Pie in the Sky or Present help

The Peacemaking RemnantAs the preacher, congregation, and the Spirit interact to create the preaching event the core beliefs of the Christian community are reaffirmed. The preacher presents a word that at times calls for radical confrontation with the powers of this world that are against God’s way. The preacher also presents a word that strengthens the resolve of an oppressed people reminding them that God is on their side and they can make it through. Thus the preacher is not speaking of “pie in the sky when you die� but empowerment in this world to take whatever the world gives and yet still work for God’s ideal on this earth keeping in mind that there is a judgement to which all must stand.

This perspective does not deny the future that God has promised. This perspective recognizes that the future promise is important to living today and it actually can guide us in present living. God’s future is a great compass that provides us with guidance. To quote Kendra Heloviak:

* Because God’s future will be an earth full of justice, worshippers seek justice now.
* Because God’s future will bring peace on earth worshippers act for peace now.
* Because God’s future will be an earth with plenty for all, worshippers act to end hunger now.
* Because God’s future will be existence without tears, worshippers act to comfort and to heal now.
* Because God’s future will be life without death, worshippers act to fight disease and death now.Peacemaking Remnant, pg 69

The preacher facilitates this understanding of making the future present in this world among the congregants.

Looking at the Sanctuary like a Black Preacher

The next time someone speaks about the Sanctuary or the Sanctuary message, before you think about mathmatical calculations, choreography, or architecture, just think about it being the place from which God sends help to God’s people.

This full post is located on my blog. The Sanctuary is not primarily about math or celestial architecture. It is the base of God’s operations on behalf of humanity.

A long while back I applied Henry Mitchell’s Soul Theology to fundamental Adventist Doctrines and created a document. Here is a piece of that document, the only changes I make is to make it Gender Inclusive.

This belief has some application to providence, justice, omniscience, grace of God, and perseverance of persons. Providence – Here the Sanctuary must be seen as the center of God’s work on behalf of humanity. In the Old Testament, the sanctuary was where God did God’s work on behalf of man. God’s justice and grace come from there. The Sanctuary is God’s place from where he takes care of business.

Justice – Good can only win in the end when justice is served. Justice is an important concept in African American thought as well as other oppressed peoples.

Grace of God – God’s grace can be seen in that the judge is your defender. Much can be made of God’s grace in allowing us to go to God. God’s grace can be seen, as the sanctuary is the center of God’s forgiveness. We know of the lamb and we know of forgiveness. Christ is a symbol of the High Priest on our side and the lamb on our side.

Finally Perseverance – One could emphasize Christ as your brother who came as we are so he knows what we are going through (Omniscience). Not just from his Godship, but also his experience. You can make it! In fact how can you not make it with the Father, Son, and his Holy Spirit working on your behalf from the Sanctuary above and on the earth beneath.

The Sanctuary message can be presented using doctrines that are already deeply held by most Christians and have helped Black folk make it through their problems.

Prophetic Voice or an Echo?

Preachers cannot fall into the trap of preaching only what people want to hear. We all have heard sermons and experienced worship that was not relevant to our situation. To counteract this we sometimes seek to ask the question what to people want. What questions do our people want addressed in a sermon. While such questions are valuable, they can never blunt the prophetic witness.

While we ask what the people want to hear or what the people want to have addressed, which are important and valuable questions, we also must ask what do the people NEED to hear? It is easy to get caught up into preaching things that will tickle the ears of congregants.

We should always remember that we don’t always desire to hear what we need to hear most. The gospel always confronts the world we live in in creative ways that need to be explored by the preacher. There are some aspects of the gospel that are always fun to preach. There are aspects of the gospel that people want to hear all the time, but then there are aspects of the gospel that confront us and the world in uncomfortable ways. Let us preach the gospel and let it confront the world. Let us not just preach what sounds good and feels good to preach.