Trail Notes

Trail Notes: 03/19/2017

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On preaching and hearing the Word of God.

“The pulpit is no place for anything political!”

“Jesus’ message was all about transformation of society, and that includes political issues!” 

We don’t all agree on the place of political issues in church. Recently I read some helpful words from our neighbor, Bp. Eugene Sutton of the Diocese of Maryland (based in Baltimore). They seem balanced and useful to preachers and listeners alike. 

We all seek to follow our baptismal vows, which include “respecting the dignity of every human being,” and “striving for justice and peace among all people.” I sometimes feel compelled to preach justice and compassion for persons who are in want and distress.  Occasionally I preach against public policies that do not respect human dignity equally. See what you think of Bp. Sutton’s advice, and I’d love to discuss it further at St. Dunstan’s.  JBM

 
A guideline for preachers

  • Always preach the gospel. Respect the pulpit; don’t view it as your personal political platform.
  • Speak as one informed witness to Christ’s gospel, acknowledging there are other witnesses.
  • Remind your listeners that this is the beginning of a conversation you want to have with them, not the end of a needed conversation.
  • Show some courage. It’s easier in the long run for your pastoral ministry than cowardice.
  • Be willing to listen, be willing to change your mind, be willing to repent.

A word to listeners

  • Cut your preachers some slack. They really are trying to say and do the right thing.
  • Acknowledge in yourself that Jesus was both a spiritual and a political teacher.
  • Read the cited Scriptures, and have the conversation with God and with others that the preacher is inviting you to have.
  • Be willing to listen, be willing to change your mind, be willing to repent.


 

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