Pastor's Corner February 2011
Recap and preview.
During the first few months I was here at St. Andrew UMC I asked a few questions about how we do things, and what we want to be doing. You all told me about all kinds of things, from money to maintenance, worship to outreach and beyond. We have worked on all of these, and are continuing to do so, and I think I have done a pretty good job of recounting the stories of what we have done with money, maintenance and outreach through the telling of “One More”, as told in the January Voice newsletter, and in more complete detail in the Pastor’s report for Charge Conference 2010. However, we set some very particular goals for what we wanted to be doing in worship. I heard from you some of the areas of interest, and wrote them down. I want to give you a bit of a recap of what we have already covered, and what the plan is to cover the other topics and scriptures you asked to learn more about in the years ahead of when we did that survey during worship.
After talking with our youth and boiling down the requirements for a “church” to exist to three simple things - Something to worship, worshipers, and the act of worship itself. I think that is the core of what we want to do. We want to be worshipers worshiping the One to be worshiped, the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are definitely aided in the process by the fact that God exists, and is longing for us to gather and worship together. We gather in many different forms and locations throughout any given week, but it is the Sunday morning gathering, where we have tried to take what you all presented as areas of interest, form worship themes around them, and develop our acts of devotion accordingly, in music, prayers, discernment (by way of meditative thoughts and the sermons) and service (we move from the time of worship into more active service in the week ahead, as well as the service we provide as ushers, musicians, worship leaders, and technicians).
We began each of the last two years with celebrations of Epiphany (the time when we remember the coming of the Magi to the manger), and a baptismal remembrance service, where we take the water to ourselves and accept our calling to ministry. 2012 will follow in this same pattern. 2010 then started at the beginning as we covered Genesis, with particular focus on the creation stories, Abram (Abraham), and Joseph (and his amazing coat). With Easter arriving early last year on the first Sunday in April we covered traditional texts for Palm Sunday and Easter, and followed that up with a series on Death and Resurrection, in the healings of Jesus and the Disciples, and a look back at the death of David and Bathsheba’s firstborn child. We recalled the birth of the church with Pentecost, and looked at the deeper meaning of what it means when we say we worship a Triune God, on Trinity Sunday. The Summer months took us back into more traditional Lectionary texts, and brought out some of our brightest stars to shine as guest preachers, hearing from David Seibert, Chris Odell, and Dave Goss. To be fair, we also heard from Brad Jones and Scott Davis during the year, and Dave Goss helped lead us into the journey’s of Paul, after an introductory sermon, Dave came to share about the power of conversion. In October, we examined the power of the Exodus story, leading to Christ the King Sunday, and into Advent.
All of that covers where we began in 2010 to the current time. We are currently looking at the Psalms and discerning some of the many facets of what it is we can learn from the Psalms in 2011. Following Ash Wednesday we will delve into the Spiritual Gifts, and Spiritual Gifts discernment. As the year quickly speeds away we enter into Holy Week, celebrating Passion Sunday, and Easter, followed by a series on the Book of Judges, which seems appropriate after we have just discovered our spiritual strengths to find out how the spiritual strengths of the Judges were also those things that led to their demise, and how to care for our gifts to not fall into that same trap. We will look at the development and use of Spiritual gifts during this time, and realize we are at the doorstep of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and into a Summer tumble through some of the larger characters of the Old Testament, Ruth, Esther, and David. The plan for the Fall is to see how Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. Before we enter into the wonder of Christ the King, Advent, Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord, we will take one last look back at the Old Testament for a story request from the Prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel with Elijah.
2012 will offer up a look at Leviticus, and several of the Creation Stories of scripture, including Genesis and John, with Ash Wednesday stashed in between. Palm/Passion Sunday leads us right into Easter, and what appears to be a “Pastor’s Discretion” segment in the preaching schedule, just before Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. The Summer will find us perusing the many parables of Jesus, before we look at the Spiritual Disciplines (for those who like to get a jump start on things, you may want to pick a copy of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline to read before we hit the Fall of 2012). We then conclude the Calendar year with Christ the King, and Advent.
All of this is to alert you to where we have been, what we have ahead, and the reminder of the covenant we share, to develop our discipleship through the learning and understanding of scripture. I realize that for some my style of preaching is a little different. I am not one who is prone to giving answers, but rather raising questions. My hope is that you will leave with more questions than you came in with on a Sunday morning, and that that energy to discover and challenge those questions will spur you into action for Christ and the Gospel. In that way, many of my sermons feel like they are left right at the part where I “just get going”. My desire is to leave that sense of energy and unfulfilled promise as part of your entry into a new week.