The Response to My Sermon This Week

I woke up Sunday morning to the news of another shooting. My social media timeline was filled with a variety of commentaries about the horrific murders in El Paso and Dayton. A wave of emotions flooded over me and I felt it all. Then I remembered that I had a sermon to preach that morning.

I began a conversation with Jesus asking a simple question: what am I supposed to say? I didn’t land at an easy answer to this question, even when I knew it was time to go on stage. I took a step forward at our 8:30am service and began to feel my way through it. Then I sat through our 10am service and I could feel more coming.

Toward the end of the message, I felt an invitation to let go and say what God was laying on my heart. I quickly lost control of my emotions and could feel my voice begin to quiver. I’m not a crier, so to cry in front of hundreds of people feels very raw to me.

When I walked off stage after this I wondered what kind of response I’d get. To say I felt vulnerable would be an understatement. To be honest, I feared what the next few hours and days would bring. This wasn’t a calculated decision or a prewritten script. It was the outpouring of my conversation with Jesus and it surprised even me. But today I’m beyond grateful to share that it’s been the exact opposite of what I feared. My wife Michelle summed it up well on her Instagram:

I was a bit nervous today… whenever Jeremy shares something this heartfelt and raw and sadly controversial I notice I gear up mentally and emotionally. Not because I disagree with his heart or him sharing, but because I have seen the comments and emails back to him. They can be brutal. But today wasn’t like that… I haven’t seen any nasty comments or emails. And not to say they won’t come, but just grateful that there is a group of us out there that can have this conversation within the church walls and on this platform with kindness. It gives me hope that we may all be ready for this conversation.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support from not only our church community, but from people all over the country. It’s a reminder to me that even when it’s scary to name systemic sins like white supremacy, there is power in calling it out and trusting Jesus to lead us forward to something different. And as Michelle pointed out, it seems that this is a conversation people are ready to have.

If you’d like to join this conversation and be encouraged by what is emerging in the midst of the ugliness, I’d encourage you to read through these threads. You can’t see the emails and texts I’m getting, but you can see the responses on Facebook and Instagram.

Also, in case you were wondering the clip is the ending of my weekend message on Jeremiah 29:11. Hopefully the whole thing is worth watching, especially since I came up with one of my funniest jokes on the fly at the 16:47 mark. You can watch the entire message here:

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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