I’ve never depended much on using alliteration in my preaching. Okay, full disclosure: I’ve never used alliteration. It always seemed to me to be a rather easy crutch to fall back on when inspiration was low or non-existent. And, it just seems to come across as a bit phony or contrived. I know a lot of preachers use it. This is not a criticism of them; it’s just my personal opinion. However, in preparation for this Table Talk piece I asked myself, what does my church need to hear from me this week? And all of a sudden, the following just jumped at me…
Especially, during these troubled times, we need to pray for one another and for the circumstances that life has presented us. You have often and sufficiently revealed to me how important prayer is to you. Still, every once in a while we need to be reminded – I need to be reminded – to pray.
You may recall that in my sermon last Sunday I suggested that when you wash your hands, instead of singing Happy Birthday twice you might offer a prayer. I’ve been practicing that myself and was encouraged when a Catholic friend of mine here in Little Rock watched our service on Facebook Live. She wrote me to say how much that meant to her, and that she was going to start doing just that. There’s no better feeling for a preacher when someone takes to heart something you have said or done.
Alliteration, remember? We need to sharpen our purpose as a congregation of faith. I’m so grateful to Laura Stephens-Reed for her faithfulness to our church. We were scheduled to have completed our transition process just as we had to close our doors for a season. Laura has stayed in the ring with us, encouraging us and showing us how important a shared focus and purpose is. Let’s continue to think about what we want First Baptist to be, especially as we anticipate those days when we are able to come back together. It takes a shared purpose to do that.
No, pandemic isn’t the next P word I’m asking you to consider. But, I sense that we are now experiencing, for lack of a better term, “pandemic fatigue.” We’re tired, just plain tired, of this mess and we want it to end. We want our children to be able to go back to school, we want to be together for worship and actively participate in ministry, we want to go back into society without having to wear a mask, we want… But right now, we can’t. So the next P word is patience. Please, let’s be patient with one another, with our circumstances, and with our faith journey, trusting that one day things will be better…
… which brings us to our final P. Let’s be positive. The scriptures are rife with the belief that a better day is coming. The hope of that better day brings us back to our first P word: prayer. As you read this, please stop for just a moment and pray for a positive spirit, for yourself and for those with whom you share your life and faith. I simply can’t think of a better thing to do right now in this very moment. And I do indeed hope you agree.