The first Sunday of Advent! A new church year. Coming off the craziness of Thanksgiving, it’s hard for me to be emotionally present in the start of the season. This week’s readings seem scattershot at first, but then I started to see some common threads that stand out to me. Most surprisingly, that our God is not like other gods. It’s almost like being in doctrine class. Anyway, I hope you might find something meaningful in my post for this week.
This was a funny week. I knew this week’s Gospel was the parable of the talents (being stewardship days and all), but I totally forgot it. As I worked through the first 2 readings, it was actually quite a surprise to hit the parable! Perhaps due to that, I was blessed to read the parable in a new way that I’d not quite connected before. But anyway, the mystery of faith. In the end, to have a concept of how faith really does make all things possible is revolutionary. To try and explain that sense seems so utterly complicated, though. In any case, I pray perhaps I did some little bit of justice to that end, this week…..
My friend, Pastor Jeff, invited me to share a sermon with his congregation at St. John’s, an ELCA congregation in a nearby town. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. So exciting, and progressively more nervewracking as the time drew near. The deed is done – I proclaimed last Sunday, October 30. As I was posting it here and re-reading it along the way, I had plenty of thoughts of “ugh!”. But after a bit, some thoughts of “oh, I’m glad I shared that.” Overall I have good feelings about the experience. Enough so that it seems I need to explore this aspect of ministry a bit more. I don’t know that I *want* to preach, but maybe I have some gifts that are useful for it. Ultimately, it’s difficult to gauge, because unless I manage to take a class in preaching some day, there really aren’t any opportunities to explore it.
I kept myself a little calmer on Sunday morning by reminding myself over and over that it’s not me. I’m not manufacturing anything here, nor performing. I’m only offering myself for God to use as He sees fit. I’m taking the leap of faith by walking into the unknown, and that’s really all I could have hoped for – to be used by God for service. And even after doing it, I really don’t have much idea what happened. I did get some compliments, but that could be for just about anything. What sort of means of grace was I that morning? I suppose I can’t ever really know to what extent, so again, I take it on faith that things worked unto good.
Some background – Sunday was October 30, 2011, and Reformation Sunday. St. John was celebrating their Consecration Sunday as a part of their stewardship drive. So, I was the guest preacher, speaking on stewardship, and at the end of the service, they were to fill out and turn in pledge cards. The readings for the day were Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 46, Romans 3:19-28, and John 8:31-36. Naturally I ended up focusing on the Old Testament reading. I need to come to terms with my Christological issues one of these days……
Anyway, here goes….