By Tom Holmes
Pastor Mitty Having Trouble Getting Started on His Sermon for Sunday
Pastor Walter Mitty knew he should get started on his sermon. It was two o'clock on Saturday afternoon, and he hadn't even read the commentaries yet.
His problem was that he couldn't get Bill Clinton off his mind. The guy had really dazzled them at the Democratic National Convention. He was so good that even some Republicans said they wished he were still president.
Clinton's pacing, pitch, gestures, "awe shucks would I lie to you" demeanor, his stage presence. The guy had it all.
As he often did when he listened to gifted speakers, Mitty was right there with him at the podium, pointing with him at the audience as he said, "Now, I want you to hear this." He even imagined that the Obama team had called him to be the speaker who would introduce the ex-president. "Pastor Mitty," the phone call would go, "we know you are a busy man, but you are such a great speaker. We could really use your gifts as a communicator to reach out to independents."
Mitty was so revved up by Clinton's speech that he didn't feel like going to bed, so he hopped from one station to another until at channel 65 he tuned in to the Rev. Eddie Love. He was preaching to a crowd of 3,000 people going crazy with "amens" and "alleluia" and "praise the Lord" at the Love Life Greater Chicago Prosperity Deliverance Temple. And this was on a Wednesday night!
Every once in awhile, when Pastor Mitty got discouraged at his inability to make his little Poplar Park Community Church grow and be successful, he would tune into the Rev. Love and imagine what it would be like to pace back and forth across the stage with a floppy leather bound Bible in his left hand, dazzling thousands of adoring and inspired parishioners. A rocking six piece gospel band wouldn't hurt things either.
Vicariously preaching with the Rev. Love always made Mitty feel better. . . . . . . .that is, until he turned off the TV. That's when reality would set back in and he'd begin comparing the miniscule results of his ministry with the success of the Love Life Temple.
Mitty glanced at the clock on the wall. 2:45. He took a deep breath. Got to get started.
He found the gospel for Sunday in the schedule he had made for his sermon series on the Gospel of Mark. Mark 8:27-38. He didn't have to look it up in the Bible. He'd preached that text, in one of the gospels, maybe twenty times over the years. The Son of Man must undergo great suffering. . . . .if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross.
"Not exactly the text I'd choose to preach from at the Love Life Prosperity Temple," he thought. "Wouldn't work at the Democratic convention, either."
He looked at the clock on the wall again. 3:15. "Wouldn't dazzle anybody."
"So what would Bill Clinton do with a text which states that the one we look to as a savior would suffer and die?" thought Mitty. "What stories would he tell to motivate the crowd? What gestures? What dramatic changes of pitch and cadence? What would he do to dazzle the crowd?"
As hard as he tried, he couldn't imagine what the ex-president would say. So his mind changed stations to channel 65. What would the Rev. Love preach to the Prosperity Temple? What praise song would the band play?
Mitty stared out his office window at the lawn which had been so brown and dried up just a month ago. Didn't have to mow it for three weeks in a row. The lawn was healthy now after the rains and the impatiens along the church were lush. But the lawn would be brown again, the trees bare and the flowers shriveled up in just a few months. He looked at the clock. 3:30.
A melancholy mood was coming over him. He thought of the honor roll of Americans who had died in Afghanistan which the Newshour showed sometimes at the end of the program. He thought of all the big promises the Republicans and Democrats had made at their conventions.
"Maybe," thought Mitty, "maybe Clinton wouldn't know how to dazzle them with this text." He then tried to imagine what the Rev. Love would say to the thousands at the Prosperity Temple. "Maybe," said Mitty to himself, "he wouldn't know what to do with it either."