I need to go back and listen to the Sermon Brainwave podcast because now, for the life of me, I can't remember what finally struck me with my sermon direction for Sunday. I had been listening to it when I was using the weight machines at the Y, and then had an idea in the shower when I got back to the locker room. Next picture me (or don't if you prefer) running wrapped in a towel to an open bench to try to type what was in my brain before I lost it. Thank God for the iPad, right?
I think the idea came as I was thinking about my reluctance to preach about sin, to call things sin. I don't think that's categorically good or bad, but I know my preaching is at least "non-traditional" in comparison to other generations of preaching in that I don't make sin and forgiveness or redemption my focal point all the time, or really even much of the time. A personal faith isn't really my focal point much. I preach to the church more than I preach to individual Christians, but really there is plenty of church sin we could talk about, too.
From there I think I wondered, where is sin in the story of Pentecost? How does the church sin against the God of Pentecost today? Turns out, there just might be a sermon in those questions.
The sin of the church is that we think we get to decide who is in and who is out. We think that we have the responsibility of deciding who gets the invitation, but the reality, the good news, of Pentecost is that the Spirit decides, the Spirit blows wherever it will, speaking whatever language it wants, calling whoever it wants in, whoever she can.
Our job isn't to decide who gets the invitation, but to get in line with the Spirit of God who comes to every person, each in their own way, each in their own language. Our job is to get rid of the one-size-fits-all mentality of doing church and let the Spirit speak through any language necessary to draw people into God's grace and mission.
We do this well sometimes - - I need to think of some. (hee hee)
But there are also areas where we have room for improvement, for confessing our close-mindedness in the past and and moving forward WITH the Spirit of God instead of against it, doubting it's validity and dismissing it as intoxicated babbling. Based on some conversations last week, it seems we might need to hear about being welcoming of kids AS KIDS in this department. While we're beginning the search for a new director of youth and family ministries we need to do some Spirit-filled work on ourselves.
Yeah, I think there's something in here for us and the key that may have come from the Sermon Brainwave was the challenge to name places where the church is a part of the Spirit's moving. I'm also feeling a nudge to point out some places where maybe we need to free ourselves to follow a bit better.
I think it'll preach.