Ask parishioners of Covenant Church which sermon they would remember out of 35 years my hunch is many would say the “Merry-go-round Sermon.”
The Sunday after 911 the sermon began with a reference to sociologist Ernest Burgess’ concentric zone theory published in 1925 to illustrate where we would be going in the future. Burgess studied cities as zones. It is easy to google Burgess for further study.
The sermon suggested that post 9-11 would be like folks on a merry-go-round.
Technology fails. The merry-go-round goes faster and faster. No one seems to have the power to slow the merry-go-round down. Consternation. Anxiety. Fear. Panic.
Those on outer edges begin to fall off, e.g., persons mentally ill, homeless, criminals, etc.
Next to fall off are persons partially employed, employed with low wages, no benefits, persons in broken home situations, etc.
Next to fall off are persons with modest security, but no deep reserves. Those to which daily living requires great effort to keep up/survive.
Next to fall off are those who fare better; those who have never suffered and are able to enjoy life.
Finally, at the center of the merry-go-round are those who feel sure they could survive all the ups and downs of the economy, war, natural disasters or other difficulties of life. During the storm and after they would be safe and have sufficient.
When fear comes to those at the center society it is a high risk of revolution or anarchy.
Ours is such a time as shakes the soul of the most stout-hearted.
NATO is less than healthy.
The United Nations is disgracefully dysfunctional.
The Middle East is a boiling cauldron.
Russia is flexing its military muscle.
Iran is saber-rattling.
Mexico is challenged with drug lords.
China is testing world powers and threatening Taiwan.
The Philippine government is restless and unpredictable.
Our own country is experiencing tumult exacerbated by the technology of instant media.
Churches are now embroiled in politics, moral and ethical issues not just dividing denominations but also dividing saints in the pews.
Narcissism is drifting to hedonism with public figures wearing their sins openly as if they are a badge of honor.
There is a high risk of pastors taking politics to the pulpit and dividing congregations.
Good folks, God-fearing folks, tax-paying, law-abiding and church-going are shaken in their souls. We have to watch every word we say. Be careful of media postings. Recognize that persecution of Christians is on a more massive scale than any time in history. According to recent research, Christians are the most persecuted people in the world.
We wonder if the merry-go-round will fling the strongest off. Paul’s admonition in II Timothy 3, “in the last days perilous times shall come”, seems very present.
Our only hope is for pulpits to regain fallen ground and return to preaching the Gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need ministers who are Called. We need ministers who are fearless when it comes to declaring the truths of the Gospel. We need ministers who spend less time preaching theory and more time preaching fact. We need ministers who leave politics out of the pulpit. We need ministers who believe in and preach the power of the cross.
911 brought changes that will not be reversed.
Our world has “speeded up”.
Our anchor in these times is Jesus.