noted earlier, there was an op-ed in yesterday's NY Times from a UCC minister and journalist named G. Jeffrey MacDonald. I was surprised when I looked him up to realize that a) he's probably my age and b) he graduated from seminary just a year before I did because his editorial sounded like someone who expected things to be like they were in the 50's when people respected clergy.
Seriously, was this guy living under a rock? And what kind of mythical world did he live in that there used to be a time when congregations blithely accepted "sermons that make the comfortable uneasy."
Here's the thing: I don't think preachers are called to preach sermons that make the comfortable uneasy. I think pastors are called to preach the gospel to the best of their ability; it is the gospel's job to make the comfortable uneasy. In my opinion, when once we start getting into the position of feeling "I need to make them uncomfortable," we are getting ourselves in hot water. This is why I despise the phrase, "Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." How dare we presume to know who is comfortable and who is not.
You know who feels most uncomfortable every time I preach a sermon? Usually it's me. That is one of the great blessings of preaching the gospel: I am afflicted by it. I find myself convicted again and again. I am no less under that authority than anyone else in the congregation, and if I should find myself and the gospel on equal terms with the authority to convict others, somebody slap me, please.