The Old Fool has preached or listened to a sermon almost every Sunday of his 86 years. He is not bored by his own sermons when he delivers a message on a subject that is of interest to him. While it is fairly easy for The Old Fool to preach a sermon that somewhat pleases him, it is difficult for him to prepare and preach a sermon that pleases others.
So when a preacher’s sermon is critiqued The Old Fool feels a great deal of empathy for the preacher. The sermon is the preacher’s life. The preacher pours prayer into the sermon, does research, examines himself, and takes into consideration the spiritual health, needs and desires of those who choose to listen.
Yet The Old Fool is aware that a sermon that pleases everyone is yet to be preached. The whole gospel cannot be put into one sermon. Preachers are advised to put on a best suit if preaching in a city church. If preaching in a country church, the preacher is told to take his best sermon. And the whole matter becomes more complicated, in The Old Fool’s opinion, if the church is a college church where many listeners are qualifed by advanced degrees to receive and examine the sermon.
It takes courage to be the preacher in any church. But the expanding needs of the world requires more love, more courage from religious leaders than before. The Old Fool believes that today’s churchman ought to step beyond the simple pastoral role of feeding sheep by still waters. The hazardous times rushing in on us demands pastors who are willling to be prophets able to lead the world’s population through the valley of the shadow of death.
Jesus noted that it is not safe to be a prophet. Prophets have often not been popular among their own people who stoned them. The Old Fool is not a prophet, but he dares to predict that the results of the neglect of the earth will drive its inhabitants to want loving, honest, and fearless religious leaders.
The sermon this past Sunday was skillfully crafted. The theme came from the ministry of John the Baptist. The crowds who heard him preach asked, “What shall we do?” The Old Fool heard a conflicting message through out the service. As usual in a Mennonite service there was an emphasis on doing something to better the world. The other message, espesically in song, was that we could really not do enough. For the planet’s salvation must wait til the second coming of the Messiah.
The Old Fool’s mind is that if Jesus were to speak to us now he would say he did his part when he was on earth. Now is the time for humankind to do its part and make use of all the scientific knowledge and skill available to rescue the world from the peril it is in, and demonstrate mutual good will to all, and then. if done in time, shalom will come. Click here to read evidence of the earth’s peril.