OK, occasionally I have asked for your advice on a preaching matter. Tomorrow I am preaching on the jealousy of the Jewish leaders towards Paul & Barnabas in Acts 13:42-52. Preaching on jealousy really is not a hard sermon to do, since there is such a wealth of material available.
Including non-Christian material.
I have two poems that I want to use in my sermon. The problem (?) is that one is by a Hindu teacher and the other is by a Sufi (a Muslim mystic).
I get lots of good feedback when I sprinkle poetry in my sermons. I enjoy it and while it might not work in some places, it seems to work here. I don’t do it every week or even every month.
I have always said that if something is true, then it is God’s truth. And, like Paul used the pagan poets of his day, I will use truths from other religions to help clarify the truth of scripture.
I have no real problem beginning with the poem by Sri Chinmoy, a Hindu teacher who died last year.
You are my mind’s purity-stealer,
You are my heart’s peace-intruder,
You are my life’s divinity-invader!
(although the list phrase "divinity-invader" could be mis-interpreted)
My uncomfortableness is that a poem by Hafiz of Shiraz (a Sufi Poet who lived from 1320-1389) sums up my sermon very nicely.
The problem with it is that it would be the last thing I say. And I really am uncomfortable with having the last words of a biblical sermon be words of affirmation by a Muslim mystic. While the content of my sermon is distinctly Christian, what Hafiz says sums up part of what I say about jealousy in the life of the believer,
What would you do? I could leave it out, but it just seems to fit. But if I include it, I don’t want anyone to think that I affirm what Islam teaches. It is just that non-Christians are able to see portions of God’s truth. And this is an example of it. I have thought about simply saying, "As one ancient poet has said…." But that seems to be the chicken’s way out (or re: a previous post…the Cowardly Lion’s way out).
So, tell me what you would do. I probably won’t get all the answers by tomorrow morning, but even if it is after that, let me know…it will inform me (and you, my readers, for the next time).
And I will let you know what I did!! (And how it went).