Monday, May 26, 2008

More on Preaching(Perhaps to be known in the Future as Priestly Goth Preaching Chronicles)

It was my turn to preach at Reconciler this past Sunday. No manuscript to post this time. Well I wrote a manuscript, then found what I had written wanting, attempted to re-work it Saturday and Sunday morning. As It got around noon Sunday I began to realize that the manuscript was not editable into the form I needed to preach. so, I printed off the lectionary passages and took the manuscript into the pulpit and decided to see what happened. What happened was that I reworked the introduction I had written in the pulpit and then preached a sermon that had little to do with the manuscript I wrote. I was shuffling papers so it probably looked like I was working from a manuscript or notes, but basically I was just looking at the Scriptures texts and creating the sermon on the fly. Mission Friend preachers were said to have done this. According to the story passed down the first president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Bjork, apparently preached his first sermon ad hoc. At the time there was no pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church he attended, and as a lay leader he would read sermons printed in the Lutheran Pietist magazine Pietistin. One Sunday the janitor of the church did not put the latest copy of the Pietistin in the pulpit and Bjork and preached sermon on the spot. He then was never allowed to read a sermon from the magazine again.

My sermon wasn't great but I feel it was a good passable sermon. It did though stimulate much comment and dialog in our meditation/discussion period after the sermon. In creating the sermon on the fly I did revert to my meandering style of preaching which looses some people, generally leaves people wondering about the point of my sermons. So, in my more prepared sermons either with notes or manuscript I have been giving people a bit of a map of the terrain I will cover in my sermon and then in conclusion review that terrain. Given that I didn't quite now the way we would go as I started my sermon I wasn't able to do that on the fly as well as I do with more prepared sermons. Though I wonder if I could learn to in the moment see where a sermon might go give people a sense of where we are going and then be aware enough to recap where we have been.

In terms of content I feel like I am at the edge of my own theology, which means beyond the edge of most of the members of Reconciler. I feel drawn this Ordinary time to preach about the way and being of the faith. In relation to this particular sermon I attempted to show that Jesus' words about not worrying and seeking first the Kingdom of God, did not have to do with some principle that everything will work out in the end, but on being drawn into the communion of God, and the trust that comes from experiencing that being in communion. Thus to be able to not worry is founded upon understanding and experiencing God, not as a solitary individual being but one whose being is a community of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, background idea of the sermon is that the doctrines and dogmas of Christianity are not abstract theology but tell us the way of being in communion with God. They do not reveal principles on how to live but are the way of life itself. While I believe this I am finding that such a perspective seems to be not only on the edge of my own faith and upbringing but on the edge of most theological and pastoral positions I am currently encountering in my Protestant contexts. So, i found finding the words and making the connections with a familiar saying of Jesus difficult in preaching such a thought.