This week is really a round table. I’ve been indulging in some pretty political sermons this summer and was thinking it was time to get back on track, especially considering I now only have 6 weeks left in this call. But, I mean, how do you not? How do you think of anything else? As Canadian Anglicans most of us are familiar with efforts to sponsor refugees. But now, with the picture, and the scope, and being on the brink of violence breaking out in Europe, it feels like a drop in the bucket.
Today’s post is really just a way to open up a space on this blog for preachers to process what we will preach on Sunday. Sometimes we just need to wait another week for good news.
Thankfully, the lectionary does not leave us stranded. There is so much, I don’t know how it can not apply. We have that memorable collect, “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people…” Are we seeing the answer to his prayer already? Can we continue to pray this for our own hearts, as well as the hearts of others?
I wonder what it would be like to invite everyone to read Proverbs together, then sit and contemplate? What if we spray painted across every brick wall and chain link fence that keeps people out? OK. Maybe just hang a banner.
The Psalm promises God’s protection. A comfort to those who are suffering. It is not, however, a comfort to us. God, preserve us from our comfort.
James is, again, so appropriate. There are some interesting memes out there about how, when a tragedy occurs, the number of tweets and updates from politicians and celebrities promising “prayers” and “thoughts” is completely out of proportion from other actions. Prayer is more than sitting in our pews and saying words. It is a constant breaking of the heart so open it is compelled to bring forth the kingdom. This week, the distinctions fell apart. Let’s keep it that way.
The gospel reading, particularly of the Syrophoenician woman, also reminds me of the Parable of the Unjust Judge. God responds to persistence with love and mercy. How do we respond? When the voices and cries get louder, we tend to shut down. May we respond with compassion as well.
So, please, write, share, be kind. We’re in this together.
By Kyle Norman September 5, 2015 - 10:11 am
I must be honest, I naturally have an aversion to the type of preaching that ‘comments’ on the events of the world. Because of this I usually shy away from the type of preaching that is overly political. Because of this I can be charged with ‘not knowing’ or ‘not caring’ about what is going on in the world. I know this about myself. Sometimes I feel I must change, sometimes I feel I really don’t.
Because of this, I don’t know if I will change my sermon. I am speaking about the two healings, and it is something I feel my church needs to hear, and I feel it is the message that God gave me. So, stubbornly perhaps, I’m going to stick with it. I will however be instructing the intercessors to include this in their prayers.
I guess my other thought is that this heart-wrenching image has been everywhere for the past few days. We have all seen it and have had our one-sided conversations about this. Part of me thinks that church has to be a sanctuary from all the politics, the horror, the hurt. It is a place of redemption, not a place of campaign. We gather to interact with the Good news of God in Christ who will naturally “Stir us up” as we are united with him. Sure using the lectionary’s reference to the ‘poor’ in order to make statements about refugees may garner us the label of ‘being relevant’, but I just don’t know if that is always the most faithful approach to the preaching task.
Like I said, it’s just me, and I know and respect that people have differences of opinions.
By Dawn Leger September 5, 2015 - 10:37 am
Kyle, every preacher needs to make choices for their congregations. As I said, I was hoping to choose a more community minded sermon this Sunday, but the Spirit compels me to do otherwise. I appreciate your judgement and your discernment in preaching what the Spirit compels you to speak to the hearts of your congregation.
I have to challenge your understanding of church as sanctuary. As Canadians who participate fully in a political system and who are not fleeing war in our country by the millions, we do not require sanctuary. Sanctuary is not simply for those who are tired of rhetoric or images of injustice, but for the victims of political and economic oppression. It is sanctuary for those who are hurt and grieving, not for those who are simply uncomfortable and inconvenienced.
And, I reject your suggestion that talking about the greatest refugee crisis our world has seen since WWII is simply an attempt at relevant preaching. How can we as preachers pray for God to Stir us up and not exhibit a stirring up of our own hearts?
This post is not a cry for preachers to ditch their sermons and talk about the refugee crisis. In fact, this crisis is not just for one week and, as Church, we are being challenged from within and without to respond in full and faithful way. This post is simply a place for those who feel called to change tack in the middle of their long weekend to have some fellowship and discuss ideas.
By Kyle Norman September 5, 2015 - 3:22 pm
I get what you are saying Dawn. And I hear you when you say that commenting on the Refugee crisis is not just a jab for relevance. Perhaps I overstated things.
I guess my struggle is that there is always something, isn’t there? This week it is refugees, last week it was Ashley Madison, next week it will be something else. As you said, you have been talking a lot about ‘politics’ the past couple of weeks, and you wanted to get away from it. The danger for me is that we have sermons that are ‘on track’ – as you say – which are only inserted whe we can’t think of some crises to comment on. Again, perhaps this is unfair.
When I talk about church as sanctuary, please don’t mistake it as “lets put our head in the sand and forget the struggles of the world.’ Perhaps an oversimplification? I guess what I am saying is that my sermon will address the need for us as people to fling ourselves shamelessly upon Jesus as the source of our healing and put-togetherness. I may not say the words ‘refugee’ or “Aylan” or ‘Government’ but I heartily feel that this is a message that is as needed as others.
My two cents anyway.
By Dell Bornowsky September 11, 2015 - 12:18 pm
Dawn and Kyle,
I think it is not a matter of whether sermons are “political” or not. Any preaching of Jesus as Lord is, among other things, essentially political and subversive. If Jesus is true Lord then Caesar is not. Governments that have persecuted millions of Jesus followers fear this idea. And I think the failure of the church to preach the political implications of Jesus teaching has contributed to our participation in such epic fails as the crusades (from which we are still reaping consequences).
Dawn, I like the Proverbs idea. The one that occurs to me in reference to refugees is Prov 21:13 “ Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor, will also cry out and will not be answered.”
I do feel a twinge of caution (fear?) when I consider preaching the even stronger corollary: “Those nations whose foreign policy causes the suffering and death of innocents in other countries will experience the suffering and death of innocents in their own country.”