I have been preaching for nearly 30 years. Among the most difficult sermons I have ever preached were my father’s eulogy on March 24, 2005, my mother’s eulogy on August 7, 2013, the Sundays following 9/11 when our nation was brutally attacked, and June 21, 2015 after 9 people were massacred in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
To be honest, I was relieved that Isaiah was assigned to preach this past Sunday; click here to listen to his excellent sermon. It was a week fraught with the kind of deeply rooted hatred and violence that weighs on the soul after a while, at least it does mine. There were repeated bomb threats of leaders and institutions that I respect, in which thankfully no one was injured. There was a failed attempt by a shooter to enter an African American First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, Kentucky that subsequently led to the murder of 2 others at a Kroger’s grocery store. And then on Saturday the senseless and horrific killing of 11 of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh that tore me asunder.
Ultimately, the sermon and preacher’s task is to bring good news; most especially good news in the midst of bad news. These moments hit hard and shake us to our core reminding us of our vulnerabilities; that hate is real and life is far too precious to be taken away so needlessly.
Sunday afternoon as my sister and I were lamenting the details of the week, she asked, “How do you give people hope in times like these?” My response was simple: I try to remind them that they are loved, that their lives and the lives of their beloved matter, and that they should work toward being the change they wish to see.
In the midst of it all, I try to listen for the voice of the One calling to me: “Come to me, Cathy. Come to me and all of you who are weary and weighed down by heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 (paraphrased).
May you also find rest in that voice calling to you; and then, arise to do all you can to make this world a better place.
Grace and peace,