I have been trying to write a sermon on Making Peace to give in just a few days' time, at an old folks' home.
It was a great privilege to be asked. But the time is so short - to write a sermon in the September sun, on my New Hampshire deck, in only a couple of hours' time. And a short sermon, at that.
It's not like the old days when I was a parish minister. Each sermon then, for those 32 years, was an agonizing process, that took a week. A task I loved. But, it took research, and long thought, and waiting for the Spirit's move.
This time, with this assignment, was intense. It had to be personal. It had to come from the heart. And, from my experience.
It was for people I love. And it had to be true. It was on loving your enemy. Jesus' radical call to set aside the niceties of life. The traditional. The expected. And be a conversation with people like me, about what we all know, and then hold it up to the Light, and pray Jesus will take it, and speak through it, for truth, and the hope of life, to people who are in the last years of their life. Like me.
But it came. As a call to go against the voices of our time, that calls us to hate, to be against those people who aren't like "us." Who are different. Even of whom we disapprove. And, to love them anyway. In all their differences, all their unlikeness to us, all that we find it so easy to avoid, to dismiss, to shun.
Somehow, under the constraints of old age, and not enough time, you call to Jesus to take these thoughts, these words. Make them real, authentic. And fling them out there. Offer what you have. Put your heart in it. Ask Jesus to take it, and make it His. And touch the hearts that will hear. And speak to their need, and lift their hopes of living in a new way - love's way. The way that makes peace possible through the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for those who struggle to preach. And ask God to take the deep things of your heart, and dare to speak them yourself, in the ways that are peculiarly and wonderfully your own.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES