Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coming Soon, To A Church Near You!

A couple of months ago, my pastor sent me an e-mail and made a request that knocked my socks off. I read it and then sat and stared at the e-mail for an hour with my jaw on the ground. He was asking me to give a sermon at church. From time to time, pastors need a vacation. Whether it be to attend a seminar or go on vacation… time away from the church is a good thing. I certainly need time away from my job and my job isn’t anywhere near as demanding as his! I’ve been part of my church for about 6 years. In that time, when Pastor Rusty is away, we have a substitute pastor. Someone from another church or someone who travels from church to church to fill in as needed. Always Pastor So-and-so. Growing up, I have memories of my very serious and staid congregation and church service each week… and when our pastor was away, there were no subs. One of the church Elders would very somberly bring a tape recorder to the pulpit and press play and then adjust the microphone so that a previously recorded sermon from our pastor could be heard. Over the past few months, there have been a couple of people in our congregation that have given the sermon. And I honestly thought nothing of it. Wilbur is our Lay Leader so it made sense to me that he would stand in front of the church and speak. Jeremy first did a sermon with Pastor Rusty and has since given sermons to fill in for Rusty- so that made sense, too. But… me? Give a sermon? Deliver the weekly message to the congregation? Me? Really? While I was able to accept it as common practice for those who had grown up in the United Methodist faith… I hadn’t, so this was really weird for me. While I was able to embrace members of my church family getting up and doing exactly what I was being asked to do… something about it wasn’t… instantly right for me. I hesitated. I prayed and thought and wondered and turned to friends whose faith and spirituality I really admire. And then I said a scary, scary thing. Yes. I am not a theologian. I don’t have a bunch of memorized Bible verses tucked away that I can spout off for any occasion. I don’t know the history of Jesus’ time or the culture of that era. I haven’t done studies on the geography of Bethlehem. I haven’t translated any Bible text or sought out the lost chapters of the Bible. I’m just a woman who really loves God. Was that going to be enough? Yes. I thought about what my sermon topic should be for a couple of weeks. I had some ideas but they either didn’t really come together or Pastor Rusty would burst my bubble by preaching on that very topic that Sunday. Seriously- I had a great idea on how the church is similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and then Pastor Rusty gave a sermon that was all about farming and such and I just… well. Anyway. That wasn’t the message for me to give, apparently. I prayed and thought. And finally figured something out. I’m not a preacher. I write. I blog. I share my thoughts and experiences through words and photographs. So I needed to stick with what I knew and just sit down and write. So I did. I wrote my sermon from the heart and sent it off to Pastor Rusty to review and provide insight. I met with him… nervous that he would tell me that he had made a huge mistake and that he was just going to go back and ask Wilbur or Jeremy to fill in after all. Instead, he said something far more frightening… that he loved it. That it was real and honest and very good. He had some pointers to kind of fill in some gaps. And I’ve gone back and filled in a few more that I found. But my sermon is written. I’m prepared for the Children’s Sermon that day, too. I’ll also be leading the Offertory and Prayer and giving the closing Benediction. All were options that I didn’t have to do- but I feel like one of Pastor Rusty’s greatest gifts is how he ties the message together in all aspects of worship. This Sunday, I’m going to preach. I’m going to share some of my story and share a message. I’m nervous. I’m confident. I’m eager. I’m scared. I’m not sure I’m entirely ready and I don’t think I can be entirely ready until it’s all over. Just one request… pray for me, ok? Photobucket

17 comments:

Nancy said...

My family can't wait. Delainey is bummed that there is no choir, but she is excited to see you up front. You will continue to be in my prayers. Hugs to you!

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Oh, Good Luck, Girl and sending prayers... I had to participate in the service (not give the sermon, just read something pre-pritned) one time and I almost fell over with nervousness! Luckily, my church has several associate pastors. I'm sure you'll "knock there socks off" in return!

I Poured My Heart Out today as well!
http://www.singlemominthesouth.com/2010/05/pour-your-heart-out-friendships.html

Katina said...

I will most def pray for you sista! God will stretch you won't he? He is gonna use you to do big things! Just do it for HIM and give HIM all the glory!

Shell said...

Oh, that's very exciting! Prayers being said!

Thanks for linking up!

Flartus said...

You'll do fine. There's a reason you were picked from the crowd. Heck, I even imagine you'll have fun, when it all comes down to it. Kind of like running--you love it now!

So...will you post it here later? Or at least a summary?

God will be with you.

Momza said...

Liz,
I'm really excited for you! Being able to stand and share your testimony of faith increases your own faith!
As a LDS, we are used to this practice--that is our schedule every Sunday! We are all asked to speak in CHurch at one time or other--even teenagers. We learn so much from one another, about one another--it binds us closer.
I think your congregation is in for a real treat this Sunday!
Wish I was there! blessings!

Katherine said...

That's amazing. Terrifying, but amazing. what a great opportunity to get to share your own thought with so many people.

C. Beth said...

That is so exciting!!! Yes, I will pray. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Heather said...

How very very BRAVE of you. I would love to read the sermon somtime.

Kittem said...

Liz,
I was weeping as I read this. I don't know why, but something in what you wrote really touched me.
You will do a great job.

We live in a Zoo! said...

Lol! I am a Latter day Saint (Mormon), each Sunday several people are asked to speak during sacrament meeting. (fortunately the hour is split between several people and not just loaded onto one) I think it is funny because your reaction to being asked to give a sermon is the exact same reaction that I have, and many of the people that are LDS have, when asked to speak.
I am certain you will do a magnificent job, I hope you will share what you say here on your blog.

Beth said...

You will have all kids of prayer cover girl! I can't even imagine! I'd be quaking in my boots! Well ... in my crocs ... I rarely wear boots!

BTW ... I have seen your name all over blogdom but somehow we never crossed paths. I'm following you now because we have oodles of the same bloggy buddies! :)

Life with Kaishon said...

Liz! You are going to do such a wonderful job! I can't wait to hear about it. I will definitely pray for you! What a blessing. I know it will be an encouragement to many others!

Amy said...

I've never given a sermon, but I have given a witness to a group of women on retreat. I think that if what you say comes from your heart -- as I know it will -- it will touch the hearts of so many. You will definitely be in my prayers.

Barnmaven said...

You got it, mama! God is using you and you're open for Him to do it, what a blessing for your church that is going to be!

mimbles said...

I'm an atheist now, but I grew up in a church (the Uniting Church in Australia) where congregation members gave sermons on occasion and the value of lay people's contributions was recognised and celebrated - one of the many great things about the Uniting Church.

I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job, wishing you all the best on the day!

Tracy said...

How scary! How beautiful! and how wonderful. What amazing experience to share your heart with so many people. Good luck and God bless you.