Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We Believe in Life

Last Sunday I preached my first full-length sermon. I know that in many congregations its common practice to have the religious educator preach a number of times a year, but not in the congregation I serve. Last summer I asked to have a sermon slot this fall. I thought we'd probably be growing pretty significantly with a new building and more visibility in the community, and I thought parents might want to know a little more about the theology and educational philosophy of their religious educator.

It's funny, because this fall I was hardly ever in front of the congregation. I schedule the weekly storyteller, so could choose not schedule myself, a good plan because I had to deal with week after week of new and unexpected RE needs. I used to introduce the RE program and the story teller each week, but in the new space that didn't seem to make sense. It was really just a marketing ploy anyway, so that parents who were visiting would know who to ask if they had questions. We're screaming almost directly from a family sized church to program sized, skipping right past pastoral sized, so people need to know to ask teachers, RE council members and not just me, anyway.

But being out of the eye of the congregation had other effects, people asked me why my name was on the sign on the building and they asked me what my regular job was, as if this was some little part time thing I did on the side. Being out of the eye of the congregation just wasn't a good idea.

So, timing for a service lead by the DRE was good, and even though it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the house was pretty full. And it wasn't just full of parents and teachers, we had a huge turn out of people who have no children in the program at all. This was published in the newsletter and online as a service about RE--about the spiritual growth of children, a friend who came to hear me preach mentioned that broad attendance is not what would happen in most congregations. Peter Bowden's recent blog about publishing sermon titles reinforced my friend's observation.

I enjoyed the service a great deal. Picking the hymns and even the prelude was really fun. Offering prayers and meditation was deeply satisfying. But I've done those pieces before in multi gen worship. The sermon was really just a long story I shared with a little Fowler thrown in, so was a lovely and simple pleasure for me. And shhh.....don't tell the ministers, but leading a service and offering a sermon was much easier than what I usually do on Sunday morning! Much!

What did I learn from this experience?

You can't have a microphone, even one that's turned off, anywhere near the main podium.

A board member/tech guy coming up to take down offending microphones is better than feedback

14 point is almost too small to read, even with tri-focals. 12 point italics-- ridiculous.

Having a contingency section of the sermon (in case something goes long and you have to wrap up fast) is a good idea

Travel clocks work better than cell phones for keeping time (at LREDA GA Professional day I had to keep checking my cell phone for the time, how crass!!)

You need a whole glass of water behind the podium, maybe two if it's dry.

Making 200 people laugh is a great pleasure

Crying in front of 200 people is also a great pleasure

And the final thing I learned........true stuff; loving is the answer.



ms. kitty said...

It is intoxicating to have a successful time in the pulpit! It can become an addiction, so be aware.

boston unitarian said...

It can be intoxicating indeed! When can we see the text (or hear a recording?) Many blessings, BU