Yesterday, February 10th, I attended three different church services, all three associated with different denominations and all three catering to three different needs of different congregations. It was interesting to hear the preaching of all three and the message that they were trying to get across.
The first church had a mostly middle-class to upper middle class crowd and the preaching reflected as such. The message was from John 3 concerning Nicodemus and this idea of what does it really mean to be “born-again” and this idea of “being religious” as was Nicodemus of the Pharisees, a religious man. Comparing the Negro spiritual “Have you got good religion?” and the call and response of “Certainly, Lord” and how religion stands up in the face of Jesus and just who should the church side with: Nicodemus who needed to be born again or Jesus, telling Nicodemus he needs to be born again was the main thrust of his sermon. The pastor quipped about the division of Christian religiosity because presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been quoted as saying that he is catering to “born-again Christians” and the pastor asked as if there was a different type of Christian in the first place.
The second church was a church that catered to a cross section of middle-classness in the black community. The church had a decidely Africentric push, that was quite comforting to see here in the deep South. Interestingly enough (and I hope I don’t get in trouble for writing this, so I’m waiving all rights to the following statements because I’m simply telling this in an effort to be fair in my reporting) the sermon was quite the black power speech. Not saying that I felt that I was at a 1960’s rally, but that the sermon oozed with politics. Now I’m not sure if this was an atypical sermon for this pastor, but clearly it was received quite well by the church members. For anyone who knows what church I come from, they know that I’m not a stranger to politics in the pulpit, quite frankly, I wish we had more of it. However, it was the method of how it was delievered.
The pastor seemed to get up there and actually just talk, not necessarily a ramble, but talk as though he were shaping the consciousness of the people to whom he was pastoring. I wish more pastors would be cognizant of this task; it’s not an issue of brainwashing the mindless, but rather recognizing that God has given preachers and pastors this delicate task and to not feed the church members garbage. However, there was the pre-sermonic talk, it seemed and then the pastor backed into the text which was Psalm 32, and he walked through verse by verse giving some insight to what the writer was talking about.
The third church was for the evening service and actually I was quite expectant for a good sermon because the introduction was quite engaging. The scripture text was Genesis 3 particularly (I don’t feel like moving to get my Bible to denote the exact verses) the last three verses about how Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden of Eden. The sermon was entitled “Covered for Life” and somehow, she made a tenous connection between the fig coverings and insurance. She preached and did some hollering where I was kind of loss as to how the connection was drawn between the two, because she backed into the earlier part of Genesis 3 where Eve was talking to the serpent. She hooped on the metaphor of insurance, and how Jesus had taken out a policy on us and we were the beneficiaries of that policy, and it was paid for with the blood.
Two of these churches had specific and clear references to the politics and the presidential race: one about Huckabee and the other about Obama being “a safe candidate” not pushing some issues as did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (and that is QUITE true). Clearly, I’m just rambling and since it’s my blog I can do that. It’s just interesting to see how all three preached differently and all three had different agendas and three different church atmospheres.
One was quite staid, the second very colorful and upbeat and lively and the third would fall in the pentecostal/charismatic category and quite frankly there are elements of all three that I like. Above all, I preferred the preaching of the first, the Africentrism of the second and the charisma of the third church (and personally, I like the preaching style of the third as well, I’m a sucker for a good hoop).
So where is that church? at least here in Atlanta….oh well
keep it uppity, JLL