Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 5, 2012 Bad Sermons

I am thinking back on this summer sermon series which I rank as one of the best in my career.

But, while I think it is the best, I also reflect that I have preached some of the worst sermons I have preached in a long time.  In fact most of them have been uncomfortable to do and I haven't felt quite in stride.  They have been longer than I could control.  I find myself getting to places where I am not sure what I am doing.  I have scrapped large parts of what I have planned (which is difficult with the overhead presentations).

The reason, as I reflect on it, is that the point isn't the sermons.  What has made the summer so amazing for me is the homework. The homework is life-changing.  The homework is also why I have preached so oddly. Because it is different than usual.  The focus of the sermon is different.  The pacing and process is different. The target and style is different -- all because of the homework.

I see so clearly that it doesn't really matter what I say.  It is what people do during the week that is important.  This emphasizes something Paul and I have been bumping into for months.  We are trapped practically every week.  "Oops, I'm not doing that.".  It started in the first week.  We ranted about businesses that didn't put their office hours on the doors and then noticed we didn't have them either.  It started at the beginning with neighbors living around us that we didn't know or hadn't seen or talked to in ages.

The obvious and important thing is what we do between Sundays.  We know that but we slip into easy patterns.  My head knows that the important work of the Spirit is not on Sunday but in the rest of the week as we live.  The point isn't learning about God, but living a Godly life.  It isn't about talking about God, but following.  It certainly isn't in griping about how our kids never call, but in calling our kids.  It isn't about talking about being loving, but actually loving.  Not in being friendly but in making friends and being a friend.

We finish on Sunday the 16th at Rohner Park.  But, if I am listening to myself then it is what I do, what we do, in the weeks and months after this summer that is really the point.

Did the summer series change you?

August 27, 2012 Little Delights

The last couple of weeks, our child care worker, Britney, has brought one of her small charges to church.  The child absolutely loves the music at the beginning of the service.  So much, in fact, that all 22 inches of her stands on wobbly feet and dances in the center aisle right in front of Velma while she is leading singing.  What we see is Velma, who has lived through about three quarters of a century, facing the congregation and a little child who hardly comes up to the top of the arm rest of the pew swaying and dancing together while we sing "Here I Am, Lord" or "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling".

As we talk and reflect on friendliness, I am struck by this miracle.  As long as I have been here, Velma has wanted nothing more than to dance in church.  And now she has a companion.  So, Velma beams all through the hymn sing.  Her energy is up and the hymn sing is better for it.  We all benefit from this.  And then Velma talks with delight about her little partner for days.  That few moments is enough to fill her week with joy.  God enters the building and Velma's spirit is filled by a little bundle of mischief -- an angel is disguise.

It is such a simple thing to join in that an 18 month old child knows how to do it.  That is our parable.  Friendliness is about joining the dance of life that is going on all around us.  For those who have learned to do it, the world is filled with friends.  For those who haven't, ? -- Well????