Thursday, November 05, 2009

Preaching to the homeless

On Wednesday, I was scheduled to lead the chapel service that takes place for homeless folks before they eat lunch at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. Initially, I was going to talk about the call of Jeremiah found in Jeremiah 1:4-10. We're using that on Sunday for a "connect with youth" Sunday, and thought I would try out some of my stuff. Then, about an hour before the service was to begin, I received an e-mail telling me that one of the regular attendees of the chapel service and the free lunch on Wednesdays had been murdered while he slept the night before. Shot in the back of the head.

Needless to say, I didn't talk about Jeremiah. I decided to use Psalm 10, a lament Psalm, that names the pain and suffering of the "have nots" who are oppressed by those who always get/have what they want. I expressed my sorrow at the loss of life, and let the folks at chapel know that I believe in a God who hears our lament, and a God who expects us to be real with our pain, sorrow, doubt, frustration, and even hope. I asked folks to offer up some laments, and then we all responded with the response of "God, You are a revolution!" These are words from a David Crowder Band song called Revolutionary Love.

I'm scheduled to preach at chapel again next week. God only knows what the message will be. I do know that preaching in that context feels completely different than Harpeth. Sure, people are people, but it feels somewhat strange to stand before those folks and speak of matters of faith. Allowing Psalm 10 to do the preaching was the way to go this week. I wonder how the regular preacher does it week after week. Surely he doesn't use the same sermon he preaches on Sunday morning. Or, does he? Anyway, I'm schedule to preach at chapel again next week. God only knows what the message will be.

4 comments:

bsmithhill said...

Wow, Alan. What an intense situation to find yourself in; I'm sure you pulled it off with grace and the sincerity that all people appreciate. Good for you for making homeless individuals a priority.
Hope you are well,
Bec

Andy said...

God only knows my friend and only God can provide the message for you to speak from your heart.

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