Wednesday, November 16, 2016
NOVEMBER 16 "YOU'RE JUST ENTERTAINMENT TO THEM"
This is the scripture preachers don't like to read. Every time I read it it leaves me a little unsettled. To think of myself as nothing more than mere entertainment for parishioners is not comforting, in the least. But the reality is, for many Americans, Sunday church attendance is a form of a religious, habitual ritual for many. You get up, put on your best dress, show up to church, it's very social, mingle a little, listen to the sermon (with half our minds on something else) then mingle a little more, go out to lunch and then head home and begin to wind down for the evening. The idea that your sermon is going the be the very spiritual breath in their lungs and change their course, catapult them forward is perhaps naive or overly optimistic. However, this is how the true preacher feels about his sermon. He studies, prays and tries to get the mind of Christ for that service believing that his sermon can make a difference in someone's life. God is really bursting that bubble in this text. God straight out tells Ezekiel, "they have no plans on doing a thing you are saying". Huh? Can be the response to the preacher who first hears this from God. While God has never told me that, I have read it in this passage many times, I have also read it in the Epistle of James "to be doers of the Word and not hearers only" and I have seen it with my own two eyes and experienced it with my church. So what do you do? Some get cynical and stop putting forth the effort in their sermon preparation, others just grab sermons off the internet and last, some get discouraged and just quit the ministry all together. I think as congregation members we must read this passage, check ourselves and ask the probing question, " is this me in this passage, would God include me in this bunch of people, has church become no more than just a religious, habitual ritual for me? Am I still going to hear from God or is it more about socializing, dressing up, seeing my friends, getting out of the house and getting some fellowship?" For the preacher, we must guard our hearts from becoming cynical, as it is very easy to do so. And we must continue to believe in our purpose and in the power of a sermon to help and perhaps, change someone's life.