• brookmcbride

The Sermon After I Put My Spouse to Sleep!

I don’t know what got into me this week. Maybe it was a sling-shot reaction to having Covid-19, or a guilt reaction to missing worship last Sunday, but this week I wrote two sermons! The first, I wrote on my usual sermon day, Wednesday. And the second, I wrote yesterday. W Why, you ask, did I feel the need to write two sermons? Well, I blame it all on my spouse, Cyndy! I don’t always do it, but sometimes I ask her to listen to my sermon and give me her thoughts. And afterwards she frequently retorts: “So you want me to be honest this time? Because the last time I was honest, you wouldn’t talk to me for 3 days!” (By the way, that’s meant to be a joke…kind of! The life of the spouse of a pastor is a complicated journey sometimes!)

Anyway, since I was a little off my game, I asked her to listen to my first shot at my sermon for Sunday and she agreed. “But first let me get a drink, I may need it!” (She is such a funny gal!) So, she went and poured herself a drink, curled up in her lazy boy recliner and settled in as if she were about to read her favorite book. And I settle into reading my sermon to her with enthusiasm! And when I finished, I looked over at Cyndy and she was fast asleep! Yikes! Now, in her defense she too is climbing out of having Covid-19, so she’s just a wee bit tired these days. But still! This can’t be good! And so, I re-read my sermon and this time I almost fell asleep. Totally uninspired! There was absolutely no “tension” in this sermon.

A note to any of you writers out there…the key to any form of literature is tension. If people know where you are going (as in the old three points and a poem) you have lost them. (I learned this from listening to a course on communicating by Rob Bell called “Something to Say.” This is dynamite stuff. If you’re interested check it out here!)

And so truly humbled, I started again. Now let me tell you, one of the reasons for my “waffling” on this sermon was the fact that I couldn’t come to grips with the scripture passage. It is totally one of my favorites: John 21:1-19: Peter’s second calling story. In this post-resurrection story, Peter and the disciples are out on the boat fishing again. And they are out fishing all night and they have nothing to show for it. And as they come into the shore, there is a man on the shore (we know it’s Jesus, but the disciples don’t recognize him yet (a common post-resurrection theme). The man (Jesus) instructs them to fish on the other side of the boat (duh!) and, of course, they do, and, in the process, they pull in a ton of fish! 153 of them to be exact! (Side note: isn’t that strange, that they counted them?) Anyway, upon seeing the huge catch, John, “the disciple Jesus loved” (another side note: isn’t that a strange way to describe one of the disciples? Jesus played favorites?!?! That doesn’t seem right!), recognizes that it’s Jesus. Upon hearing John shout out Jesus, Peter (the one Jesus didn’t love as much?) proceed to put on his outer garment (what was he naked on that boat?), jump in the water, and swim to the shore to embrace Jesus.

Crazy story, right?!? So many ways you could go with this story! But on this second take I found myself pondering second chances. Why did Peter jump in that water? I mean Jesus had just caught him fishing after all! Now, I know this seems like a normal thing to do, right? I mean Peter was an angler, after all! But you see this is the point: Peter had given up fishing for fish! He was supposed to be out there “fishing for men and women”! Calling men and women to repent and believe in the gospel!” Peter and the disciples, you see, had given up on ministry! If I would have ducked my head down and slithered out the back of the boat! I’m surprised a rooster didn’t crow in the distance! Yikes!

But, instead, Peter puts on his outer coat and swims right towards Jesus! Peter seems to intuitively know that Jesus is going to give him a second chance!

How unlike the world we live in! Look around you, folks! People in this world don’t get second chances! And sometimes I’m not sure they should! That’s my wrestling point this week in my sermon. Do people “deserve” a second chance? What do we do with Will Smith and the slap? Should Al Franken be allowed to run for congress again? What do we do with people like C.K. Louis, who was charged with sexual misconduct in 2017? And should we still

sing the songs of the hymn writer,

David Haas, who was brought up in 2020 on charges of using his music ministry to groom young women into his abusive darkness?

Yikes! Do people deserve a second chance? Come help me wrestle it out on Sunday!

Your friend and pastor, trying desperately to keep Cyndy awake, Brook

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