Last week, I zipped down the street to attend a United Methodist district clergy meeting. Now normally I would look forward to such a gathering with the enthusiasm of licking a dust mop. No offense to any of my pastoral colleagues, many of whom I’ve developed wonderful friendships over the years, but I have noted numerous times in print that I loathe church meetings. I wish I could have the time that I have spent in such unproductive sessions back. I could take a nice, long overseas vacation with my wife. That is, if I had the money as well as the time.
But I was actually looking forward to this meeting. For one thing, it was held at a church that was only a couple of miles from my house. I knew the proceedings wouldn’t be long, because a laity meeting followed ours. Our bishop, Mike Lowry, was on hand to address the troops and I always enjoy listening to him. He gave us a “pep talk” and held a Q & A session.
During his talk, Bishop Lowry instructed the clergy to sermonize frequently on the dangers of our age:
- Hedonism, the unbridled pursuit of pleasure
- Deism, the belief in a detached, vague God
- Syncretism, the melding of Christianity with other faith systems. Bishop Lowry reminded us that we are not all climbing the same mountain. “Some of us are not even in the same mountain range,” he said.
Bishop Lowry urged us to deliver distinctly Christian messages solidly rooted in orthodox, trinitarian theology. After the meeting, as I returned home, I thought how refreshing it was that we have a bishop who delivers such strong and clear messages.
And then it hit me:
Why would a church leader have to tell a bunch of clergy to preach Christian sermons?