In the month of November, First Christian delivered a series called “Thankful4,” and I had a chance to preach on one of the few things a Christian can ALWAYS be thankful for.
The truth is, I went into this Sunday struggling to be thankful for much (for reasons discussed in the sermon). But I left Sunday with much I was “Thankful4”:
I don’t think it’s a good thing to preach from an empty place every week, but I think it’s also positive for a pastor to demonstrate transparency from time to time. We don’t have it all together either – that’s Jesus’ job. I am “Thankful4” a congregation that was open to letting me deliver this sermon as one who is processing, and not just expect a “Thus saith the preacher.”
I lied in the sermon, by the way (true confessions of a pastor). There have been some words that have been comforting to my wife and I – particularly those in the congregation who have also struggled with the same issues who have shared their stories with us since I gave the sermon. I am “Thankful4” those who are willing to be open about their struggles and bear one another’s burdens.
After the 11:00 sermon, our Executive Pastor, Tyler Brown, spontaneously called Lauren and I to the front along with others in the room that are struggling with childbearing. Somehow, my introverted wife held it together and we were prayed over by Tyler and those in the room at the time. I am “Thankful4” the prayers of others.
Since this was Tyler’s last Sunday at First Christian before moving to a new chapter in life in Arizona, he could have “coasted” and stayed quiet. He chose not to… I believe he saw a need and knew the power of prayer to heal. I am “Thankful4” Tyler’s leadership, and will miss him and his family. I pray his leadership at Cornerstone is as much a blessing as it was at First Christian (if not more!).
Finally, I am truly “Thankful4” heaven. Heaven is sometimes a hard subject to preach about for me. Seems so hard to talk about what could be construed as some “fairy-tale land in the sky” without it promoting escapism (“Just hunker down until the rapture!”) or discounting the real hurts and struggles people are dealing with in this life (“Stop crying – it’s only temporary!”). This sermon was my best attempt – until next time – to try to share my hope without falling into those traps.