The Sunday after the terrorism in Nice, I got to attend mass at Notre Dame. It’s hard for me to listen to someone else’s sermon any time. I am judgmental. The same way an artist might judge another artist’s painting or a surgeon another surgeon’s incision. It’s not right, but I do it every Sunday whether I like to or not. When I catch myself, I try to stop. But when the sermon is really bad, I feel angry at the one giving it because they have wasted a great opportunity to speak the heart of God.
If it is a truly bad sermon and I know the one preaching and I think there is a chance they might be able to do better, I’ve even been known to send an email afterwards. Makes me cringe to admit that – it isn’t like I am an expert! Seriously, who do I think I am? For instance, I heard a priest use an illustration during his sermon to compare Native culture unfavorably to Roman culture. He judged culture by whether he liked their art and architecture. I was angry angry angry afterwards! I went straight home and penned an email to him… “Dear Sermonizer, Rome was built on the backs of slaves. Native culture was not as advanced technologically, but far more honorable. Maybe you should run your future sermons by me? Sincerely, April” I didn’t really type that last part. He was a friend and we batted it back and forth for days.
Horrible isn’t it? Couldn’t help myself. It’s a genetic tick or something.
So, as I attended mass at Notre Dame, it was probably a good thing that I couldn’t understand most of the priest’s French. I liked his demeanor though. He was friendly and welcoming. It was the Sunday after the terrorism attack in Nice. As usual, I wondered what I would have preached if I had had the chance.
I wouldn’t have preached a “Don’t worry God is protecting you sermon.” No way! There is no call to action in that.
I would have preached a “Have you thought that maybe you could help prevent terrorism by opening your lives and homes to the disenfranchised — by making sure they know God’s love through your generosity – doing what you can to ensure they have hope and purpose? Did you know that by reaching out to a child, a teenager, or even an adult and truly loving them – being their advocate, providing a way for them — you can change a life forever?” I would have warned them of the danger and then told them to do it anyway. I would have told them to write me a note and tell me what God had led them to do so I could be praying for them.
I don’t know what to think about this longing. I longed to preach God’s message in that beautiful place to those beautiful people. I wanted to call them to action. To send them home with an assignment!
Despite all my internal struggles, it was an uplifting day to worship God with so many people in this ancient place. Since the 3rd century, people have sought God here. That is amazing to me!
Check out April’s Books, Disorderly Bible Studies, for group and individual study.