Monday morning for a pastor
I usually run or swim on Monday morning. I usually listen to music really loudly to try and drown out the commentators and arm chair quarterbacks that are talking about Sunday morning in my head. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the voices win.
Give this morning to the voices… Three things I want to say about my sermon yesterday:
1. As someone astutely pointed out, I really preached 3 sermons, yesterday. That’s like the cardinal sin for preachers. I wanted to talk about all three means by which we imitate God: walk in love, walk in the light, walk in wisdom. I could have spent a week on each of them and then followed it up with a fourth sermon (or sermons) on ‘be filled with the Spirit.’ But that would have kicked us to Dec 20th without having talked about marriage, parenting, or the armor of God. So, instead I plowed through it. Maybe after I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I’ll have the capacity to decide, ‘lets linger here for a bit’. Maybe even put off the end of the series until February… just thinking out loud here. So thanks for hanging on tight while i talked about lots of stuff yesterday.
2. I really wish I had nailed the illustration I gave about Laurel’s eye and walking on rocks in a stream bed. The point of those 2 stories was to agree with v. 15– ‘look carefully how you walk.’ But to also emphasize the end of v. 16– ‘because the days are evil.’ We need to walk in wisdom, with careful steps, because there are branches and slippery rocks all over our work sites, our neighborhood, the culture, our day to day life… We never want to run into a branch or slip in the water (hey let me try and scratch my cornea…), we just step wrongly. So be very careful how you step– walk in love, walk in the light, understand what the will of the Lord is. Honestly, I think I was mushy on those illustrations and not as crisp as I would like. I also missed a chance to give a big shout out to Dr. George Patterson who totally rescued Laurel– picked her up after a sleepless night, took her to his opthamology office and helped her eye speed towards recovery– it was the beginning of a great Restoration friendship!
3. I totally forgot to talk about coarse joking at the 10am. We’ll post the recording from the 8:30 on our podcast. But I can’t believe I missed the third counterfeit to walking in love. Paul gives three counterfeits: sexual immorality, covetousness, and coarse joking (filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking). Why does Paul include coarse joking as a counterfeit to real love? By definition crude joking is a joke that because of its language or its subject matter is not appropriate. (totally fine to tell jokes, this is a specifically forbidden category). When two people laugh about something that they would not want to broadcast to everyone around them, there is a secretiveness that could feel like intimacy. It is the intimacy that develops between 2 people when they know they are doing something wrong. However, it is false. It isn’t REAL vulnerability. Paul is encouraging this church to walk in love, to live in true intimacy. So the contrast he makes is between love and sex outside of the marriage covenant; between intimate conversation and coarse joking. In the heat of the moment sex outside of marriage can feel like love. In the shared laughter of a coarse joke, it can feel like friendship. But they are not.
A lot of my friends were particularly disappointed that I forgot this part of my sermon– because we all struggle with it to one degree or another. We long for authentic friendship and we want to be careful with our words.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3
So thanks for letting me do a public post-mortem on the message from yesterday.
I love our church. My commitment to you is, by the grace and mercy of God, to discharge my calling to lead and teach as best I can. You all are so encouraging to me.