Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, February 19, 2006

As I sit here in my office praying over this text that won't let me go--Matthew 5:43-48--I remember these words of William Willimon: "'The Trouble with you preachers is that you are always talking about something so far removed from my world, where I really live, as to be incomprehensible. Keep your sermons close to the real world,' he said to me as we shook hands at the church door. "I turned his criticism into a homiletical compliment. Where did he get the idea that a preacher ought to defer to 'my world'? Most good sermons have a quarrel with popular definitions of 'the real world.' I ought not simply to address the world where people currently reside. Rather, I ought to move their citizenship to a new world."


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    By Blogger Ahnog, at 2/19/2006 04:44:00 AM  

  • "Rather, I ought to move their citizenship to a new world."

    I agree, Mike, but also need the 'how do I put up with this world while I'm being moved into the new one's citizenship?'

    You know I love your sermons which so often bring me to meditation and mulling. At the same time, I will occasionally struggle with pulling the message's guy wires down a bit into my day-to-day slogging along. But maybe it's good, the temporary lifting me up out of the slog. ;) So keep preaching, my dear pastor, keep preaching us into that wonderous, longed for new world.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/19/2006 04:44:00 AM  

  • I don't know about this one Mike. Are you sure he wasn't saying that he needed things about where he was so he could get to that other world your refer to?

    In any event, I think I see both sides of it.

    God bless,

    By Blogger Ahnog, at 2/19/2006 04:46:00 AM  

  • I don't think Willimon is suggesting a sermon shouldn't be relevant or that it doesn't need to connect with people right where they are.

    But in typical Willimon fashion he's saying that the goal of a message is to imagine a world that is different, one that is kingdom-filled.

    Preaching, at its best, is full of imagination. It draws us into the world of the gospel.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/19/2006 05:16:00 AM  

  • Can't help but add this blog from Larry James about Hungry Grandparents.

    Once each month, for several years now, Central Dallas Ministries has participated in a program offered to Dallas by the North Texas Food Bank. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), an effort of the United States Department of Agriculture, provides nutrient-rich foods to low-income persons on a monthly basis.

    Organizations like CDM serve as distribution centers.

    Each month our great staff and faithful community volunteers have been providing fruits and vegetables, juices, meats, fish, peanut butter, cereals and grain products, cheese and other dairy products to low-income persons through this wonderful program.

    At CDM all of the beneficiaries of these supplemental foods are elderly persons.

    We serve grandparents!

    Nationwide 90% of those served in this program are senior citizens.

    You should be here on this special day each month.

    The atmosphere is part carnival, part social event, part church fellowship! The wonderful older folks who show up are so grateful for the food. They are also glad to see each other and our team.

    CSFP is one of the smartest, cleanest, most economical programs available.

    But, during FY2006, the program will be severely cut back--59,000 people will be dropped. In Dallas, 700 elderly residents will no longer be allowed to receive this benefit.

    If Congress approves the President's budget for FY2007, the entire program will be eliminated to cut spending costs, again, to find funds to help underwrite more tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens.

    Translation: over 459,000 seniors from across the nation will no longer receive the monthly food supplement, over 7,000 here in Dallas.

    A recent survey of current participants revealed that more than 50% of seniors who live alone reported monthly income of less than $750. In senior households of two, more than half reported monthly income of less than $1,000 per month.

    When asked about plans to cut this community-based, highly efficient program, the Dallas Congressional office of U. S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) responded by saying that these seniors could "sign up for Food Stamps."

    Oh, sure. Transportation, paperwork, pride. . .only a partial list of the roadblocks for seniors seeking the meager Food Stamp benefit.

    Clearly, Mr. Hensarling knows very little, if anything, about poverty as a crushing fact of life.

    But then, that's why we have this problem, isn't it?

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/19/2006 05:19:00 AM  

  • Mike I have found that this life sucks (the joy right out of you). I love that you confront that sucking noise and spark in us the desire to under stand and live a different Life. I have found that God calls us to live what we preach. God bless you today for you are called to preach a lesson I find hard to live.

    By Blogger Clint, at 2/19/2006 05:47:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I would love to be able to hear, or read your sermon from this text. How do I go about doing that? Thanks for all of your work in the Kingdom.

    By Blogger Gilbert, at 2/19/2006 05:59:00 AM  

  • Nobody does it better than you, Mike. Preaching can be removed from real life but authentic preaching reaches the heart where life is real. Your message is relevant and carries the intent of God. Your humbleness is a strength but God uses you to reach and teach a lot of us. Pray yourself hot and let it go!

