It showed up on a Facebook post in response to my sermon:
During the sermon, Don spoke for one of David’s brothers saying, “SHUT UP!” It was at this point that a squirmy four-year old looked up at me with the Home Alone face, clamped his hand over his mouth, pointed in the direction of the pulpit, and wagged his finger. #bustedbyapreschooler — at Providence Baptist Church
My response was that wasn’t the worst thing I said in THAT sermon…but it got me thinking. What are the things that we shouldn’t say in church? What are the topics that we can’t mention in a sermon?
In some ways it is always a struggle. In any congregation you have a wide range of ages. So are there topics that are inappropriate for a 7 year old? Can you do a sermon on Mother’s Day without offending women who are childless? How does a Father’s Day sermon hit someone who had an abusive father? It is coming up in a few weeks–that text about David and Bathsheba. What are we supposed to do with that? Ignore it–with a wink wink, nod nod?
Ignoring the issue, hoping, praying that it will just go away, is always an option! There are lots of churches that are ignoring issues–especially those surrounding sexuality. We did so last week as a part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly. Even though the most crowded breakout dealt with the recent (Baptist) Conference on Sexuality and Covenant, there really wasn’t any mention of it during the plenary sessions. (You can find the videos here). There was a personnel committee report that said that they were making no proposals “at this time.” But everyone knows that we must–at some time!
I do understand why! We were dealing with a major restructuring–and kudos to the committee for the good work they did! We were celebrating with Daniel Vestal on the occasion of his retirement after 15 years of stellar leadership. This wasn’t the time.
But when is the time? When is the time to ask the hard questions, those that cause us to really get to the core of what we believe and allow those beliefs to be revealed in our actions?
Of course, we can just ignore them, hoping that they will go away–only the issues are going away. Just the people, who realize that we are terrified, hypocritical or completely out of touch.
Can we say any of this in the sermon?