Staff Blogger: Josh Hilgenberg, Advancement/Communications Intern
Faith for Living Hour is a staple for Lakeside’s religious life programming. For the most part, the service is typical, but what makes it unique from others is the person behind the podium – on June 20, Bishop Emeritus Pastor Mark Hanson preached to the congregation on the topic of the Holy Spirit.
He walked up to the podium and looked around Hoover Auditorium. Lakesiders were dotted around the auditorium like a splatter painting. Before he began, he asked the teenagers in the front row to be sheep dogs and herd his flock into the front middle section. It was clear Bishop Hanson felt at home.
The Bishop Emeritus then began his sermon in a way that made me feel like I was back in a college classroom.
“What do you come to worship expecting?” he asked. “Turn to a neighbor and share.” He then said something to the effect of “I’ll be watching.”
Amongst the low rustle of shirts rubbing against chairs and voices murmuring, I heard words like: “inspiration” and joy.”
Once the voices simmered, Bishop Hanson took control again, asking for the congregation’s answers. He was shocked when none had to do with the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, pointing out that we must have low expectations compared to how it appears in the Bible.
His next question was, “What’s the Spirit doing in your congregation that makes people want to come?” We shared answers again, shifting in our seats.
Asking for our input again, many answers dealt with the idea that a congregation felt like a family, which made it pleasant for newcomers to join.
Bishop Hanson again refuted our unanimous answer, pointing out that families are difficult to enter as a stranger. They work for us because we found our place, but for others, it may seem impossible to work their way into the already tight bonds.
His final question was the most provocative, “When was the last time you were called crazy because of how welcoming you are? Because of how much you promote your faith?”
Hanson then shepherded the congregation to the revelation that it takes a bit of craziness to be the voice of the Holy Spirit. The faithful should not concern themselves with the institution; they should concern themselves with the principles. Prioritize making outsiders feel welcome. Include the excluded. Most of all, “Speak the truth of our brokenness.”
Faith for Living Hour occurs at 9:15 a.m. Monday-Thursday in Orchestra Hall, and all are welcome to participate and hear the Preacher of the Week.