My heart hurts for Paris and the nation of France.
When I stand in the pulpit on Sunday, the images of horror will be fresh in all of our hearts.
As pastors, many will look to us to set a tone for how to react to such evil acts.
In situations like this, the title of pastor is both an honor and a burden. I don't have better answers than anyone else. But as I’ve been thinking and praying about it, I've made some decisions about what I will and will not say and do.
I offer my ideas here, not as a prescription for other pastors, but as an insight into my heart and mind. If you can draw any help from these points, great. If they don’t apply to you, set them aside and do what God lays on your heart.
1. I won’t politicize this
I don’t do politics from the pulpit. It’s just not how I minister. But, even if I did, I wouldn’t do it this Sunday.
There will be a time for political debate and decisions. This is not that time.
When people come to church tomorrow, they'll need a place to worship, pray and cry – not yell, debate and argue.
2. I won’t stoke people’s anger and fear
It’s easy to be mad right now. Righteously so.
It would be easy to get people riled up.
It would also be easy to frighten people.
But fear, also known as terror, is the reason we call these people terrorists. They want to stoke anger and fear. I refuse to give in to that.
One of the most frequently repeated commands in the Bible is, “fear not.” I'll follow that lead.
3. I will point people to Jesus
I don’t know how to fix this. God does. But I’m not him.
It’s the mystery of evil.
But I know who is the answer. Tomorrow will be about him.
4. I will lead the church in prayer
- For the victims and those who love them
- For Paris
- For France
- For peace
- For our leaders to have wisdom
5. I will preach on the text I had planned to preach on
I didn’t know the Paris attacks were going to happen when I set up our current sermon series. But Jesus did.
Unless I sense a clear, Spirit-led, last-minute change of direction (which happens sometimes) I plan to preach on the text at hand.
6. I will cry with those who cry
Anger is easy. And cheap. And, in these situations, almost always harmful.
Empathy is hard. And deep. And always the right thing to do when people are hurting.
7. I will dedicate my first grandchild – and rejoice
Yes, this is pinpoint specific to our family.
Tomorrow, I will call my daughter, son-in-law and first grandchild to the platform.
I will hold Connor in my arms, show him off to the congregation and offer a choke-back-the-tears prayer of thanks, blessing and hope for this wonderful gift to our family.
In that public, yet profoundly personal act, we will be reminded that the loving gifts of a loving God shine brightest in the darkness.
8. I will pray for you and your church
You won’t minister in your church the way I will minister in mine.
But I pray that we will all be guided by the same spirit of hope, peace, wisdom and comfort.
Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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