It is a rare thing to preach in front of colleagues.
It is especially rare for me because it's not something I seek, or relish.
Last week, I did it twice.
The first time was a joke. I had not meant for it to be.
I had committed to substituting for a colleague whose family emergency precluded her from being present at the Board of Ministry retreat. I was glad to offer help, as she's my friend and member of the clergy with whom I am in a weekly covenant group.
I could swear she told me I'll be preaching Tuesday afternoon.
You could imagine my surprise when, on Monday afternoon, the worship leader looked at me as if to say, "You ready, we're starting, RIGHT NOW!"
I said, "Me?" "I thought I was preaching tomorrow." Which meant I was going to spend some time Monday night working on what I was going to say Tuesday.
Nope. Right here. Right now.
I ran to my laptop to check to see if my rough outline for what I was preparing for "Tuesday" was in a form I could do anything with.
It may have been, but my panic was such that I couldn't pull it together.
So, I did what any other reasonable person would do. I pulled up the previous Sunday's sermon on my laptop and went with that. To make it even more strange, I didn't have time to get a hard copy printed so I carried the laptop into the pulpit. That's the only time I see that happening again. The original version of the sermon, as preached at Saint John's, is linked here from our church's website. The version preached at Lakeshore, hopefully, will fade into obscurity.
I got through it. People were kind. Candidates for ministry knew better than to be anything other than that, at least to my face. My colleagues of many years were kind, but enjoyed the laugh. No doubt, I would have to0, on the other side.
It was hardly my best. But it got my heart pumping!
The other opportunity came last week as we hosted the clergy from my district. I was numb from the previous days' work with the Board, and the next day I've got preachers coming into our church?
Forget about it.
One sure way to insure I'll attend such meetings is to have me host them!
Anyway, I've been living with this one for quite awhile. There's some things on my heart I felt I needed to say to my sisters and brothers. Something that burned. I have to believe it was of God.
And as it is when you've got something to say, God's humor is such that despite my passion, you can rest assured the folks you most want to hear you don't show up.
Isn't that just the way?
Nonetheless, that sermon is here, and I'm thankful I got that opportunity.