Sunday during the children’s sermon, Mark began to experience some difficulty. Luckily, the doctors in the sanctuary immediately came to his aid. The good news is that Mark is doing fine.
He sent me the following email Sunday afternoon. After reading it, I got his permission to share it with you: “Tom, sorry for the interruption! Was going to say it was an anxiety attack over sermon length for Mother’s Day. Needless to say we have a first class medical staff on hand at church. All checked out OK at ER, thing was dehydration, none the less was not fun, but glad nothing worse. I’ll try to do better next Sunday!”
All Mark said was that he was filled with anxiety over the length of the sermon. I take that to mean that he was REALLY concerned that my sermon was going to be too short. But I may be getting it all wrong. It’s subject to interpretation.
If we aren’t careful, we do the same thing with scripture. We interpret it in such a way that it supports our biases instead of letting it speak for itself. And when we do this, it no longer becomes God’s word. We decide who’s in, who’s out, who God loves, who God hates, what is appropriate for worship, what is not, the list goes on and on….
So let me take a moment to say exactly what the primary message of scripture is all about. God loves. God loves everyone. God loves whites, blacks, browns, yellows, greens, and purples. God loves the tall, the short, the skinny, the fat, the bald, the educated, the non-educated, the mentally challenged, the geniuses, the tattooed, those that listen to classical, country, hip hop or rock music, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, those that go to church, those that don’t, feminists, misogynists, bigots, social activists, white supremacists, Nazis, Communists, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, members of the National Rifle Association, those fighting to change gun ownership laws, even those who have anxiety attacks so they don’t have to listen to my sermons.
Scripture tells us that God loves everyone. This does not mean that God is pleased with everyone, but that never negates God’s love. God wants to save everyone. This is why Peter says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
And in this process, God expects us to do our part. In a society that is filled with animus and evil, God wants us to tell everyone of his love and that through his Son there is true salvation, peace, and joy. We are God’s hands, feet, and mouth in a world that does not know him.
If we truly love Jesus, then we are willing to risk on his behalf. That’s what the Bible tells us.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I humbly ask that you use me to bring others into your wonderful light of love. Remove from me any cowardice or hesitancy. Let me speak your name with boldness and joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Because of my interpretation of Mark’s ambiguous email, I will preach an extra-long sermon next Sunday. It is the least I can do as a compassionate, caring pastor.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.