    By Blogger Paul, at 2/19/2006 06:10:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Sometimes you may need to preach with one of those big foam fingers on your hand that fans wear at ball games...very wordly, yes, but always pointing in another direction.

    By Blogger Eli Perkins, at 2/19/2006 06:17:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I would also like to hear this lesson. I'm sure God will use you to relay a powerful message this morning.
    I will say this world is a tough one, and we sure hear about it in pulpits these days. But, I know there is a better world, a Kingdom that God rules. I would love to hear more about that kingdom and the power it has in our lives.

    By Blogger Logan and Katie Brown, at 2/19/2006 07:46:00 AM  

  • Great message this morning! You really looked buffed. Maybe it was the shirt. :)
    Thank you -- you made my day!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 2/19/2006 09:26:00 AM  

  • Mike-

    I know I'm a little off topic here, but wasn't it Willimon who also said what you read this morning: "God give me the grace as a preacher not to protect people from Jesus."

    I wrote it down in my notebook while you were praying right after that. I'm sure it would have been better to pray with you, but I just didn't want to lose those words...

    I know he was speaking in his immediate context to preachers, but - honestly - I think there are about a zillion ways I also try to do that: with my kids, with my peers, in conversations with others about spirituality.

    It really hit me for some reason, as soon as it came out of your mouth.

    By Blogger Matt, at 2/19/2006 10:57:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    You made me cry this morning..Maybe each one of us has someone, a name, a memory of someone who hurt us, problems never resolved, someone who we wish we could see again to say to them, "I forgive you." My someone's name was "Daddy".........

    By Blogger Beverly, at 2/19/2006 11:15:00 AM  

  • I certainly agree that we need to move our citizenship to a new world. Nothing pleases me more, but you really captured the attention of the crowd today with the story of a 6 year old Mike in a real world situation. We have to start here. That's exactly what I saw happening this morning with Clint and Alana. They started us off in their real world situation but those of us who know them and love them saw them move into a new world - a world of victory and grace. It was an overwhelmingly holy moment.

    By Blogger Candy, at 2/19/2006 11:15:00 AM  

  • Forgive me, Mike - I'd like to use your blog to send a love note to Alana and Clint.

    You two brought special blessings and depth to Communion time this morning. Clint, you had me crying with you, for your hurts and tender heart . I so wanted to hug you, to tell you it's all going to be okay, it'll be okay.

    I'm one of the few at Highland that met you only after the accident, so maybe my perspective is a bit different than others. I've always know Clint as "that fat, bald guy in a wheelchair" as you put it this morning [silly guy! LOL,] :O) and Alana as the devoted, loving, supportive wife, all the while being very much her own woman as well. I just hope you two know how much I love and admire you.

    Thank you for this morning!!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/19/2006 12:27:00 PM  

  • Clint and Alana - Unbelievable communion time. Thanks for your words of faith and recommitment, Clint. Thanks to both of you for the meaningful prayers.

    Matt - Yes, that story was also from Willimon. Isn't that a great line? Please spare us from protecting people from Jesus! (I think you've quoted it just right.)

    Beverly - Very touching application of the passage in your own life, my friend.

    Logan/Katie - This message will be on our podcast. Do you use itunes?

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/19/2006 01:00:00 PM  

  • Mike

    Can you explain what your struggle was with Matthew 5? I'm intrigued because I was leading a small study group on fruits on the Spirit. Today we started with Love and our first reading was the same piece of Scripture. After that we moved onto agape love, and then Luke 10:25-37.

    Thinking about Luke is interesting because Jesus is showing an example of your enemy acting as an example to you of how you should behave.

    Anyhow, can you post the sermon?


    By Blogger Bernard, at 2/19/2006 02:56:00 PM  

  • Mike

    Never mind. I found the Highland Church of Christ sermon page at http://www.highlandchurch.org/listen.

    I'll wait for the lesson to be loaded later in the week.


    By Blogger Bernard, at 2/19/2006 03:02:00 PM  

  • Bernard - I ended the assembly with the Luke 10 reading as our benediction. The difficulty with the passage is not in understanding it but in obeying it. Does Jesus really mean for us to love our enemies? Does he refusal to retaliate really serve as an example for us in a hostile world? I don't think we're streaming all sermons now. I think we're dropping them on podcasts.

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/19/2006 04:20:00 PM  

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