Two years ago everyone was eager to preach on the Da Vinci Code, and I suppose there might be a sermon here or there this summer on Harry Potter, the last book of the seven appearing as it is. The need to address what is current is ever with a preacher, and those preachers who ignore what is happening in the world soon pay the price, for their sermons not only seem to be irrelevant, they actually become irrelevant.
Ahh relevancy. The golden apple of communication, or Snow White’s stepmother’s apple, filled with poison. Add to this the need to be relevant to those who do not believe. The Jim and Casper go to church project reminds me of the project of the Anglican Church in Canada which a number of years ago contracted with one of Canada’s foremost atheists, Pierre Berton, to ask his opinion on what the church should do to be more relevant. The result was Berton’s book The Comfortable Pew in which he said many of the things we hear from Casper: forget religion, go out and do good.
When Erwin McManus tells Casper that he won’t understand much of what is going on during the Mosaic worship service, Casper is offended. But actually McManus is in principle correct, for our eyes are blinded to the meaning and relevancy of the Word of God until illuminated by the Holy Spirit. This would also hold true for the worship service to the extent that the worship service is a proclamation of the Word. That is, what is truly understood, in the sense of gaining knowledge of God, is understood because of a gracious act of the Holy Spirit.
I think in our preaching and in our church services we need to return to deep dependence on the Spirit. In saying this I do cringe, because it has been such a cliché. And, wow, aren’t we all dependent? So, I don’t mean to say it as an accusation, but as a way of saying, we have done this, but we need to revisit what we are doing in seeking the Spirit and revitalize the very act of seeking. Or, become seekers before we can preach to seekers. Otherwise, everything is irrelevant by definition.