I love Cleveland. I love that it is filled with salt-of-the-earth people who work hard at jobs they less than love so they can put food on the table. I love that our world renowned art museum is free. I love that we are a city that has the one of the best heart hospitals in the world, and that we can turn something like our river catching on fire as a reason to name a Great Lakes Brewery beer. It doesn't matter that we have been hurt time and time again by our sports teams, we always have hope that this year, this season, this time will be the year.
I love Cleveland so very much, and my heart is breaking for it right now in grief as we learn that in our neighborhood on the west side of town, three women were held hostage in a basement for ten years.
I have been invited to preach at my home congregation this weekend, a date that has been booked for months. I love going home to preach, but I must admit I am very intimidated about climbing into the pulpit this week. There is no question in my mind that at least one person between the three services this weekend will know a family member of one of those women, if not the women themselves. The Holy Spirit has been gnawing at me all week, leading me to preach the sermon that was not planned instead of the one that was.
The blessings about home churches is that they love and nurture their seminarians. They can love us to a fault. No one in my congregation would bat an eye if I preached the sermon I had written, the one about mothers and baptismal vocations. They would forgive me for overlooking the elephant in the room. They would forgive me for preaching the easy way out.
But that is not what I as a leader of the church am called to do. I can feel the Spirit leading me down a road that hopefully will bring the right message to the right people in the right time. This is why we preach - to bring the Gospel of Christ to the God's people when they need it most. God does not ask us to preach the easy sermon. God calls us to be faithful to the Gospel on God's terms, not ours.
So today I pray. I humble myself before the wisdom of the One who shelters people in all their joys and sorrows. And I trust that where in my humanity I fall short, the grace of Christ will ring loud and strong.