With the new year fast approaching, I wanted to give you one more article from the church plant memoirs. This is less an article, and more a plea. A month ago, my pastor encouraged me to take the pulpit from him one Sunday evening this coming January. I’m reluctantly agreeing, with the caveat that he have a sermon prepared just in case. Though I’ve spoken briefly at men’s ministry events, this will be the first time I’ll be preparing and preaching a sermon on a Sunday. Everyone has their first time, and at 48 years old, this will be mine. When I started helping with this church plant, preaching was the furthest from my mind. Of course, I never thought I’d be driving into the city on a weekly(sometimes more than weekly) basis to help out with a church plant. The plans of man versus the plans of God and all that jazz. Right?
Now, I’m not taking this lightly. I want to do a job worthy of my pastor and this great group of people who now attend Epiphany. Even more, I want to honor God with these often, filthy lips. I’m not stepping up to this pulpit, full of pride and enthusiasm, but with lowliness of heart and a reluctant desire to see if there is a further calling for me in this area. I’m sure one of pastor’s thoughts are to have capable people within the church to fill in when he can’t be here, instead of having to rely on someone coming from outside. I admit my curiosity in this as well. Will I at least make sense? Will anyone learn anything? Will grace be displayed. Will I distinguish well between Law & Gospel. Will I talk enough, or not enough? Most of all, how do I keep people from falling asleep?
Writing is easier. I’ll leave whether anyone considers if I’m good at it to those reading, but it is easier. You can take your time formulating ideas and you can review it over and over, …and over again. In the end, if you’re still not satisfied you can abandon it. Walk away completely, and never turn back. You can also keep working at it, coming back months later, with new perspective. Internet trolls aside, I can hide behind my keyboard, and my blog. No one has to see my face, or hear my voice. Part of me thinks that’s the better option, people reading what I have to say without any pre-conceived notion of who I “appear” to be.
Preparing a sermon? Now, I have a deadline! I have to be done or I have nothing to say. It frightens me.
I also find the challenge intriguing. Pastor gave me plenty of time to prepare, and he promises to help me through the process along the way. I hope by the time I’m done, I make sense to those I’m preaching to, but I also hope that I get a better sense of preparing a sermon, so I can practice this on my own, going forward. I’d like to see, if only for personal reasons, if I could prepare a sermon in a week, on a consistent basis, even if I’m only preaching to myself. That’s the part that intrigues me.
I’m a civil servant here in NYC and have about 8 years before I could legally retire with my pension. My wife says, I probably have a little longer than that. Either way, I don’t know if full-time ministry will ever be in my future, but it’s a thought beginning to percolate within me. As much as I try to squash it down, it never completely goes away. So, I live with this nagging sense of do I, or don’t I. I feel content to continue being the help pastor needs here in Manhattan. Except for preaching, he knows this church will be ready every Sunday, whether he is here or not. Thanks to the work of some of our congregants who now help each week, the church can be ready when neither of us are there.
But if this is one more way to help the pastor, one more way to encourage the church, how do I not take it? How do I not at least take one shot at it, to see if I can be that help in one more area. As a civil servant, some of the mindsets that I work around is, “don’t learn anything else or they’ll expect you to do it!” I get where that’s coming from. I just can’t work like that. I’m not hyping myself up as some “Superclerk” at my job. I just think, like at church, if it helps, then why not? So here I stand, preparing a sermon for the first time ever.
And I need your help. This is the “plea” part.
If there was ever a time to be completely and utterly selfish, then here it is.
Pray for me.
As I said earlier, I’m stepping out of a very comfortable comfort zone to do this, and I am taking this very seriously. I don’t want to just give words, but translate truth and hope(hopefully). I’m NOT taking it so seriously that I think I have to be perfect or that everyone will like what I have to say. Heck, I’m not sure if I’ll like what I have to say. But I can use your prayers that what I’ll say will honor God and encourage others. I need your prayers for ears to be open for the good things and closed to the drivel that may leak out in-between. I need your prayers that I can put words to paper in a reasonable time frame and then verbally translate them well for others. I need your prayers that the Holy Spirit would be my ultimate guide and encouragement in all these things.
The date is Sunday, January 14th, 2018 at 5:00 PM.
You can watch it live from our Epiphany Lutheran Facebook Page
Thank You Again.
A very Happy New Year to you all!
If you’d like to know more about our church, our pastor, maybe listen to some of his sermons, and read his other writings, check out our website by clicking the name below. If you’d like to help us out financially, go to the website, and click the menu and when it drops down click on the “GIVE” button.
you can also find us and give via VENMO. Look us up there at @EpiphanyLutheranNYC