We often preach a message people already agree with, a message that reinforces what people already believe. When we preach to the choir, we probably don’t feel vulnerable about the anticipated reaction: we expect more kudos than pushback. But what happens when we preach against the choir?
Here’s the truth many clergy have shared with me: they are afraid to preach about issues of public concern. They know their sermons should in some way address things like racism, homophobia, climate change, sexism, economic issues, or hatred of foreigners, for example. But fear holds them back, keeps them quiet, and muzzles their prophetic voice. How can you preach when you are afraid?
If your experience is like mine, you’ve never preached in a political and cultural climate as volatile and unpredictable as the one we face in the U.S. right now. How do we preach the unifying love of Christ when many are divided? How do we preach peace in the face of vitriol? How do we preach dignity when displays of disrespect are paraded as badges of honor?
It is simply a fact of the preaching life that, at times, we will be required to set aside our prepared sermons and speak to the events which surround us, testifying to how we see God in and through them.
How do we decide when to continue with our sermon as prepped versus adjusting our sermon at the last minute?