I preached on Sunday.
I preach every Sunday. Most Sundays my message is encouraging and hopeful. Most Sundays my message is intended to teach my congregation how to love the neighbor and themselves and their God. Most Sundays my congregation leaves feeling good - I hope.
But this past Sunday I preached a message that had me shaken and upset. I preached about the things that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. I called out white supremacists and racists and haters of all kinds. I told a story from my life, when a neighbor and a friend burned a cross in our newest neighbor’s front yard. There was nothing nice or sweet or encouraging about my sermon. I raised my voice. I called a sin a sin. I called on my folks to do the same.
Every Sunday my sermons are posted on Facebook and YouTube and GooglePlus and on my blog and on the church website. Most weeks there are “likes” and +1s and comments and shares.
This week - nothing.
This week no one on the inter webs said anything.
But from my own congregation, the people who sat here and experienced it with me . . .
there were smiles and tears and hugs and pats on the back
there were emails and text messages later telling me how powerfully it had spoken to them.
I was mobbed after worship, by youth and young adults, thanking me for what I said.
I have gotten used to the public approval. I missed it. Maybe I even crave it.
But the important people heard it. The people I was preaching to heard it. And received it.
More importantly though - I said it. I said what I needed to say, no matter how hard it was, no matter how scary it was. Because it needed to be said Sunday, and it will need to be said again and again.
As long as there is hatred, we need to preach love.
Even for the haters.
For Jesus said, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. …” Matthew 5:43-48