Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rev. Pfleger Suspended

Rev. Michael Pfleger was suspended from his post according to the Associate Press this morning. Cardinal Francis George asked him to take some time off and reflect on his statements about Hillary Clinton during his sermon at Trinity Church in Chicago. I was impressed with the way Rev. Pfleger handled some reporters early on in the Wright/Obama controversy but was very put off by his mocking which lead to his suspension.

Preachers are to address political issues from the pulpit. We need to address the treatment of the poor, rights of the ‘least of these,’ and morality. These issues and many more, will lead to politician views. Much of Jesus’ teachings had political ramifications. I am not a believer that we should separate politics and preaching, but it needs to be done right. Attacking candidates should not even be on the radar. That crosses the fine line of responsibility and good taste.

When Rev. Wright’s sermons exploded onto the scene, I took the time to watch his entire sermon and I thought the sound bites he was reduced to did not do his sermon justice. The blogging world came to Rev. Wright’s side too and stood up for him, again this is when the controversy just began, and not Wright’s latest statements. I look at Rev. Pfleger’s comments though I cannot conceive of a correct context.

Preaching is conveying the Word of God to the people of God. It is not to be a time of self acclamation, pampas boosting of one’s own ego, or using one’s words to create a huge red arrow that says, “look at me…I’m important.” I wonder if this is what Rev. Pfleger attempted to do. He must have known that this sermon would have gotten on YouTube and spread across the internet and news networks. Trinity Church is under constant surveillance by the media because of Wright’s words. I can only think that this moment was his attempt at drawing attention to himself and not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would love to hear the whole sermon in its entirety to make sure I’m not over reaching here. I’ve looked for it online and could not find it. If anyone knows of video of the entire sermon, please leave me a link in the comments.

I was glad to see the church’s hierarchy stepping up and holding a minister accountable for his words. I would hope that the higher ups in my denomination would do the same if a minister caused national controversy that was not standing up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Preachers have been given a heavy responsibility. When we stand behind a pulpit we represent God. We need to choose our words carefully. The goal of preaching is not to boost our egos but to become transparent. Preaching at its best becomes so transparent that people don’t see the individual behind the pulpit, they see God.

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