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?