Recently, I have been trying to break down the “wall of reverence” and asking people to loosen up.  Then something like this comes along that makes me recoil and say, “I’m not so sure of that.”  I love NASCAR and infantile humor but even this goes a bit too far.  In a pre-race tradition, Pastor Joe Nelms was invited to pray the invocation.  While often these prayers or canned and frankly pedestrian this prayer plays to the crowd and I think misses the mark. 

The invocation at races is usually intended to be a prayer of thanksgiving and for safety.  Pastor Nelms, in what would in any other situation make me laugh, instead uses the prayer as a standup comedy hour.  Yes, humor is good.  Yes, many Pastors take themselves way too serious but they also have a job to do.  One job is to pray for the gathered community. 

In this case it was to pray for the NASCAR drivers, crews, workers and fans.  I take corporate prayer as one of the most honorific aspects of my vocation.  To be entrusted with the unified hearts and minds, in this case millions at the track and at home, is a sacred calling.  I try to make sure my prayers don’t come off “holier than thou.”  I believe that our prayers are conversations with God and I have been known to speak in less than proper language in personal prayer.  Nonetheless, I think Pastor Nelms missed an opportunity.

This post may come across as judgmental and in fact it is in many ways.  Yet, I also appreciate the fact that while he misses the mark Pastor Nelms did try to break down the wall of reverence.  I guess what he has shown me is that when we begin to work to loosen up we need to make sure that we continue to maintain our focus and purpose.  I’m also glad that he has started the ball rolling on the subject of “smokin hot preacher wives.” (See humor is still OK)