Laura is our church’s communion steward, which involves a great of time and effort.
Every month Laura arranges for all the servers at each service, makes sure the trays are filled with cups of grape juice, searches the area grocery stores for loaves of King’s Hawaiian Bread, sets up the elements on the altar for both services, cleans the altar and chancel rail after each service, and has to fight off Adrian, who insists because she is a “poor widow,” and the Bible says we must take care for poor widows, she should be allowed to take home any leftover King’s Hawaiian Bread. Laura has a lot to stay on top of.
Now that we are in Advent, our worship services are getting more complicated and full. This means for this Sunday, we have Confirmation and Holy Communion, which took a great deal of planning and coordination to make sure we stayed within our regular hour of worship.
Monday, I got the following text from Laura. I was suspicious. She wrote, “Melissa told me this coming Sunday is Confirmation. Will we have Communion as usual, or the next week?” I responded, “Yes.”
Then she said, “Communion as usual—with no sermon???” That was the moment I had my answer. Laura was angling for a very short sermon or no sermon at all. This got me thinking.
A Protestant worship service revolves around the scripture reading and sermon. All the liturgy, music, and prayers, are intended to orient the congregation towards the God’s spoken word through the pastor. It is the only time when you hear “preaching” in a positive light. Think about it this way.
If your spouse, child, or employee said, “Stop preaching to me,” would that be a positive, affirming statement? No. It would not be seen as a negative thing. But what I do for a living, is seen as just the opposite.
We believe God is so powerful, God can use fallible, imperfect preachers, to communicate to people sitting in the pews, God’s unending love, support, and guidance. Only God could do something like this. That’s what makes sermons such a miracle. It’s all about God’s activity because the preachers, left on their own without God’s intervention, are wondering around in the dark, bumping into walls, and pointing people in the wrong direction.
Still, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ask for a longer sermon. Brevity seems to be the key. I’m good with that as long as God’s message comes shining through. That’s all that really matters.
In this confusing world, with so many distractions and different issues clamoring for our attention, we believe God uses preaching to keep us on track. That’s why Paul tells Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
So, just for the record, there will be a sermon this coming Sunday. It won’t be as long as the usual sermons our church hears on Sunday mornings, but it will be there.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, please open my ears so I may hear your will for my life. Open my eyes so I may see ways to serve you. Open my mind so I may be conscious of your Holy Spirit’s guidance. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
We need as much guidance from God as we can get. The good news is God is always speaking. All we have to do is open our ears, focus our minds, and God will do all the heavy lifting. That’s because God is very good.
Also, it is very clear Laura really needs to listen to the sermon. She needs all the help she can get.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.