When you think of preachers and sermons, legendary singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett may not come to mind first.
My husband and I love Lyle Lovett’s music and were thrilled to learn he and his Large Band would be kicking off their summer tour in Sacramento. We headed to the fabulous old Crest Theatre, anticipating a great show. We didn’t know there would be a sermon, too.
As Lovett walked to the center of the stage for the first time, a choir assembled at the back of the stage. Together, they sang a rousing rendition of “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord.” And then another song (“Church”) about long sermons and preachers who, eventually, will get as hungry as their congregants.
Lovett introduced the group as the choir from Sacramento’s Destiny Baptist Church. “Have any of you been to that church?” he asked us all.
There was one “yes” from the audience.
Lovett looked at us. He didn’t say anything for a moment. He looked at the choir. “Well, I wish we were going to be here Sunday. I’d follow them to church.” With just those few words, Lovett had delivered his sermon. The invitation. The desire for a community of worship. The reminder of inspirational holy places to spend Sunday mornings. The call to join voices together to make a joyful noise.
Lovett’s greatest gift is his musical talent, but a close second is his ability to impart a contagious joy. Or maybe I have that backwards.
I don’t know whether any of us who were at the Crest Theatre will find our way to Destiny Church’s doors. But I’m grateful for Lovett’s short, powerful sermon. For his reminder to get ourselves to church, to hear the gospel, to encounter God through worship and music, to experience joy. And isn’t that what all good preachers hope to provide? Lovett just has a different sort of pulpit.
Where and when have you experienced unexpected sermons?