I’ve spent a lot of the past week curled up under a blanket, and I’ve tried to be attentive to daily blog posts while staying warm. I’ve pulled out one from each day that might speak to us at the beginning of a new year of ministry.
Do you wonder all the time, as I do, what church is really all about, especially when it seems less than it might be? What it is that people find in practices which at first glance seem inadequate at best and downright harmful at worst? On Wednesday, Mihee wrote a post in A Deeper Story (which seems to be a blog populated by a variety of storytellers) about Drive-Thru Church and How It’s Personal. At first skeptical, she began to wonder: is it possible to find something saving as well as convenient and accessible as one whips through worship?
You may have seen this post on Thursday, when Martha mentioned it on Facebook, but I want to highlight it again in case you missed it. Preaching is another matter about which I wonder all the time. I find, with three years of weekly sermons behind me, that I am increasingly dissatisfied with my preaching. My congregation seems to be grateful, but I feel as if I am missing the mark, and so I am pondering Laurie’s admonition in Dirty, Sexy Ministry to Preach from Your Feet.
Friday’s post by Jan of achurchforstarving artists suggests that we get started on those activities that may get us run out of town. Another matter of concern to me and, I’m sure, to all of us: how to help our congregations engage with the communities to which we are called. Our church is teetering on the verge of closure and one of our elders remarked sadly a few months ago that “we have not lived up to our role in this community.” But how to transition from a pastor-driven church into a church characterized by enthusiastic leadership and engagement across the board? Maybe I will preach this post . . .
Many of us preached on the topic of belovedness last Sunday. I might have been better off discarding the wordy sermon over which I labored and replacing it with Sally’s poem loved? in Saturday’s Eternal Echoes. Her mandalas are wonderful, too!
Sundays blogs are often filled with sermons. Shannon Vance-Ocampo this past week used hers to publish her Open Letter re: PC(USA) Special Offerings. Unless you are Presbyterian, you may be unaware of the controversy she addresses. I am moved, as I so often am when women pastors write, from whatever denominational background and in whatever genre, by how expansively our faith worldviews are widened by the inclusion of those who would not have been heard from in ministry contexts only a generation ago.
Continuing on a related topic, Jeff reviewed Sobriety: A Graphic Novel by Daniel D. Maurer in Coffehouse Comtemplative’s Monday post. He says the author has succeed in providing “a simple and accessible way to explain the ethos of Alcoholics Anonymous.” My congregation, like so many, hosts groups each week, and my family, like so many, has been affected by alcoholism in its various manifestations. Perhaps you’d like to add this book to your library.
And finally, on Tuesday – another RevGals book! Stacy N. Sergent, Writing Blindly and Remembering DEG, tells the moving story behind her dedication page in her soon-to-be published Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith. I’m happy to conclude today’s Festival with an invitation to keep reading. Since I myself have a slight Kindle problem, I may be reviewing this book soon.