Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Sunday in Charge at Church

Yesterday I was in charge at church.  We are off-lectionary, so we were doing the second week considering, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

On Saturday, I didn't feel like I had much to say.  We've had one of our older members of church die this week, so it was interesting to read people's comments in the various Facebook posts.  I am always astonished at the theology exhibited, ideas along the lines of he was wanted in Heaven more than we wanted him here.  On Saturday, I also watched a bit of a documentary on Thurgood Marshall, while waiting for A Moveable Feast to come on PBS.

I felt a bit of what I usually feel when watching those shows, a frustration that I haven't done enough with my life.  But I'm fairly certain that Marshall didn't grow up saying, "I'm going to dismantle segregation, and here's how I will do it."  He was in the right place at the right time, and he was brave.

So, yesterday morning, I had some ideas, but I hadn't sketched out my sermon in my head.  I wanted to be open to the Holy Spirit.

In all 3 services, I talked about mourning, about how even though time may lessen the sting of grief, it doesn't really go away.  I talked about ways to deal with our sorrow, whether it be the sorrow of the wider world (which I made specific reference to refugees and the fact that more people are fleeing for their lives now than any time since WWII, which I didn't think of as a terribly political statement)--I said that no matter where we are on the political spectrum, there's plenty to make us mourn. 
In the early and late worship service, I pointed to the Exodus material that our pastor had chosen to go with the Gospel as a way to handle our grief, whether it be grief about the larger world or personal grief.  I pointed to the passage about rest.  I tied in a documentary about Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, and then I came back to the Beatitudes to point out that Jesus says we don't have to be spiritual giants like Marshall, and what an inversion of what the world tells us that is.  I came back to comfort and how Jesus promises us true comfort.
I did mention the idea of Heaven where we meet our loved ones and dead pets at the Rainbow Bridge is a very recent idea, and that 1st century people hearing Jesus would not have heard comfort for those who mourn and thought of our modern idea of Heaven.  I've said this in our church before.  I hasten to add that it's not that I don't believe in Heaven, but that Jesus didn't come to buy us a ticket to Heaven, but to proclaim that God's Kingdom is here and now and we don't have to wait for it--and that's the comfort Jesus promises.
At the 9:45 service, I had 2 different ideas for arts and crafts:  to make art/writing about those we have lost and what makes us smile/gives us comfort remembering them--I didn't realize that Zori's grandmother was in hospice, and she got tears immediately.  I had said that my other idea was to write to our legislators about whatever in the world was making us mourn, but that felt dangerous too.
From there, people went to work.  I painted with watercolors, the kind that elementary school kids use.  I found it soothing, and we had a good sharing time.  We did talk politics, since many of us are heartsick over decisions being made at the national level, and those things found their way into our art about mourning and loss.  But it was a good sharing time, and while some said harsh things about Trump, we didn't say anything about Trump's supporters.
My spouse was at the late service, and he said that my sermon was more political than usual, but nothing out of range for our church.  And since he sits in the choir, he can see the reactions on people's faces, and he said that there was lots of nodding across the sanctuary.
I figure the advantage to having lay people preach occasionally is that the congregation gets to hear a different voice--and if they're in disagreement, they can say, "Well, she's not the preacher, is she?"
On her way out, one woman said to me, "I hope you're being groomed for this position."
I said, "If I am, I need to get back to school.  That thought isn't an unpleasant one."
But it's a thought for another day--today it's off to my office, getting ready for the accreditation site visit.

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