Earlier we noted how the church is dying a slow death at the hands of pastors who are nice ... Indeed, one of us is tempted to think that there is not much wrong with the church that could not be cured by God calling about a hundred really insentitive, uncaring, and offensive people into the ministry! [Me: some might be tempted to say we are not short of those!]The church says to get to Jesus we have to go via John. So this advent season let us not avoid John and his hard words (if we think John is hard, it doesn't get any easier with Jesus!) and those of us who are called to preach and lead worship let us not airbrush John out of the way, but let him speak. To return to Stanley, the description of him by the magazine The Door in 1993 reminds me of John and why every second sunday of the church year we listen to him:
A better way is for us to be so confident that the gospel is true that we dare not say less to the people we are called to serve.
'Stanley is a loud, blustery, locomotive of passion for the Gospel; his eyes deep, intense, penetrating, full of sparkle and fire; his discourses passion-filled, spluttering with expletives, crashing into everyone else's opinion in the room, his thoughts thundering into your consciousness - sometimes against your will, often making you angry at his lack of ... well ... senstivity. And yet. And yet ... You realize this is man who is so in love with the Gospel - so in its grip - that he must say what he says or the rocks will say it for him. There is such clarity about Stanley Hauerwas. You have no doubts about what he thinks, about what he believes. And, there is no question in our minds that his clarity often leaves him alone, isolated from those whose ideas are of the mind and not of the heart. There are times when he spoke that a kind of holiness filled the room and you knew you were hearing the words of a prophet ...'