One of the critiques that I hear about my sermons is that they are not as practical as they could be. This is a fair critique. My preaching style is open ended. I like to take the congregation down a path on the journey of faith and invite them to consider how it might apply to the specifics of their own lives. I choose to do this, in part, because by the time I’ve preached at 7:30, 9, and 10:45, posted the sermon on the Saint Paul’s website and here on my blog, I’ve reached a very wide variety of people. To offer a practical suggestion as to how a 30 something parent of young children might apply the call to love one’s neighbor will mean that I’m missing out on a myriad of ways in which teenagers, single 30 somethings or retiring boomers might accomplish the same call.
Still, I find it to be a fair critique and from time to time, I try to offer very specific ways in which the reader or listener might be able to live out the call of God as heard through the exposition of scripture. This week, while I will probably preach the Sermon on the Mount’s bit about “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” I’m drawn to think about the practicality of faith for the 21st century Christian trying to live out the love your neighbor intent of this Sunday’s passage from Leviticus.
How do we take the very contextual call to leave the edges of our fields unharvested and bring it forward 2,500 – 5,000 years? What are the fruit of our vocations that we can leave open for the needy? For some, it means making sure that some sort of time is given to non-profit board work; a specific example being a CPA serving as treasurer of a non-profit board. For others, it means doing pro bono work in their field of expertise; for example, a doctor seeing patients in the local migrant farmer clinic. Still others might offer their hobby as a means to empower the stranger: the pilot who uses her time and expense to help patients get to appointments through Angel Flights.
In order for the life of faith to make any sense in the world, it has to be practically lived. It has to move from concept to reality. It has to shape the experiences of everyday. The Leviticus lesson this week invites us to think very specifically about how our faith might impact the most vulnerable of our neighbors. How do you live out the practicality of faith?