Whoo hoo! It's Friday night and the sermon is done!
I'll post it once I've had a chance to check for typos and tweak the grammar with fresh eyes.
To all of you who have wished me luck for Sunday - thanks!
This will actually be the 4th time I'm preaching at this congregation (5th if I count the Sunrise Easter sermon I did last year). But this will be the first time I've done it on short notice, and that makes it likely that most of the congregation will be coming expecting to see our regular Pastor and they're getting 'substitute preacher' instead….Heh, heh.
Prior to joining the United Church of Christ I was a Unitarian Universalist and I had quite a few opportunities to man (or woman) the pulpit. But the UCC is different. We follow the lectionary calendar so my choice of preaching topics is much more limited than when I was a free-spirit UU. I actually prefer it this way. I enjoy the challenge of tackling the scripture and finding an angle that I feel people will respond to.
For example, while brainstorming ideas for my sermon on the Beatitudes I went through the normal progression of first thinking about what I want to say, then moving to what I thought the congregation would want to hear, and finally settling on what I think the congregation needs to hear.
We have quite a few members of our church who are hurting right now. We had a beloved member pass away over the summer. Another passed away in the Fall. Several members have lost a parent or sibling. Others have lost cherished friends. We've had several marriages and relationships that have broken up or are in transition. Others are dealing with illnesses either personal or within their immediate family.
These kind of life moments are typical in church families but in our small congregation it just seems to have piled up on us of late.
Our members give so much of themselves: to their families, to their community, to our church, to our various outreach projects that they don't need to hear yet another sermon focusing on the "Woes" - they don't need a finger-wagging lecture telling them how we are all doomed to fall short of the mark because we are 'rich' and 'full' and don't give enough time to God. We don't need a guilt trip - we need a break. So my sermon focuses on the healing potential of the Beatitudes, the ways in which they offer us hope.
I think I managed to pull it off with what I've written -
Now if I could just come up with a decent children's sermon to go along with it.
Something tells me I'll be perusing the 11th Hour Preacher Party posts over at RevGalBlogPals tomorrow!