My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I’m 6’4″ tall without shoes. And, let me tell you, I feel every inch of that. Whether it’s smacking my head on something low-hanging (branches, oven hoods, cabinets, etc.) or getting into a car that was designed for, well, 90% of the rest of the population, I know my height painfully well.
Add to that my no-so-quiet voice (can you believe I have been called loud?) and we have a recipe for authority or disaster… depending upon the day, the content, and how I present myself.
You see, height is a funny thing. Although I didn’t pick it, it’s effects upon me are undeniable. Have you ever tried to relate to a five-year-old when you are towering over them by more than a foot and a half? Not good. Not good at all.
People have known that height imparts authority since, well, nearly forever: grand monuments (seen any miniature pyramids or palaces recently?), platform shoes, and, my personal favorite, high pulpits. For decades, churches built higher and higher pulpits from which their preachers could preach (see attached picture). Not only did this place the preacher closer to God, but it allowed him/her to tower with authority over all of those who were listening.
Which brings me to our Gospel Reading for this week. It is Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (or, better translated as, on the “level.”). It stands in opposition to Jesus’s sermon in Matthew’s Gospel from the Mount(ain). Both carry some of the beatitudes (blessed are the…), but where they occur are very different locations. And, my brothers and sisters, don’t underestimate the power of location when it comes to oration.
Ponder this as the week crawls on ahead… from where do you want your sermons delivered? On high? On the level? And, what are your motivations for this? We each need to hear God’s Word in differing ways. Does elevation have anything to do with it?