Living in San Diego and having family in Norfolk, Virginia, I probably hear more sermons that involve military life than most Americans. I thought little of it this past Sunday when a video of a naval officer's account of war and call for church members to help those in combat and their families ran across the church televisions. But then we prayed for service women and men. And the pastor had all "retired and active" service people stand. It seemed a bit excessive. Then I realized it was Memorial Day weekend.
It reminded me of the sermons of Gilded Age evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody.
On August 1, 2009, The Mobile Press-Register published an article written by Greg Garrison of the Religion News Service entitled, “Heaven? Sure. Hell? Not so much.” Shortly thereafter, a parishioner of ours brought in a copy for me and wondered aloud, “Why don’t we talk about hell any more?” It just so happened that the answer to his question appeared in the teaser quote right at the top of the article.
This Sunday’s texts from Daniel and Mark (and, perhaps, Hebrews) are quite apocalyptic in their outlook. This may lead most preachers to focus their attentions elsewhere—though post-election, many U.S. partisans may be feeling fairly apocalyptic themselves.
Do you know what the antidote for fear is?” the minister asked. The answer jumped into my head immediately. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17, NASB). But since it’s generally frowned upon for a member of the choir in an Episcopal cathedral to shout out answers to rhetorical questions from the pulpit, I kept quiet.