Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: Take the Pulpit when You Go
By jo kopatz
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We may think the pulpit is at the front of the church and that only one person, or a small group, within the congregation is qualified to teach from it, but God has put before each of us a pulpit and it stands between us and everyone we come in contact with. Whether we want the responsibility or not, we, as believers, are in the preaching profession.
You stand at the pulpit when your boss has finished loudly reaming you out and all eyes are on you waiting for a response.
When your child spills juice on your important business papers, you have the impressionable audience every evangelist has dreamed of.
You can be sure you are up on that platform when the stranger walks into your church and gazes around uncertainly, wondering if she belongs.
And when your friend confides a sin that’s been holding him down and filling his life with the fear of exposure, you may feel the pressure of your position.
Public speaking is one of the most dreaded activities, often experienced as a downward spiral from simple self-consciousness to may-the-earth-open-up-and-swallow-me humiliation. However, even worse than knowing that you must speak - or take your turn at charades! - before a group of people, is to be caught unawares. To be saying something deeply personal, then realize the room is silent - for how long? - yours is the only voice, and it’s been heard. You know those moments when you thought you were alone and then were caught doing something silly, or worse, doing something wrong. We are in the pulpit and sometimes thinking about it can give us the shakes and make us despair. We make mistakes, we feel unworthy, and we just want to get down and watch someone else make a fool of their self.
As Christ’s disciples we have an incredible message of love; we have a message we want to share with others. It may be tempting to just sit in the audience and applaud other speakers we think are more accomplished than ourselves, but how long can we watch, without action, before we feel the listlessness of an empty life, or the burning of words left unsaid? Our responsibilities give our life purpose; it is the realization that we can have an impact on those around us that gives a sense of excitement and meaning. We risk losing so much when we overlook the little moments in our life, these are our chances to imbue life with meaning. Just as often as we ask what the meaning of life is, life is asking us the same question back.
We are at the pulpit. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, regularly we make mistakes, but we know we need to be here. Our comfort is in Christ; he himself is our pulpit and so much more In our weakness we may clutch the lectern before us, hoping it has the strength to keep us from collapsing. And in just that way we grab hold of Jesus in our fear and helplessness. He stands between us and all else, giving us our authority, providing us with a hiding place, the one our words rest on. He has called us, and washed us, lifting us from the mud we lived in to the platform we now stand on. When all eyes are on us, and the pressure to perform is crushing, we need to remember we were bought by Christ, God is our only master. We are servants in God’s house, and many people have been invited in, whom we serve not because they have some high status that demands it, but because they are God’s dear guests and we want to please the one who calls us: my precious child!
Don’t abdicate your role, don’t live in ignorance of your position, rest at the pulpit before you and rejoice in the love that brought you here!
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