” And preaching from a rustic goat wagon instead of from a beautiful pulpit, certainly got people’s attention.
Now in 2020, the year of incredible change for all of us, none of us has to preach from a smelly roadside, but do we reach out to people in new, different, and in unusual ways when necessary? Does Scripture ever hit us in a new way, prompting new methods of delivering the Good News? Maybe it should.
God of all creation, thank you for using the most unusual of your servants to bring the Word to a world that often overlooks the everyday and ordinary. May we have the courage to do what we have to do in order to get Word out there.
Go with God!