A View from the Pew

by Grady King

Since January of this year, I have been blessed and challenged to be in twenty-seven churches with Hope Network. From rural, to urban and suburban ranging in size from 50-1,000.

Recently, on a Sunday, I got to sit and not stand.  It’s my way of saying I was not the preacher or participant in public worship. It is a rare experience in the last forty two years. I was simply a member of the body of Christ, sitting with my wife in worship and “assembling with the saints.”

It was good to be with God’s people at the Mansfield Church of Christ. Lots of hugs, smiles and welcome from people who allowed me to be in their life as a minister—to enter sacred places. It was refreshing and helpful. The worship was well planned. Participants prepared. And I received communion without thinking about my work (the sermon). The message on “Sabbath” (rest) was timely.

As a preacher, it is good to sit in the pew from time to time.  So many reminders.

From where I sat I saw…
Families. Babies. Children. Youth. Grandparents. Widows.
Single in faith—married, with no spouse present.
Guests. New members I did not know.
Four generations on the same pew.

Smiles, hugs, conversations.

Sometimes us preachers need to sit in the pew and be reminded that there is more to Sunday than “the sermon.”
Tears of grief. Gentle embraces. Hands held.
Children nurtured. Guided. Helped.
Hands raised, eyes closed—some thoughtful, some asleep.
Phones checked. I-Pads on. Note takers.
The attentive and the restless.
The casual and the formal.

From where I sat I heard…
Voices of praise.
Laughter of fellowship.
People commenting.
Sounds of silence.
Babies crying.
Adults sighing.

This is church.

…as a preacher we are not merely giving sermons, rather, speaking for God with God’s people knowing our own humanity.
Full of humanity.
The body of Christ.
The people of God.
The priesthood of believers.
Trusting God. Flawed. Needy. Broken.
Dependent on grace and mercy.
Needing faith, hope and love.
Called. Gathered. Sent.

Sometimes us preachers need to sit in the pew and be reminded that there is more to Sunday than “the sermon.”  And even those we perceive as passive listeners we may be misreading.  After all, this being human and trusting God is often fraught with confusion, frustration and at times, despair. Preaching that is biblically honest, vulnerable and thoughtful concerning God, and following Jesus in light of sitting in the pew is challenging, but absolutely essential.  After all, as a preacher we are not merely giving sermons, rather, speaking for God with God’s people knowing our own humanity.

Thank you, Lord, for a Sunday to sit in the pew.
May my voice be your voice. Humbly and honestly.

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O LORD, my rock and
my redeemer.
Psalm 19.14

 

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