Monday, May 25, 2009

Hit and Run Preaching?

The morning after doing supply preaching I often wonder whether I've been like a hit and run driver leaving the scene of the accident. Would I preach a different sermon if I thought I would be seeing those people next week? Of course I would. Or would I? The irony is those times I have been invited back and then, there I am, at the scene, and it's a different collision than the last time.

Yesterday in my boldness I suggested that Peter's excerpts in Acts 1: 20 from the vengeance Psalms 69 and 109 weren't really the witness that Jesus had just commanded them to have. While blotting someone out after betrayal is an all too human reaction, perhaps it's not the abundance of the heart that we are called to have. I quoted from Luke 6 about fruits of good and evil. I used Psalm 1 as my first reading about trees bearing fruit in their season. I closed with Galatians 5, fruit of the Spirit. Today I'm going to work in my garden after all of those fruit and tree references.

The best comment after the sermon was "I liked your sermon and you're right about the betrayal and the way people talk—too bad that the people who needed to hear that weren't here." Hm...

Then the deacon who had invited me said that she would call me again. Well, we have to trust the Spirit's leading on what happens then.

The next best comment, which I heard from at least two people, was that I was the first guest minister they've had who can really sing. While I am a singer and often a vocal soloist at my home church, I have to wonder at what that statement says about my colleagues in the pulpit. I am a worship leader, even as a guest preacher, so I put together the entire service when I am preparing, not just a sermon. Although the deacon said I could just give the scripture and sermon title to the secretary and let someone else pick the hymns, I can imagine that might not be the best way to have hymns that I know and can lead, and I wonder if that's what my colleagues did. I picked the hymns for the service, but I did consult with the secretary about whether the congregation would know those hymns.

So, those of you in the greater Boston area, or even in eastern Massachusetts, RI, or southern NH who need summer supply, feel free to contact me. Unless you tell me that your congregation needs it, I won't preach on betrayal, but I will lead worship and preach as the Spirit leads.

For those folks with interest in such things, I can provide a password-protected link to the final paper that resulted from my directed study, excerpts of which have appeared in postings on this blog in the past five months:
The state of welcome, inclusion, affirmation and placement
of women and LGBT people as clergy,
focusing on the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts
Just let me know your name and email via a comment (which I won't post here). It's 66 pages, with a fair number of charts, so rather too large a file for emailing, so I've put it on a website and then I'll send you the link. At this moment I want to manage the distribution of this paper (I'm still in the ordination process, you know), so I would appreciate some description of your interest and who you are. :-)

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