The clear-eyed Simcha Fisher takes aim and tosses some welcome darts:
Yelling At the Choir What’s worse than preaching to the choir? How about railing at the choir because the choir is so small? Dear Father, we already know it’s important to come. That’s why we’re here. If you’d like to see better numbers, encourage us to be courageous and invite our friends and family to come next week. Give us some encouragement; feed us some lines; challenge us to reach out. Remind us we have a duty to evangelise. But please don’t take out your frustration on the folks who actually made it through the door. Sit, Stand, Kneel, Bow AND BEYOND I don’t want to raise my hand if I have a Bible in my house. I don’t want to turn around in my seat and wave at my neighbour. I don’t want to be harangued into shouting “Amen” louder and louder and louder until you’re satisfied that we’re wide awake. I know that “audience participation” makes sermons more arresting and memorable, but we’re not actually an audience, and ad libbed hijinks are just not appropriate during the liturgy. We get to offer ourselves to the Father along with Jesus Christ crucified. We are here to participate in the divine mysteries. That’s the kind of participation we’re here for. You’re not gonna top that, so please don’t try by resorting to gimmicks. Miracle debunkers. Sweet fancy Moses, why? You just read us the story of the Red Sea parting, or the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, and now it’s our spiritual father’s chance to help us understand what these miracles meant in the context of salvation history and what they tell us about God’s omnipotence and bounty. But no. Instead, you’re going to snark that probably the wind was just blowing really hard that day, and those primitive, gullible Israelites mistook it for a supernatural event. Or maybe you’ll finish relating how Jesus lovingly fed the multitudes with such abundant food that there were twelve baskets full of leftovers, and this is actually a story about … people sharing? Because folks in those days routinely walked around with twelve baskets’ worth of fish fragments in their pockets? You fathers, if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? If your congregation turns up looking for miracles, why give them something tedious and mundane, and insinuate this is the best God can do?
There’s much more. Read it all.