I remember the first time I ever preached. I was in my youth group at Beulah Presbyterian Church, and for a youth group one night a collection of us were asked to give the message. I think I had maybe ten minutes or so to preach, but preaching it was. And my goodness, it was exhilarating! Something about all the prep work that happened ahead of time, the build up, the delivery, it was magnificent!

There was one thing that I found slightly disconcerting though. The entire way through my message there was a group of girls in the front of the room who were giggling to each other the whole time I was up there. There were, in my mind, a few explanations for this. In classic J-Freyer sermon fashion, I opened with a joke, which I only assumed was SO funny that they laughed the whole way through my message, blown over by the sheer hilarity of my opening remarks. Or, you know, high school girls just giggle a lot, and my primitive teenage male mind couldn’t sort out what was going on. Either way, I wrote it off, because I was preaching, and I loved it. That is until I walked off the stage, and one of our volunteers said “Great job! But your fly was down the whole time.”

It is for this reason that I do a fly check every time I step up to preach here at Westminster. Such was the embarrassment that went with that developmental moment in my life, I hope that something like that never happens again. I am, by and large, a horribly awkward person, who does horribly awkward things, and frequently find myself in situations like this first sermon, where people are laughing at me and I don’t know why. Eventually you learn to drown it out, but the laughter still stings.

I wonder though if stories like this are part of the reason we Presbyterians have developed a reputation for fearing sharing our faith. What if we say something stupid? What if people reject us? What if we offend someone? What if our fly is down? And so we avoid the whole proposition. Better to sit back and let our lives do the talking, or at least that’s what we say. We hope that somehow, just by watching us, people will see Jesus at work and want in on it. While that’s a powerful statement, A) it requires a life that is radically different from those around us, and 2) I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen it effectively work without any kind of proclamation. Eventually, at some point, we have to give voice to what we believe if we ever want someone to revel in the good grace God gives us.

And ultimately, this is how I got over the shame and embarrassment of a fly-down experience to preach and proclaim the gospel as frequently as I do: God’s gift of grace is so good that I actually can’t help myself. If I view myself as a salesman, trying to convince people I’m right in the face of their wrongness, then obviously I have a lot to be scared of. If on the other hand, I’m just proclaiming the love that means as much as it does in my life, then I have all the courage and excitement I need to tell my story, which as it turns out it ultimately God’s story. Courage comes not from having no fear of sharing our story. I don’t know that I’d ever get there. But courage comes instead from the goodness of the story itself. God’s love and grace are so good that I can’t help but share it.

So share your story. Trust me, it’s a good one. You’ve got plenty of courage in telling the story of God, even if your fly is down.

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