Walking Into a Message

Had lunch with a friend the other day. He is a Lutheran pastor. We were talking about how inspiration comes for a message. As with all pastors, he runs into dry spells where he struggles to land upon something fesh and life-giving for his congregation.

In one incident he wanted to deliver a message on Christ's baptism at the Jordan River at the hands of His cousin, John. The exercise is intended to symbolize death to the old sinful life and a new beginning. But Christ was sinless. He turned to the baffled Baptist and stated that it 'was necessary to fulfill all righteousness'.

My friend was stuck, even to the point of the Sunday morning hour. Dressed in collar, suit etc. he stopped in at a coffee shop before service. The woman at the counter said, "You are a minister. I have a daughter suffering with a diagnosis of cancer. Would you pray for her? We have a moment."

"Certainly", the man said. "What is her name?"

"Her name is Faith Rivers*."

This was a moment of thunder-clap revelation to my friend. In the everyday, at a coffee counter. A simple woman had the courage and the unblemished hope to believe for rescue in prayer. To call upon God mid-stream and to know that Christ understood the problem, and had gotten into our mortal mix. That He identified with the roil and the turmoil of a fallen world, and was introducing a new life in righteousness.

Here was the hinge-pin of my friend's new sermon. He spent a moment with the woman addressing her needs. He took that coffee cup. An hour later he raised it before the congregation as the prop for a memorable message full of the heart of Jesus. And full of the reminder that opportunity to bless lies just around the next corner.

(*name has been changed)


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