I was sick for much of last week so, I failed to blog that I preached and presided at St Elias Christian Church the Arabic church that also meets at Immanuel Lutheran. The congregation is about double that of Reconciler but the attendance last Sunday (June 15th) was about the size of Reconciler's except the church meets in the main sanctuary so it was a little odd, I did not preach from the lectern nor pulpit. As an Arabic church usually the entire service is in Arabic, they arranged things so that I said a few things in Arabic (no I don't know Arabic) and said what needed to be said by an ordained minister in English and the lay assisting Minister laid the rest of the Service in Arabic with my making the appropriate gestures. I preached in English. I was assured that most people while limited in their ability to speak in English can understand fairly well. Though since they sat very attentively without much noticeable facial expressions it was hard to tell whether my sermon was understood or not. At one point in my sermon I wondered if they were sitting there very politely listening not understanding a word I was saying and wondering how long they had to listen to me. That was not the case, and they were very grateful that I came and lead the service. and was willing to learn a very little bit of Arabic. One funny bit is that the congregation is very much smells and bells and so I was to beging the service censing the alter and cross, icon, gospel and people. I have never handled a thurible in my life. So, I had a crash course just before the service. After being shown I very tentatively began practice swinging. Immediately the assisting minister grabbed the thurible from my hand and said that will never do you will be the laughing stock of the congregation for months if you hold it like that and swinging. At which he copied my motions of gently holding the chance and swinging. You must be force full. he grabbed with his full fist and swung energetically. Like that he said. I was still awkward for me but I was saved a bit of liturgical humiliation and found beginning the service in that way very meditative. The assisting minster though I think might still be having a chuckle at my first attempts with the thurible.
This evening I preached at Reconciler. Matthew 10:24-39. The easiest bit to preach on was "he who finds his life will loose it, and he who looses his life for my sake shall find it." And the Old Testament was a lament and hope of vindication from Jeremiah. I ended up preaching on The Sacred Heart of Jesus. yes I know it seems like a non secquitor and yet.... Two things happened as I was preparing the sermon, one I ran across Henri Nouwen's book Heart Speaks to Heart, which is three prayers in meditation upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The other was that I saw A Streetcar Named Desire. I will post more on this later in the week. It was among my more meditative sermons and I read a great deal from the prayers in Nouwen's book, talked about the works of Tennessee Williams and wove it all together with all three scripture readings.It seemed to preach as surprising ass that might seem.