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Asking the Clergy: How do you bring your passions to the pulpit?

Samantha Tetro, Samantha's Lil Bit of Heaven Ministries,

Samantha Tetro, Samantha's Lil Bit of Heaven Ministries, East Northport Credit: Judy Donnenfeld

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, earned international praise for his passionate preaching on the power of love last month at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. However Curry’s sermon diverged from royal weddings past, such impassioned messages are regularly found in houses of worship across Long Island. This week’s clergy discuss how their own enthusiasms inspire their messages.

Samantha Tetro

Samantha’s Li’l Bit of Heaven Ministries, East Northport

It’s easy to ignite passion in the listener when that passion is already inside you. When God’s word and the Holy Spirit abide in your heart, it is like a match to a flame. The power of God’s word can bring peace, joy, wisdom, healing, freedom and, most importantly, salvation. Personally, I share commentary after a sermon or teaching. I like to challenge listeners to ponder what they just heard from the previous speaker. I also share some of my own experiences as evidence of God’s faithfulness to his word (Revelations 12:11). I look to encourage them to not just hear the Word of God, but to take action and apply it to their own lives (James 1:22). As they experience the blessings of their obedience, it’s sure to birth passion in them as well.

It’s exciting for me to step away from an actual physical platform and look for opportunities to provide what I’d call a “pulpit to go.” It’s a joy to inspire “God moments” with people on a one-to-one basis. In offering compassion, prayer and a listening ear, one can help change the life of another. It’s all about relationship. It’s in that relationship that one can decipher the real deal from the counterfeit. And it’s in the “real deal” that one can discover God’s greatest passion — his love for them!

Rabbi Anchelle Perl

Director, Chabad of Mineola

First you need passions. These are mine: To see the Divine Providence in every area of one’s life. To always be inspired with a sense of tranquility and joy that God always runs the show. To always balance faith and trust in God.

Faith in God means that all that has happened in the past is for the good, even if we don’t see it yet. To trust in God means that, from now on, the Almighty will surely deliver blessings in an open, pleasing and revealed manner, both physically and spiritually. To appreciate that every minute alive is God’s way of saying, “I trust in you.”

I am impassioned that every human is created in the image of God. And as such, each of us is on this Earth with a mission to create a hospitable abode for the Creator. Each one of us may live for decades for the sole purpose of assisting that one person who comes into our life, be it materially or spiritually.

So, each time at the pulpit, my key passions must vibrate and pulsate through whatever the subject. Invariably if any one my passions is missing, I can’t deliver. With these passions, they become words from my heart and, hopefully with God’s help, I pray they enter the heart of the listener. My ultimate litmus of a successful passion-inspired message is if it leaves me, and the people around me, better and holier human beings.

Acarya Abhiramananda Avadhuta

Hindu priest, Ananda Marga, a global spiritualand social service organization, Flushing, Queens

I am passionate about dharma, the search for truth, love and compassion. Dharma is a source of inspiration for all human beings. But my passion for dharma goes beyond delivering sermons. I attempt to provide an example by my own conduct. I transmit my passion for dharma not only by doing good work for society, but by encouraging others to do good works. Hinduism was established by the great yogi, Lord Shiva, 7,000 years ago. It has a universal message, which is not difficult to understand: that we must have a deep love for all creation and be able to put that love into practice in the form of service and sacrifice. Only talking about the holy scripture is not sufficient. Just chanting the name of the Lord is meaningless unless we do something to help people who are starving or suffering due to poverty, injustice and indifference. Nobody is inferior and nobody is superior; we are all the children of the same Cosmic Father and Mother. We cannot ignore the suffering of those who are discriminated against.

It’s my passion to voice forcefully my feelings about duty and social responsibility. And then to be passionate about following through by fighting for, and encouraging others to fight for, social justice through proper education and compassionate care for all.

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