Many people think of the term “leftovers” as food that is uneaten or the extra that is saved for later. I wish to focus on a different type of leftovers…the parts of a sermon that do not make it through the final edit; the balled-up pieces of paper that hit the floor by the trash can; the parts that are cut out like film footage and forgotten forever. Especially the parts that had the potential to be a rabbit trail. Yet I wonder, “Could these not these be used to build a sermon?”
I wonder to myself, “What if some of my best work never made it to the pulpit.” So let me start with a wadded-up piece of paper edited out of last week’s sermon. It has the words of Ezekiel prophesying about the Messiah. He proclaimed that God’s chosen people felt that they had been forgotten while in exile. They were begging for God to repeat the wonders of the past. They wanted a showcase of wonders of God’s power, might, and sovereignty that would literally blow their enemies away.
I wonder at their asking for the wonders. The original wilderness-wanderers asked that God stop scaring them all the time. “Tell the LORD to appear only to you, Moses,” they cried. I guess the thunder, earthquakes, wind-burst, pillars of smoke and fire, and other “wonders” of miracles and plagues were a little too much for them. Even poor Moses had to wear a veil since so much glorious “wonder” was radiating off his face and head after time spent with God.
For centuries, the wonderful law was seen as the people’s only hope. For centuries, the prophets kept preaching for God’s people to get ready for the “wonder of Messiah” with the promise that God Himself will come down to shepherd His sheep. For centuries, the hope and faith of the people was that a wonderful Savior (a remnant of the house of David) would come.
We as Christians believe that the “wonder of all wonders” was not the clashing of thunder and violent earthquake (as we think of Good Friday); nor a wind-burst (recorded on Pentecost Sunday); nor any other phenomenon (such as the Bethlehem star, archangel appearing, and heavenly hosts singing heralds). We believe that the “Wonder of All Wonders” came one night in Bethlehem as the Son of God, the promised Messiah, to save us.
While I understand that Jesus came first for the Jews to fulfill the prophesy of coming for their redemption, I also know that He came secondly to provide the light of salvation for the nations of Gentiles. I will always be appreciative of the wonderful mercy and grace that comes as salvation for my soul. And like the Phoenician woman who asked, “Are not the dogs allowed the crumbs,” I will always be grateful for and content with the leftovers from the table of my Master.