Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Priestly Goth Preaching Chronicles IX

I haven't written anything about pastoring, preaching or the church in awhile. Preaching has been interesting lately, for some reason I have had manuscripts written that I then outline as opposed to just notes as it has mostly been for several months.
During Lent I have been preaching on faith. I went from preaching a series on Discipleship using portions of David Augsburger's Book Dissident Discipleship as springboard for each sermon. That series on Discipleship I planned. This series on faith just showed up as I prepared the sermon for the first Sunday in Lent and said this is what you are preaching on for Lent. Four weeks on explorations of the nature of faith, (I have posted three of the 4 sermons, you can find them here, here and here). Yes I know Lent is longer than 4 weeks but I am not preaching this Sunday, Kate and I are off to St Gregory's Abbey for a few days today to Sunday, so I am not preaching this Sunday and I might give a short meditation on Holy Week on Palm Sunday but that service is so full that a sermon seems a little too much. I am not preaching again until the Join Good Friday service with Immanuel, St Elias and the Community of St Francis.

The series on Discipleship came to me as a surprise. Since I follow the lectionary I don't think in terms of series and a series of sermons makes me think of a form of Christianity I have left behind and never was completely immersed in. However, the lectionary texts after Epiphany, where Reconciler is at as a congregation and some of the questions that had been brought up at various council meetings last year all came together and so there was a series.

The Lenten series is different, for the first time in a while I am preaching as much to myself as to the congregation. For clarity, it is not that as I prepare a sermon I don't find a word for myself, but usually (that is in the past four years preaching at Reconciler up till now) I have had to first hear what the texts were saying to me and get beyond that. I rarely in the past four years could preach on a word that I heard for myself from the texts. Writing this now that seems a little odd perhaps. However, as I entered the pastorate I realized that I had to get out of the way especially in preaching, my issues, my opinions, my interpretations didn't matter. I needed to hear what these particular texts might be saying to those who gathered together as Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler. In Lent this has changed somewhat, as I find that I am working out a theology with the congregation as I preach. I am not even certain that the manuscripts I have posted reflect the full development since, as I have said elsewhere on this blog, even when I take a manuscript into the pulpit I do not read it, its there to jog my memory when I need it.

Faith is a tricky thing to preach about and get at I am finding at least right now. I don't know if I have a definition. However, it isn't that I am at a loss as to what faith is in my life and in the life of my congregation. It just seems that attempting to tackle faith directly and say this is it, faith is evading that sort of certainty. Rather, I think this is cultivating a greater sense (in me at least) of what the disposition of faith is, rather than something I can directly tell you about.

Well I am off to the Monastery in just a little bit. I plan to post something on my return.