The lightning spreader
There is no high like the most high.
We had wonderful services this past Easter. I actually preached my morning sermon dressed in an Easter bunny costume. The title of the sermon was “Three things that Christ can do for you that the Easter Bunny cannot.”
I needed to buy some time during the service in order to change into the costume, so I asked my 15-year-old son Brandon to read the passage for the sermon. I did some highlighting in my Bible as far as where to pause and when to have the congregation sit and stand. He did an excellent job, and also gained a better appreciation for what it is that dad does “up there on stage.” He and I have had several discussions concerning what it is like to be empowered by the Spirit, and preach a sermon.
Brandon used an interesting illustration to describe his perception of that process in light of his experience on Sunday morning. “It is kind of like a huge bolt of lightning comes from God through your head and is spread out your fingers to the congregation. You have to know the word of God, but you also have to know the individuals in your congregation. Your job is to receive the word and power of God in concentrated form and diffuse it to the individuals in the congregation…and all of this ‘in the moment’ as each sermon unfolds.” (This of course is paraphrased slightly to get past grammar and spell check on my laptop.)
I have told people that being a pastor is simultaneously the most terrifying and exciting job I have ever had. It is the joy of my life to be able to help people understand the word of God and in the process learn new things from it myself daily. God gives me insight on each individual in the congregation and helps me to construct sermons that will reach the heart of the individual while at the same time speaking to everyone. In a way, each sermon is kind of like conducting a symphony. The result is the beautiful music it hopefully creates in the heart and mind of the individual. I wonder at times if anyone feels it as I do.
On the other hand, I constantly wonder if the different approach I take to preaching the word of God does not aggravate some of the people in my congregation. I am a different person, and I celebrate the individuality we have in Christ. At the same time, I have to be careful as a “pastor” not to be careless with that individuality.
I get worried on Sunday mornings when numbers are down if I am not praying or working hard enough. I am constantly mindful of the weight that comes with the spiritual responsibility of this job. It is a difficult balance between solid biblical interpretation and consistently finding new and different ways to communicate those truths.
It is hard being a lightning spreader, but as I said before…there is no high like the most high.
Dennis McFarland is the pastor of the Plumwood Church of Christ in Christian Union, 175 Arthur Bradley Road. He can be reached at (740) 857-1714 or by e-mail at: email@example.com