Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lenten preaching - being prepared

This Lent I decided to do a sermon series, using our new mission statement (which we developed during our Planning process for our new building. Before choosing WHERE to rebuild, or WHAT to build (focus on a nave, or more on Ch Ed, or a multipurpose hall for worship / parish hall space, etc.), we needed to take a good long look at who we are and whom we are called to serve.
Now as the time draws near for us to occupy our new building in our new location, I have felt God calling us to a time of intentional preparation. We need to be prayerfully, spiritually, theologically READY for our new life in our new home, in the heart of our community.
To that end I decided to take our mission statement and preach and teach on the components of it. I use it as the sermon theme for the day, then continue in a more detailed way, involving the parishioners of course, at adult Christian Ed time.
I think it's working pretty well. I can say it's been a challenge to me as preacher to try and use the lectionary texts of the day to make the mission statement-driven points. But I have really enjoyed that challenge.
Our mission statement is "A sacramental community, inviting and welcoming all to grow in Christ's love through fellowship and service". Lent 1 I did "Preparation", explaining why we needed to take on this work of becoming prepared. Lent 2 was "A Sacramental Community", looking at the importance of the sacraments to the people and history of St Pats, while also observing that it is only in community when the sacraments become the powerful things they are, and how that sacramental life extends outside of worship time.
Last week, Lent 3, was a tad more difficult - looking at "inviting and welcoming all to grow", with the gospel account of Jesus cleansing the temple intruding into my theme! Yet the "all to grow" piece fit with the lessons on the law and Jesus' insistence on the holiness of worship space and remembering the God we serve is not mammon. When we invite "all" to grow, we cannot forget who and what we are - this is not just a social club or civic group. To grow in Christ's love requires discipleship, parameters of our common life, and understanding our story. It's ok to ask those we invite and welcome to enter into our community with some expectations.
Lent 4 I will look at "growing in Christ's love", then Lent 5 is on fellowship and service.
It's been fun and difficult. As always, you can listen to (most) sermons on our website,

Saturday, March 07, 2009

View from a Chair

The surgery went fine. Not only was the achillies tendon ruptured completely, a few inches above the heel, but it also "fileted" off of the calf muscle. Surgeon had to repair both of course.
2-3 days post op pain was pretty severe, but now it hardly hurts at all. I am completely non-weight bearing, so on crutches, keeping it elevated, having to figure out creative ways to get in and out of the shower, etc. I may be allowed to start rehab in a week, but will still be non-weight bearing, maybe through Easter! Ugh.
My wife is an absolutely amazing help, so patient and also very creative in solving problems in my world. She is the best.
I do church in a wheel chair. Since I am NWB, I can't stand to preach or celebrate Eucharist. I roll myself in procession and roll around to the altar, etc. The perspective is so different. I have a new appreciation for physically challenged folks serving in church, even though my circumstances are quite trivial compared to most of them.
Preaching is especially strange. Sitting to preach - lends itself, I think, to much more of a teaching mode. I don't like not being able to see or be seen by everyone. I don't use a text, seems silly to shuffle papers in the chair. But so far it seems to be going ok.
I am very glad we were careful in our planning of the new building to make it very accessible - not for me, as this is quite temporary, but for all those who are challenged physically, our absence of steps, ample handicap parking, and wide doorways will be very helpful.
It's not the Lenten journey I expected, but it certainly is one that forces me into times of reflection and prayer. I cannot drive and spend most days in a chair doing emails, phone calls, and reading, writing sermons, etc. Yes, i will be thrilled when I can walk again, until then I am grateful for an outpouring of support and prayer, and for my wonderful family that cares so well for me.