Faulkner Had A Point
Why have I decided to start a Wednesday night series on hot button cultural issues? I'm glad you asked. But to answer that, I'm going to need you to travel with me to Mississippi.
William Faulkner said, "To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi." I took that to heart when I moved to Mississippi in 2004. I spent the next fifteen years trying to do just that. During my time there, I served three churches on a part-time basis before becoming a full-time pastor. I saw a lot of interesting things and heard a lot of interesting stories. Thus our journey begins.
I remember the Sunday in a country church when we had to sing acapella because a cow stomped on the piano player's foot the day before. I remember another service when the substitute piano player fell asleep during my sermon and I had to wake her up to play the closing hymn. I remember the service where the music leader decided to omit a stanza from a beloved hymn. A church member stood up mid-service to chide said music leader in front of the congregation and demand that we sing all the stanzas. We started the hymn over again. Our music ministry is slightly more under control at SVC. But I digress.
I also remember some more serious things. Like when I was near the end of preaching what I thought to be a decent sermon. A young black child, whose family had been visiting our church semi-regularly, walked up the platform steps to the pulpit. I had to stop preaching to see what he needed. He handed me a note. I took the note, stuck it in my pocket, and continued preaching. After the sermon, during the closing prayer, I pulled out the note. It said, "Please pray for my family. My parents are fighting a lot."
I remember the first time a sweet lesbian couple walked into the doors of a country church where I was serving. That was a first for the church, I assure you. Six months had passed and they had continued coming to church almost every week. Then the inevitable division ensued: "They need to hear the gospel," some of the members said. "We don't want to have to explain this to our children," others said.
I remember when I worked at a high school in Jackson. An online student from another state complained to me via email that he didn't want to have to take our Mississippi history course. Why? Because Mississippi was the most terrible state in the country and they were all racists and everybody knew it and he didn't want to have to learn about it and that's that.
I remember walking through the cemetery of one church for the first time and seeing the Confederate graves marked with Confederate flags. I remember walking through the cemetery of another church and being told that the graves just outside the fence were the graves of slaves. That church used to have slaves sit outside the open windows of the sanctuary to participate in the worship services from afar.
I also remember being on the campus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson when the term "woke" started being used there. A student formed a group on campus called the Reformed African American Network (RAAN). They started using a lot of the popular "woke" language of the day with the full support of the seminary. Their leader even started calling for reparations. It wasn't long until the president of the seminary was accused by many of being a social justice warrior and cultural Marxist (other terms I learned during my time at RTS). The RAAN morphed into The Witness: A Black Christian Collective. They don't consider themselves Reformed anymore.
Many of the cultural issues that are swirling around us now as a nation were swirling around me in Mississippi: family decay, homosexuality, education, racism, being woke, the drift of the church from being Christ-centered to being social justice-centered. Maybe Faulkner had a point.
Charles Spurgeon said, "She who marries today's fashion is tomorrow's widow." Our church leadership wants to equip you to deal with hot button issues in a Biblical way. That's the point. We want you married to the only Bridegroom who will never let you down—the Lord Jesus Christ. He'll play a major role in this series because the answers to our deepest questions, and deepest needs, are found in Him. Come to our Wednesday night study at 6:00 p.m and we'll think about some of these things together. And while you're at it, invite a friend or neighbor.