Freed By the God of Possibilities
Four weeks into my Contextual Education site assignment, and I had the opportunity to preach! I am at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in north Philadelphia. In previous weeks, I have had the opportunity to lead other parts of the worship service. I have started the service with the blessing and Confession & Forgiveness. I have read the Scripture readings for the day. I have assisted with Communion and have written and led the Prayers of Intercession. I have also had the opportunity on Friday afternoons to accompany the pastor when visiting church members who are now in nursing homes and senior care facilities. It has been a wonderful beginning, and I have enjoyed getting to know the pastor and congregation members of the church.
I believe that being able to preach is a big responsibility. While in the pulpit, I am given the authority to share the Word of God and speak the Gospel promise to God’s people. This is not a job to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, I have heard messages from the pulpit that hurt people, that misinterpreted the Scripture or, at times, flat out misused the Scripture. The message I share, when I am in front of the church, needs to be filled with the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the faithful promise of our God. Ultimately, it is the Spirit that works through me. However, thoughtful prayer, study of the Scripture text, work to understand the historical context, and meaningful consideration on how the passages apply to today, all reflect my faithfulness and commitment to my call and my duty.
In this my first “official” sermon as a seminary student, I had to complete worksheets to show my preparation. I had the chance to practice my sermon in front of my preaching class, and I received feedback on strengthen my message. While it was required for this sermon, I hope that I put this kind of deep study and effort into preparations for all my sermons. I know that there will be weeks as a pastor that other responsibilities will take up my time, and I will be left preparing my sermon on Saturday night. In these moments, the Spirit will be extra present, and I will be assured that in faith, God’s message will be communicated Sunday morning. However, I never want to use the Spirit as a cop out or a rationalization for procrastination. I have been called to share the Gospel promise! It is a call that requires dedication and hard work. This week, I am proud of the work I put in and the gifts God has given me. I am thankful for the presence of the Spirit, the opportunity to learn in preaching class, and the privilege to experience the pulpit as part of my education. I pray that I never take it for granted, and that through me, God may make God’s promise of grace, hope, and love known to God’s people!
Readings for this Week
Old Testament: Amos 5:6-15
Gospel: Mark 10:17-31