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4 Responses

October 20, 2009

As someone who has only preached two sermons, the second of which I delivered just this past Sunday, I suppose commentary beyond “Great job, Matt!” or “Awesome sermon!” is understandably hard to come by while greeting my hearers as they file out of the sanctuary.

Now I certainly don’t want to write off the importance of a kind word of encouragement as I continue to discern my ministerial call. I mean, I’m not so sure I’m ready for complete honesty just yet!

But that being said, there were four responses to my message that I particularly appreciated on Sunday.

In no particular order, the first of the four responses came as a question: “Did you really mean it?” The question was so direct that I only knew to answer with “I hope so.”

The question came again—“Did you mean it?”

Ummm…“I think so?”

“Did you mean it?”

“Yes, I did!”

“Good!”

That’s a fair question. And it’s one I’ll continue to ask myself when it comes to the issue of belief in the Crucified God.

The second response struck me in its sincerity. The individual leaned in and said, simply, “We needed that.” As I reflect on that comment, it’s the “we” in the statement that strikes me. While so many of us evaluate sermons from a consumerist perspective, asking ourselves “Was it entertaining enough?” or “Was there value in it for me?,” this individual was listening with the community of faith in mind, and for that I am grateful.

The third response was non-verbal. I’m not sure whether or not I should read too much into it, but, for the sake of blog content, here goes. Two or three individuals—and there may have been more—found a way to circumvent me entirely following the service. Now I want to be quick to express how much I appreciate that (not even kidding)! Again, it might be a little distressing if 250 people were to slip by me after a sermon without a word or even a handshake. Even so, I want to acknowledge and commend the genuineness I can detect in the “slipping by” response, especially following a sermon in which I’ve just highlighted the disbelief and isolation that characterizes the church in South Charlotte!

Finally, the fourth response that stood out to me went something like this: After thanking me for my message, which focused on the issue of poverty, the individual went on to say that “There’re a lot of people talking about poverty today and we’ve been trying to do something about it for centuries, but what I want to know is how we actually end it. That’s the question I want you to take on in your next sermon.”

In all honesty, I had hoped my sermon, in directing our attention to the God that shares in the suffering of and dwells among the poor, would hint at the only true way to end poverty, namely by entering into redeeming relationships with homeless and hungry people. Yet, I appreciate this individual’s request because it signals dissatisfaction with answers only hinted at and an attempt to push the discussion further. And the discussion needs to be pushed further, just as it needs to give way to more than discussion…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 5:02 pm

    Ah yes, what to do with those passing comments??? As a student intern, I once preached a sermon on Christianity and America. It was onlike the third of July or something… Remind me to tell you about the handshakes that day…

  2. October 26, 2009 1:07 pm

    Great Sermon Matt!

    It’s always great to see pastors that are willing to push the envelope and encourage/challenge their respective congregations into thinking about how they live their lives and how that relates to the Christ we follow. Jesus “good news” was clearly good news for the poor and oppressed and was not well received by authorities (religious or political), zealots, or the wealthy. As followers of Christ we must ask ourselves: “What are we doing, or better yet… How are we LIVING differently than our Culture?”

    Love the Challenge. Now let’s do this!

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