Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time for Some Campaignin'

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

South Tryon Sermon

I thought I would post the sermon I preached at South Tryon Community Church this past Saturday. South Tryon is a predominantly African American church so it was a new experience for me, and you can hear one gentleman "Amen" particularly well. It was a great experience! Listen here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Week 9

Well, my time is almost up. I wrapped up my ninth week here at Myers Park UMC this week and now I have only one more until my internship is officially finished. July 27 is my last Sunday and last day period. It has gone way too fast, but it will be nice to have some time off before school starts again to reflect and get ready. I will also be making a short trip home to Michigan from August 9-19. Jen will be in Barbados at the time so I thought rather than sit around in Durham I'd come back and spend some time with family. I've missed Michigan summers so this will be much welcomed by myself.

This past week was surprisingly hectic. I spent a good deal of time with my book study, as I've been trying to figure out a more effective way to run the class. The first two weeks were a bit chaotic and I struggled with not having clarified our goals. This past Tuesday went much better, as I had more of a plan for the night. I also helped Kevin Wright with a few tasks, and spent time preparing for my Sunday school class this weekend. It will be an interesting class.

Like I said in my last post, I'm discovering how hard ministry really is, and how hard it is to be a Christian. It's not easy to worship a crucified Lord in a world ostensibly ruled by crucifiers. It's not easy to be willing to follow him, to renounce violence, to enter into solidarity with the poor. It's not easy to recognize that capitalism creates us to be a type of people in direct conflict with the character of people Christ calls us to be. It's not easy to put trust in God, not money. It's not easy to have people you love call you a fool, or morally depraved for refusing to concede that humanity is in control of history. It's not easy to confess the Slain Lamb as Lord, and his cross as his method of conquest.

Discerning how to follow Christ in an unwilling world is not easy. But if there's anything Christ says in the Gospels it is that following the narrow road that is itself life is not easy. Of course, we middle and upper class Christians have largely neutralized this cost, thinking that somehow by virtue of the fact we live in America the cost of following Christ is less than it used to be.

I've also discovered that ministry can be very lonely. I have a roommate, and I have great friends and colleagues at the church, but there is a keen sense of loneliness that sets in. It's more than simply being around people can remedy. I think I'm realizing that it's very difficult for us to really know another person. This becomes especially poignant in the hospital. Even those suffering from similar diseases suffer differently. Our suffering always has our own nuance that no one else can fully understand.

Okay, now I'm starting to ramble. Thus, I will end. One more week ahead, and it's time to continue to prepare for my book study. Hope all is well with each of you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Week 7

Clearly, this blog has been a massive failure. I suppose it became a superfluity among the immediately pressing activities with which I have been involved this summer. But, I thought I'd give a quick update on my rapidly ending internship.

In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to be involved in a number of ministries. I've done hospital visits, home visits, been a liturgist, helped serve communion, prepare a funeral service and sermon, preach, construct and lead a book study, etc. My summer has been inundated with fantastic learning opportunities and wonderful interactions with parishioners. The life of the parish is tough; and this might be one of the greatest intangibles I've learned this summer. I am more convinced than ever that adequate theological training is a necessity, nay an absolute requisite for pastoral ministry. I worry to no end about those Christian denominations that consider it either a hurdle to get out of the way or ancillary concern to effective ministry ( own Wesleyan denomination). I worry about those Christians who have been taught that Christianity is relatively simple and easy, and that to be a Christian is predominantly associated with something we confess, rather than with how we live our lives. And I am even more alert to the danger that Christian acquiescence to American culture and patriotism poses to faithful Christian discipleship. We need to get the flag out of our sanctuaries, and we need to do it now.

Nonetheless, with all of these worries that have become more acute I am also extremely hopeful. I am hopeful because 1) I believe that the Holy Spirit actually is active in His church, and 2) I think parishioners are smarter than we give them credit for.

I hope to post a few more reflections before my time at Myers Park UMC finishes, but for now I will provide you with access to my recently preached sermon, and transcript for my funeral sermon. I hope and pray all is well with each of you!

Pax Christi.