Posted tagged ‘A word from the Lord’

It’s Friday, And Sunday Is Coming…Again Already!

June 7, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                          June 7, 2013

 

It’s Friday, And Sunday Is Coming…Again Already!”

 

Some people think I’m suspect because I don’t cuss…but I do say “Crap!”

Some people think I’m half a bubble off center because I have a personal “blankie” that I sleep with, and its name is not Carol. Its name is…Blankie! Carol has her personal electric blanket. Its name is not Bill!

And some people think my salvation is suspect because, for one, I preach from a manuscript, and, two, there are some Sundays that are a real struggle to give a word from the Lord. Ask any pastor who is trustworthy and they will tell you that. There are times where the message is about as easy as a root canal. The preparing of it is like being in rush hour traffic where there is no rhythm…stop and go…accelerate and brake.

Years ago Tony Campolo gave a message that he borrowed from an African-American Baptist pastor, entitled “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming!”

Classic! Awesome!

For most pastors there are times, however, when the scream is “It’s Friday, and Sunday is coming again already!”

So soon? Last Sunday might have lifted the roof, but then it’s on to the next Sunday. Pastors are like catchers in baseball. The starting pitchers only appear every fifth game. The third baseman fields four or five grounders or line drives the whole game. But the catcher is in every play. He makes a great stop on a wild pitch, but then it’s on to the next pitch. Catchers don’t take pitches off.

Pastors don’t take Sundays off!

Yes, I know we really do. It’s called vacation, and yet how many times have I heard the joke, “Vacation? You only work one hour one day a week.”

Although said in a teasing way, a lot of people wonder what pastors do between Sunday noon and the next Sunday at 10 A.M. That sense of Baptist guilt stays with me, and so I find myself preaching eight to twelve straight Sundays before I take a Sunday off.

In the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23) there is a condemning statement made by the Lord towards the false prophets of Jeremiah’s time. A number of them were making claims, or speaking oracles and claiming that they were from God…and God said “No way! That’s not of me!” In Jeremiah 23:34 the Lord says, “I will punish that man and his household!”

Can you envision my Adam’s apple (“laryngeal prominence” for the smarter folk) rising and falling

six inches as I gulp deeply?

So, it’s Friday and Sunday is coming again and the folk who show up at 10:00 for worship are expecting a word from the Lord…and I’m saying to the Lord “Can I get a word? It can be short. It can even be Greek! It can even be in the old King James! Lord, just give me something!”

A fresh word, a new word.

Perhaps you think that this is just some affliction that pastors deal with.

No, it is something any follower of Jesus deals with. Some people want a word, but they’re too busy to hear it. A cell phone in one ear and Coldplay rocking it through the ear bud in their other ear. Or some people want a word in a take-out container, quick and easy. Those are two extreme situations connected to our hyper lifestyles.

But many of us who seek to touch the fringe of Jesus’ robe find ourselves from time to time grasping and missing. We deal with moments of indecision as to what direction God went in.

We want a fresh word, but we’re having a hard time forgiving the jerk who cut us off driving to church. We want a word from the Lord, and yet we’re not ready for the next step that word will take us to.

It’s Friday, and for many of us we long for Sunday, a new beginning…a fresh start. And for others, “Sunday” is an approaching time of uncertainty that we hope…we hope…is fresh wind and new wine!

The Dread and The Draw

October 26, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         October 26, 2012

 

To be a pastor is to blessed and cursed at the same time. Before you start a petition to have me thrown off a cliff…kind of like the crowd’s reaction to Jesus first sermon (Luke 4:14-30)…let me expound! I’m good at taking a few words from Scripture and talking about them for 30 minutes!

The blessing is to walk alongside people in their celebrations and struggles. It’s to know that you can be used by God to share a word of encouragement with them; or just sit quietly with them as they grieve and be present; or be the storyteller to a group of children; or lead people in worship and discovery. Extraordinary blessings!

It’s a curse in that your time is not your own. There is always the anxiety of a date night with my wife being detoured towards the hospital. Saturday nights are not spent relaxing in front of the TV, or reading a mystery novel. Sometimes people get upset with you because you were suppose to automatically know about their mother’s surgery even though nothing had been said.

Most weeks, however, the blessings tip the scales heavily away from the curses.

It points to another tension that is evident in most pastors on Sunday afternoon or evening. It’s the dread of another week beginning, but also the draw of a new beginning. Monday brings hope, but also tired realism. The sharing of “a word from the Lord” is a blessing, an opportunity; and yet, Monday is the face smack moment of knowing that there needs to be a new word for the next Sunday. A pastor feels blessed that people want “a word” from him. A pastor feels cursed in that people expect “a word” from him.

I know that I need to vacate for a few days when the dread on Monday creates a tsunami of despair on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Every pastor, no matter the gender, race, denomination, or size of congregation he/she serves, goes through periods where there is a vacancy sign in receiving words from the Lord. Our rest is interrupted by the scene of standing before the congregation on a Sunday and saying “There is no word from the Lord this week!”

Someone approaches a pastor after worship and says, “Great sermon, pastor!” Although the affirmation is appreciated, there is also the renegade thought running through the pastor’s mind about whether next week’s message can be as meaningful. Pastors have nightmares about sermons that are complete disconnects with the hearers.

As I said, however, Sunday night brings that tension point of dread and draw. The draw is that Monday is a new beginning. The Christian walk is about new beginnings, new life, new things, new hope. Monday is a reaffirmation that God is about something new. It’s about seeing his truth, and presence in another new way.

Monday is like the beginning of a new book. The danger is that books can become never-ending and overwhelming, like a seminary student who looks at the stack beside his study desk and realizes that there are twelve other new books that will need to be started in addition to the one he has just opened.

That’s the dread! An ongoing avalanche of newness that results in a desire for some oldness. Sometimes our soul sings “Tell me the old, old story!”

Pastors can identity whether they are in a period of dread or a period of draw. We’re pretty sharp in many ways, even as we’re clueless in others.

All of us have heard the wisecracks about pastors working only one day a week. The truth of the matter is that, even with a day off, we pastor seven days a week. It’s a constant calling that we can not separate ourselves from, almost like being a father or a son is an “always.”