Worship was a pleasure today. The texts, Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44, are hopeful and ominous at the same time. Be ready! "...for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." (Mt.24:44b NRSV) were challenging to study and prepare into the sermon.
I'm so durn grateful for being able to preach every week. I may have gotten worn-out with Year C Luke but then I got my second wind and made it to Matthew. I've preached the lectionary for about 6 years now, maybe more. I buy new commentaries and read different books each year so I don't know that I've repeated much. Each time I look at the text, I see more that I've never seen before.
When I was a roving evangelist going from congregation to congregation, seldom at one church for two Sundays in a row, I missed terribly being able to craft a contextual sermon for the congregation. I was flying in and flying out without enough contact with my listeners. No relationships were being built except with whoever was the Worship Chair and had to call me to invite me to preach. Those Worship Chairs were glad that I could come and give them a break from calling around for a guest preacher. In a tiny presbytery with many tiny churches, finding a preacher is difficult. I went from church to church for years when our children were younger so that I could take Sundays off to worship at my husband's congregation with the family and be available to take care of sick kids, etc. But, the pull was there always for me to preach at these tiny churches who struggle to fill the pulpit. Years ago, we had a slew of retired preachers who did supply preaching for the presbytery but over the years these guys (and with one exception, they were GUYS) began to die out or stop preaching. As a much younger person, I was available to preach here and there.
Now, though, I'm in my second year of full-time supply for a tiny congregation. Thank you, God, for sending me there and for the congregation to be so very very welcoming of me. We are growing slowly. Six new members in the last two years. When I began preaching there, I would arrive to find five people in attendance or less. Now we have the nine regulars plus visitors and then new members. The growth of the church is slow enough not to upset the old timers but fast enough to encourage us.
When I get in the pulpit there, I feel so profoundly grateful for being there with this portion of God's people.