I asked for it. Literally. Each summer I invite our congregation to submit questions they’d like to examine. Over the next Sunday or two, I offer my responses in place of the sermon that morning. Here are a few of this year’s queries:
- “How about an explanation of The Trinity?”
- “What can we do to reduce the tension between the political extremes in our
- “How about raising teenagers in a social media world? How can kids and
parents verbally communicate?”
- “How can God forgive me all the time? How can I feel worthy of His love? How
can I feel it’s okay to pray for myself?
- “How does God view war? The Bible says to turn the other cheek, but is that still valid on a large scale? How can it be possible to show love in a time of such violence and hate?”
I have a question of my own—“What was I thinking?!!?” I promised answers, but I don’t have answers. When I started preaching, I used to think I had something to say that people needed to hear. Now I realize I don’t have much to say, but people keep coming to hear it anyway.
By now, haven’t you heard everything I have to say? I think you don’t want my answers, you want my struggles. I think you keep coming to hear the struggles, to hear what faith sounds in the absence of answers, without cast-iron certainty, when I’m preaching not because I’m ready but because Sunday has arrived. You don’t want my visions, you want my glimpses.
What truth I offer about scripture or about life is like a brief glimpse of a deer in the woods just off the trail. “Look! Did you see that?” I cry. Sometimes by the time I point to the location, the deer has bounded into the thicket. But occasionally someone exclaims, “Yes! I saw only a brief glimpse, but it was beautiful!” You don’t need my 3-D image of a deer, only an opportunity to experience your own glimpse. And the assurance that a glimpse is enough.
That doesn’t make getting ready for Sunday any less of a struggle. Tony Campolo preached a now classic sermon on resurrection hope titled, “It’s Friday…But Sunday’s Coming!” Well, today is Friday, but the knowledge that Sunday is coming looms as a huge threat, not a promise. Forty-eight hours ‘til pulpit time!