I preached yesterday on the subject of “testimony,” or telling our story. We are beginning a series at our church that looks at our spiritual growth through different aspects of our Christian life: prayer, fasting, racial righteousness, reading the Bible, etc. My sermon was the first of the series and I explored the reasons why we are called to be a people of testimony, as well as some of things that testimony is and some things it is not.
After church I had a conversation with two different individuals: the first told me how deeply moved and inspired she was by the sermon. The other stated that we need sermons that are practical: “people are tired of being inspired,” he said. “People want to be told what to do.”
These two both reflect the “flock” I am called to serve. I remember that at one point in my sermon yesterday, I looked out and saw a woman in the congregation visibly moved by what I was saying. There were tears in her eyes and she was nodding her head, her spirit joining with the words I spoke. On the other side of the congregation sat a different woman, and her eyes were closed: she was obviously asleep!
The pulpit can be, and should be, a very humbling place for preachers. We have this seemingly dualistic challenge of being both boldly present and powerfully insignificant at the same time. And as if this weren’t enough of a challenge, we have communities of real people who reflect the diversity of the goodness and gifts of God’s creation. And we are called to be a servant of them all.
It is so interesting being a part of a multi-ethnic, multi-class church. It makes for so many conversations like the one I had yesterday. I sometimes think that translation from English to Spanish and vice-versa is the least of our barriers! But as unique as we are, I know that it is true of every church that sincere believers sincerely differ in how they pursue their growth, their worship, their preaching, and their life together. Yet we are one, by a power that draws us and keeps us, by a power that uses our differences to humble us, instruct us, and save us from ourselves.