THOSE STRONG GUIDING HANDS
We may not like the theology of Leslie Weatherhead, but he is nevertheless a world-famous preacher of no mean ability. A sermon of his is reported in Pulpit Digest, April, 1962, and it contains the true story heard by him thirty years ago of a cowboy who had just heard the gripping story of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He reacted as only a cowhand would, and said thoughtfully, "Jesus must have had wonderful hands!"
Probably never having seen the way a cowboy fixes the rope around his hands when he rides an unbroken animal, his hearers asked, "What do you mean?"
"Well," he said, "if Jesus could sit on a colt on which no man had ever sat, an untried, unbroken animal; if He could soothe it and control it and guide it while people were shrieking hosannas in its ears, waving the branches of palm trees in front of its eyes, and throwing down clothes before its feet, He must have had wonderful hands."
Then with skillful and humorous touch, the preacher applied his story to the crucifixion thus:
"Yes, and next Friday we shall be thinking again of those hands. The nailprint of love's uttermost is upon them. But will you think it very offensive if I say this to you, since I say it to myself? What He can do for one donkey He can do for another, meaning you and me! The challenge of this morning's service I would like to be this: you and I realize that the way forward is perfectly clear and the guiding hands are available. Individually, in the family, in the home, in the community, in the city, in the nation, in the group of nations, He offers His guidance."
H. W. L.
PASTOR OR EVANGELIST
In the New Testament church every preacher and church member is an evangelist. The church was then a fledgling organization with few of the complications that face a world organization. To be sure, as the church has grown, the scope of its ministry has broadened. There are the medical, educational, financial, temperance, communications, lay activities, Sabbath school, ministerial, war service, and youth divisions of the church, directing it in its many and varied activities. The publishing department disseminates millions of volumes a year through its lay salesmen, and the E. G. White trustees faithfully channel the inspired counsels where they are needed. Organizational expansion demands a certain degree of specialization. This too is after the gospel order. What is not after the gospel order is that a Christian permit his duties, whatever they are, to so insulate him from the public that he can find no time to engage in any form of personal missionary activity. The Christian who is too busy even to pass out a tract is too busy.
And what of those who would separate the work of a pastor from that of an evangelist? At the most it is a man-fabricated partition, and a flimsy one at that. The writer was reared in the old tradition of pastoral evangelism. The pastor of the church was expected to add appreciably to its membership or relinquish his claim to the apostleship. At this late date in church history, whence cometh this new notion? This idea that the pastor can be pastor without evangelizing, if seriously countenanced, could only result in an entrenched, privileged pastorate, with evangelism scoffed at as the enterprise of the unlearned. The pastoral chair would become the "seat of the scornful" and the evangelistic team "the cynic's band." Is it not so in many large communions today? Has it not inevitably resulted in those groups becoming "church-bound"? Let this fervent chant be heard throughout the land, "Every pastor an evangelist, and every church an evangelistic center!"
E. E. C.
A WORSHIPING PREACHER
"THAT man does not conduct the worship of the congregation. He worships with it." So said a shrewd woman who went casually to one of the first services conducted in the City Temple, London, England, by Leonard Griffith, formerly pastor of Chalmers United Church, Ottawa, Canada.
It is said that Leonard Griffith has a predominant pastoral element in his preaching, and friends suspect that he misses the family and home-life contacts of his Ottawa church as compared with those of the famous City Temple where people go to worship but live miles away in a vast impersonal suburbia.
Can we become so professional that we lead worship rather than partake in it? Should all public ministry be an act of worship rather than habitual ritual? Does the preacher need to be a worshiper rather than a functionary and performer? What more than a common act of worship can make us one with our people rather than one above them? Can a ministry remain remote when worship is its dominant note?
It is imperative for our own soul's sake as well as for our people's that we become worshiping preachers—publicly, privately, unceasingly!
H. W. L.