Archive for the “Preaching” Category

Happy New Year all! 2004 is here, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s off to a fine start. On New Year’s Eve, I was scheduled to preach at my church’s annual New Year’s Eve Communion Service. In preparation for this event, I had written a sermon on the Lord’s Supper for my preaching class last semester. Although I got a B+ on the sermon, I had only put 2 days into it, and I wasn’t satisfied with it. During my trip home for Christmas, I spent a considerable quantity of time improving the sermon. The revised version turned out much better, and went over well at the service.

After the service, rather than go across the street to Forest Park where the big St. Louis New Year bash was being held, I went to a small party at the home of the McGarrys. This turned out to be a wise decision, since the organizers of the events at the park had planned on 25,000 people and 3-4x as many showed up. Needless to say, it was a mess over there, and I was glad to avoid it. Anyway, the party with the McGarrys was the expected subdued yet fun affair featuring a variety of cheeses, people I’ve never met before, a quick round of Taboo, an appearance by the other Steve Jam(i)eson, and a screening of Airplane 2.

And then there was the pickled herring. Amongst the wide variety of cheeses I noticed a bowl of gray matter that appeared to have a fishy texture. Upon inquiring what it was, Jessica challenged me to eat it before being informed of its identity. And just to prove that it was safe, she placed a piece of the mystery matter on a cracker and consumed it. Nevertheless, I declined for the moment. Later in the evening however, the challenge came up again. Despite having discovered that the substance at hand was pickled herring, I agreed to give it a try. Feeling like I was on “Fear Factor”, I took a bite from the chunk of the repellent smelling fish on cracker that I had been given. For the first nanosecond of mastication it was tolerable, but soon my taste-buds began to rebel against this foul fish. My face contorted in many strange ways as I chewed and fought the urge to puke. After I managed to swallow the small bite, I immediately downed a can of soda to wash away the revolting aftertaste. Jessica can keep her pickled herring. As for me, I have a new rule: If it looks nasty and smells nasty, by no means am I to put it in my mouth!

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[Second entry in a series on my mission trip to Minnesota.]

Before our trip to Minnesota, my friend Willy and I were recruited to do four devotionals during the week. These were supposed to be given at our evening worship service back at camp on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. There was no devotional necessary on Wednesday, because that was our half-workday and we’d all be out on the town in the evening. Willy had the idea to do the four chapters of Jonah for our four devotionals, and that worked out really well with our schedule for the week since there is a natural break between chapters 2 and 3 that would line-up with the break on Wednesday. We also decided that Willy would do chapters 1 and 4, and that I would do chapters 2 and 3.

When we got to camp on Saturday, we found out that we had to do a fifth devotional on Sunday. This gave us two options. We could either come up with a fifth devotional immediately, or we would have to mess up our beautiful Jonah schedule and its strategically placed break in the middle. Willy and I both felt that the latter option was quite undesirable, so Willy quickly put together a quick introduction to the Biblical mandate for racial reconciliation for the Sunday devotional, which seemed like an appropriate topic given the nature of our mission trip. Unfortunately, such a controversial topic went over like a ton of bricks, and we should have seen it coming.

On Monday, Willy was ready to start the devotional series on Jonah, however it was decided to cancel the worship service in favor of playing basketball with some of the people the groups had met earlier in the day. Thus, when Tuesday came around, and it was my turn to lead the devotional, I had to do both chapters 1 and 2. Nevertheless, the devotional turned out very well. I got good feedback from my group, and I was told that even the other group, which had been so put off by Willy’s devotional, liked it too. I suppose pointing out the Covenant connection between the Hebrew temple and Christ is less controversial than racial reconciliation.

I was scheduled to give my second devotional on Thursday, but that day we found out that what we had originally been told—that we were to do four devotionals—was actually correct. On Friday we were to go to a special service at the church on the reservation where the pastor would speak, so the four days for the devotionals were actually Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Thus we were left with just one more time slot to do another two chapters of Jonah. Since chapter 4, as the conclusion of the story, was the more important chapter to focus on, Willy, who had prepared for that chapter, took on the job.

Although each of our devotionals on Jonah turned out very well, I was a little disappointed that we had to condense our material from four devotionals into two. During my preparation on chapters 2 and 3, I gained an increased appreciation for Jonah. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to do a deeper presentation someday.

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My Dad’s flight got in Friday morning, and despite his suitcases having popped open, he was soon in a cab on his way to meet me at the seminary. He got to campus just in time to join me for Acts & Paul. That evening, my Dad and I went to the symphony where we enjoyed a fine Singles Awareness Day… er… Valentine’s Day program featuring a feisty French conductor.

On Saturday, I did some homework and it snowed. