Continued from the previous chapter, here.
Reverend Kerr continued to preach her sermon, her voice carrying through the sanctuary, measured and even.
“Think about the saying ‘Hi.’ Seems like it should be a no-brainer, right? Greetings are good, full stop. Except that the person you talk to may need not to be noticed–and not because of some nefarious purpose, but because someone is trying to hurt that person, or because that person needs to be somewhere else in a hurry but, being greeted, has to stop or be rude.
“Or, to use another example, do you raise your voice at someone who makes an interesting comment about having torn a page in a Bible.” The congregation laughed again, and Kerr winked before she went on. “It’s probably something that should have something said about it, sure, but would yelling have helped? And, really, it may not have helped that I said anything about it–or it might have, since it shows that I’m paying attention to y’all, which is one of the things a pastor is supposed to do, right? Or maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to Asa about minding my words.”
Hearing himself named, Asa flushed again and shrank down a bit in the pew–so far as its old oak would allow him to do.
“But I’m getting a bit afield of my topic, aren’t I?” Kerr pressed on. “The idea is that we are called to follow the true and avoid the false, and that we are poorly equipped to know the difference between the two. And I know that some might say that we need only trust to God’s Word for the difference, and that those who trust enough won’t have that problem. But there’re problems there, too. Who among us trusts enough? I don’t. I don’t think anyone else here does, either–or none of this” and she gestured around the church “would be needed. We’re all of us here because we don’t, so there’s something more to be found.”
Asa found himself nodding again. If I’d had preachers like this earlier…
Kerr continued. “And, again, even those who have had God’s Word directly–I’m thinking Adam and Eve, as well as Moses and, later, Thomas–have gotten things wrong. So it’s not even an issue, as some might argue, that we don’t have God’s Word as it ought to be. Scripture tells us that Adam and Eve spoke with God directly, and that Moses did. Thomas had to stick his finger in Jesus to be convinced, and he knew the man. So what are we, who are further away from direct revelation and who face things that the writers of Scripture and those who have had hands in it after–because we must not forget that others have altered the text we now have–” Asa nodded more deeply, thinking Yes! “–to do? How are we to know what is true and what is false, what to follow and what to flee, is we are not able to trust God’s Word enough to rely upon it alone?
“It is the kind of question that can lead to despair, yes, and to people talking themselves out of faith.” Again, Asa found himself nodding in agreement. “But it doesn’t have to be. Because we are made to be more than reflections only; we are made to be more than just repetitions of what has been, more than passively accepting what is given to us. We are made to make more, to make things better, to try to bring about the perfect world that is foretold to us in Scripture. And that means we will need to try new things, to be sure, and in trying, sometimes we will fail.
“God knows this, that we will fail. It is why Jesus was incarnated to begin with, and it is why we return here, week after week–or some of us after longer spans, true.” A few chuckles sang out, and Asa reddened again. I’d swear she’s talking straight to me.
Kerr continued. “What we have to do, whether we are trying to separate true from false, right from wrong, or doing anything else, is to keep working to improve, to keep working to get better. When we err, when we falter and fail–and we will–we can only resume our efforts, look at what caused the failures, and strive to avoid them. But it is not a one-and-done thing; it is a constant effort, a constant struggle, and it is easy to get tired. It is easy to get down; we all do, sometimes. And when we do, we ought to lift up our cares to the Almighty–but we also ought to lift each other up. We ought to be here for each other.
“Each of us has needed others. Many of us, most of us, have found others when we’ve needed them–sometimes the wrong ones, maybe. And those of us who’ve had the right folks should be glad of it, and we should be glad to be the right folks for others. And those of us who haven’t should remember how it felt not to have them, and we should work to be the right folks for others. And those of us who haven’t had anyone–” and here, Kerr paused.
The pause stretched out. The comments that always go on in a sermon slowly stopped until all eyes were on Reverend Kerr. Seeing it, she smiled a small smile and quietly added “For those of us who haven’t had anyone, at least not where we could see them, we should know that we’ve got them now, here, because everyone here knows he or she is called to be the right person.
“Somebody’s going to need you, if somebody doesn’t already. Jesus knew he was needed, and he answered the need. We’re called to be like Jesus. God strengthen us in that being. Amen.”
In the spirit of Matthew 5:42, I’m asking: could you kick in a bit for me so I can keep doing what you like? If you can, click here, and thanks!