Preach It!

It’s Easter Sunday. In many places us lay folk will have listened to another sermon on the resurrection of Christ. It’s a marker on our calendar foretelling the annual blossoming of spring. There is an itch I know I shouldn’t scratch that has arisen today along with the hemlines of some of the daughters in church. It is the one that urges me to say it louder, to find a cadence and speak with it. To speak with surety that my words are the right words for this moment. To be confident that folk can just do as I say and things will be better. There is a reason that ordained ministers have to graduate from seminary as part of the road to becoming a pastor. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Props to those like my preacher, Keith Hill, who put in the work, graduated seminary, completed their training, and became pastors. Keith did the work so he has authority when he preaches. Still, I’m guessing Keith also knows when just preaching at someone isn’t helping. A lot of us lay folk are trapped by that. We figure if we preach it you’ll be more likely to agree with us. It would be nice if I could get my Jesse Jackson impression on and folk would come correct.

I inhabit a crowd of folk who are ornery. We don’t behave. We especially don’t behave if you forget your manners and talk at us. Talking at us is more likely to get you a punch in the face. We like being asked to do things, not told to do them or else. You can lead us, my malcontented friends and I, but it takes some skill and subtlety. Just yelling at us in rhythm just annoys us.

More than a few of us have watched addicts early in recovery sermonize so that they can hide. Big blustery words about what folk are ‘sposed to do so that the spotlight comes off the addict who is preaching in the name of sharing in a meeting. We know the shtick and we are not fooled.

I’m sort of over preaching. I don’t know the answers to life’s great questions. The more I read, the more I study, the more I realize I am a stupid-head who has a lot more to learn. I’m also over deeply introspective conversations where the topic is my major malfunctions. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in an office of a therapist letting my heart bleed and letting the therapist micro-analyze the quantity and chemical composition of my navel lint. It’s a lot better if we just stipulate that I am a hot mess and move on.

I’m more interested in how I can serve, how I can participate in helping other hot messes heal and thrive. This is why I’ve decided to give less time to a house church I became acquainted with. They are in a rather introspective mood I don’t share. I’ll still support them as I am able. But I’m over sitting around a table asking about my vision and mission, about my sin and why I am a sinner, and my motivations for being a disciple of the Way. Introspection without service is just pious masturbation.

I guess this is an iteration of, “I don’t fix.” I don’t preach. I don’t have answers that equate to, “‘spose to”. I have my family for that. If you want a list of ‘spose to’s, talk to my Dad. He’s good at that. What I have is friendship. I can walk with you. I can commiserate with you. We can walk toward emulating Christ together. We’ll be introspective but it’ll have a different quality from the sermonizing my family is so fond of. We’ll fail, be hot messes, sin a little and realize we have to get back on track. Then we’ll walk a little further toward heaven.

My son is struggling with English. He hates it. He hates it so much that his rebellion against completing assignments in it could tank his college career. When he was younger I had the leverage of a father, of a parent, to use against him. I could create consequences for him beyond a failing grade. He’s 19. He’s grown, at least in the eyes of society. My ability to influence his life is greatly diminished. So, though I am a writer, my ability to get him to finish English 101 is almost nil. I could preach. I’m good at sermonizing. I have lots of reasons why he is supposed to love English 101. But . . . I get grumpy when folk preach at me so doing the same to him seems wrong. Instead, I try to do what I speak of above, commiserate, walk together, let him know that he is loved even as a son of a hot-mess. Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! The truth of that is embodied in how we live. Let’s live it well. Now quit staring at her, uhm . . . legs. You are being way obvious. Her Dad is noticing. Seriously.