This is a quote from a collection of sermons, Preaching With Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present, which my coworker Nina mentioned to me a couple months ago. I love love love this anthology. In this brief portion, Pastor Moss, whom I’m thrilled to say I met in Oxford a few years ago, is talking about the role of the preacher as a prophetic voice. The sermon is entitled “A Prophetic Witness In An Anti-Prophetic Age,” reflects on Isaiah 61:1, and was delivered in February 2004. Here are three paragraphs:
…What a sermon! Have you ever preached a sermon shorter than your text? And then they engaged in a brief dialogue. I think it was after the sermon. And he started talking about some things. And before the dialogue was over, we would call it a fellowship, he almost got killed just talking about the sermon.
How often have our lives, as representatives of the gospel of Jesus Christ, been threatened for having dialogue about the sermon we had just delivered? We are not in particular danger because we have too often adjusted to this anti-prophetic age. There is no danger in the sermons we preach, no challenge, and no threat to anybody in particular.
But Jesus almost got killed on his first public sermon–perhaps, his first public sermon. And let me say, we ought to remember that the community, the world does not like prophets, and neither does the church. The world does not like prophets. Prophets disturb us. They shake us out of our dogmatic slumber. So we prefer comfort to commitment. The world does not like prophets. Prophets override our creeds and our half-truths. Prophets expose our injustices and our contradictions and put to shame our mediocrity. The world does not like prophets and the church often refuses to celebrate them.