In front of the cross

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Although I’m not preaching today, I’m praying for my friends who will be preaching today. Yes, it’s Father’s day, it’s also a day, that many are still hurting from what happened in Orlando last weekend. My prayer is that you who will be preaching today will take the opportunity, to be honest, and real. I’m praying that you’ll set aside your notes. Don’t quote everything you know. Who cares that you memorized your sermon notes. Be authentic. Be real. Be honest. Don’t try to have all of the answers and don’t try to fix it with a three-point sermon.

Today is the day you really need to listen. You shouldn’t be doing all of the talking today. You should be inviting others to talk. They need to be invited to express themselves, to be angry, and most of all, to cry. What would it look if our church services allowed for people to really cry? Today is the day that we really want and mean for people to come as they are.  

You might pray out loud today and you might simply have a space for silence. For people to be still. To be quiet. Our church services are too noisy sometimes. A little silence might be a little healing today.

Forget about the cool slides, the background music, and the freshly brewed coffee and Krispy Kreme  donuts in the back of the narthex today. No one cares. I beg you today, set aside your sermon notes and trust your heart. Keep your eyes wide open. Visit people on the sides and in the back of your churches. Talk to people you wouldn’t usually talk to. Look for those who are on the margins. The uncool. The poor. Those who don’t fit in. Those who might not look like you or anyone else. The ones who might not sound like you. The ones who might smell. They might be covered in tattoos. Look for the ones who make you feel uncomfortable. And yes, the pretty ones will be hurting too. Don’t forget them. They need you too.  Did I say open your eyes? You won’t see these people unless you’re eyes are open. Look up for a change. Most of all? Listen. We who have been called to preach, have forgotten how to listen. We stink at listening. Today, of all days, please listen to those who you’ll be talking to.

Today, there are people who are just simply sad. Their hearts are broken. Their hearts are also being melted. They’re pondering what it would mean to consider something new and different. A different approach. A different way. A new way. It’s your job today to invite them to come to the table to experience the one who truly understands what it means to suffer. You’re the table setters. Our table is huge and it’s your job to invite them to the table. It’s not your table. It’s the Lord’s table. It’s not your agenda, but God’s. I heard someone recently say that sometimes “trouble makers are change makers.”

Your sermon today might get you in trouble. That’s my prayer. I hope you get in trouble because your sermon today needs to be different. It needs to be about Jesus and his example of loving people on the margins. No matter who they are. Your church might actually appreciate your boldness for a change and the challenge to step outside of the walls of the church and to actually interact with the world. It’s not about being comfortable today. It’s about being uncomfortable because it’s where the real change begins. It’s where God meets us and it’s where our purpose becomes crystal clear.

The one who indeed was a trouble maker brought people to the table. He changed the world. He was the great change-maker. He invites real, authentic, broken people, who are suffering and who are looking for something a little different today, to come and receive from him. Today might be the first day, the cross becomes real for the first time in a long time.

Today, hungry people might be coming to church. It’s not your job to feed them. It’s not your job to save them. It’s simply your job to invite them to hear and listen to the one who says, “Come to me all who are tired, and I will give you rest.”

I’ll never forget the day I took this picture. This is my friend Dino. Yes, he’s sleeping in the front of the church. Yes, he’s homeless. Dino is a cool dude. A lot of us love this guy. I’ve had the opportunity to serve Dino communion. I’ll never forget that day either. The reality is that there are a whole lot of Dino’s all over the city and yes, not all of them are homeless.

I love where Dino is sleeping. Do you see where he’s sleeping?

Our job today is to show others the cross. We all need to be in front of the cross today. It’s what we need to be telling people about today. We need to be showing them where the cross is today. Nothing else. Just the cross.

Maybe today is the day, we all just sit for an hour or two in front of the cross. No words. No music. No noise.

Simply, right in front of the cross.

 

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