A lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” – Luke 10: 25-28
During my forty-one years as a minister’s spouse I have listened to my fair share of sermons. Rebekah worked in three churches as a student intern, was on staff as associate pastor in Pensacola for 14 years, has been senior pastor (Brandon and Wake Forest) since 1996, and – in addition to countless weddings and funerals – has been invited to speak as a visiting minister literally scores of times.
All told I’ve probably heard her preach (best estimate) 1,500-2,000 sermons.
I mention this because, while every message is important and gets every ounce of available prayer, creativity and effort, there have been a dozen or so occasions where bringing God’s word held an unusual and at times pivotal sense of responsibility and gravitas. Examples include immediately following 9-11, the morning after a tragic loss, responding to inflamed racial tensions, the first Sunday in a new church….
Preaching truth and hope:
Yesterday, because preaching God’s word to God’s people following the tragic, historic, disturbing, dangerous events in our nation’s Capitol January 6th is a critically important responsibility. People need to hear sound doctrine, uncompromising truth, good news, inspiration, and promise. They came, and they listened.
Such a hunger.
Rebekah, having heard me play “Mercy Now” in Saturday’s post (“We all need a little mercy now”), asked me to sing the song live in church, after her message. Thanks, songwriter Mary Gauthier, I don’t think the words could have been any more appropriate for the day.
It is an amazing privilege it is to be involved in ministry together, to be part of bringing the Good News to people when it is so very important to be in community and to listen to God’s word.
There is only one sure way forward in this broken time, and that is some kind of widespread spiritual awakening.
Let’s wake up!
I say “awakening” rather than revival because what we all need is to “wake up;” to become alive and alert, to let the Spirit breeze in and to understand what it means to have our foundation rooted in something other – something far greater – than ourselves.
I don’t think we’d all be so caught up in politics, and anger, and contentiousness, and having to be right all the time if our focus was on loving and serving one another.
Rebekah took the opportunity, and she preached her heart out. She was forthright enough that she probably troubled some waters. But that’s okay; especially if it encourages us to wake up.
Or, as Jesus said, “Do this and you will live!”