Sunday, August 17, 2008

Radical Presence

I gave my first sermon as “Vicar Jason” this weekend, preaching once on Saturday and three times on Sunday. This will be my task for every other weekend this year on internship. Luckily, I do not require sleep. ;)

I thought about posting my sermon on this blog, but it is quite long for an online post. Plus, I gave the sermon without notes, so it really isn’t what’s written down. It was so much different once I got up there, once I let go, and started talking. It was actually a rush, to be honest.

What hit me from today was the response from people in the congregation. Standing there after each service, shaking the hands of the different people in line, I was given a snippet of lives lived, each in their own unique way, as they continued my sermon in their own words. It was like the body of Christ – that which we proclaim to be – in action. People had taken my imperfect sermon and applied it to their own lives, taking my inadequate words and, with the Holy Spirit, made them real.

“Good sermon, Vicar. I’ve been going through some tough changes lately myself, having been laid off from two jobs. Just know that I take comfort in the presence of God in the unexpected places, too.”

“Thank you for your words. God continues to be present in my life, after 106 years.”

That’s right, there’s someone in our congregation who is 106 (and a HALF, as she makes sure to mention). There’s also someone who’s recently lost their job. There are people who are in every stage of life, dealing with every kind of problem, reveling in every kind of situation life throws at them. And we have the audacity to get up and proclaim God’s radical and sustaining love for each and every one of them…including us. I mean, wow.

How could we do any of this without God’s help? It would be egotistical and condescending to imagine we could. Yet pastors get up and proclaim in the pulpit, speaking God’s word to us today.

That great Lutheran response, “I will, and I ask God to help and guide me,” is our confession of faith. Who are we to get up and proclaim? We continually ask. And God answers from the depths of time and eternity, echoing through the millennia, “Who are you not to? I am with you. This is all you need.”


At 4:19 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

Very well said. Hope all is to you.

At 9:55 AM , Blogger Katie said...

Sounds like it was fantastic. Did anyone record it for you? I ask because I'd like to hear it if they did and if the written version doesn't live up to the real thing.

Also, when my dad was in the position you're in 25 years ago in Nebraska, he had to have written record of every single sermon. They'd record the audio and my mom would transcribe it afterward because, on his most prepared day on paper, I never saw him with more than an outline. Its good to know there are still guys preaching in that fashion somewhere. [The local fare had begun to concern me.]


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