The preacher had me from his first word.
He must be almost 80-years-old. White wavy hair and amazing stage presence, this gentleman carefully, lovingly and powerfully "unpacked" the text he had chosen.
In about twenty minutes he pressed my heart up against important truth.
He didn't waste my time. He didn't let me off the hook. He didn't insult my intelligence. He wasn't cute or cuddly or, well, religious.
He was real. Real about the world where I live everyday.
The thing that really got me though was how he framed the implications of his message.
It wasn't about me. It wasn't about any one individual.
The whole point had to do with "the us" of faith.
He called a community, a group, a movement to action in a way that I haven't heard in a long while.
He suggested that we could think and act together above and beyond the isolated needs and selfish concerns of any of the individuals gathered to experience worship. There was no suggestion of a cheapened salvation in isolation from my community and its pain, its need and its injuries.
He suggested, no, he insisted that we were all "in over our heads," but that together, with hearts turned toward a power beyond our own capacity, we--that is right, "WE"--could really make a difference in this city and in our world.
As I listened to him, I thought about the other sort of messages that were being heard elsewhere across the city. I've heard them hundreds of times. I've delivered them myself. Sermons that played to individualism and the consumerism that always comes packaged with such a focus on the "I" of life.
The pastor who stood before me Sunday insisted that I grow beyond such shallow concerns. He nailed our problem as a nation. He put the spotlight on our shame.
He simply asked that "we" do better together.
I'll be back tomorrow, Sunday, to hear more.