The pulpit is a clarifying moment for me.
The week is full of schedules, conflicts, personalities, requests, expectations, successes, failures, budgets, attendance records, politics…you get the idea.
Preparing for standing behind the pulpit is a regular exercise of focusing everything through the lens of God’s Word and truth. But don’t get me wrong – I don’t preach on the things that have pressed themselves into my social media feed through the week. I don’t preach to fix the attitude of two volunteer leaders in the church. I don’t preach to get people to hate politicians I believe to be dangerous. I don’t take the politically expedient disasters of the week and craft a sermon.
I try really hard – and some weeks are harder than others – to bring us all back to the transcendent and necessary truths of God, our sin, His redeeming work, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preaching on a grievance de jure is a sure-fire recipe for aggravation and division among the congregation. And if a pastor does this long enough, it is a recipe for their irrelevance.
It has been popular on social media over the last couple of years for self-important voices to pontificate with, “If your pastor doesn’t preach on X this week, he’s doing it wrong!” I got blocked by one such twitterer when I pushed back. There is always an X. And even when they tell me what the X is supposed to be (racism, immigration, livable wage, etc.), I can point to three other qualifiers for X that they didn’t mention, but which are just as important. My X just wasn’t politically appropriate for them.
People don’t need more of what they got through the week, with multiple opinions and jaundiced points of view. More specifically, I don’t need that. I need the clarifying glories of the truth itself. I need to spend my time in God’s Word, doing the work of understanding what it says, how it wants to speak into the lives of the congregation (myself included), and begin crafting a sermon with those kinds of goals in mind. The stability of Scripture roots me. The truths that form the universe and shape the human experience are all there for the finding if only I have the patience, intelligence, and prayerfulness to find them.
If I can root myself in reality as it is shaped and described by the text shepherded by the God who created all things, a funny thing happens. All those other things get dealt with. All those bothersome, needling, even gigantic and serious, pressures get dealt with in the Word of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying they go away, but the pastor will find answers to those things already in Scripture.
I don’t need my pulpit cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam we wade through all week. I need it to point, without confusion, to Jesus Christ.
I don’t need my pulpit cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam we wade through all week. I need it to point, without confusion, to Jesus Christ.Tweet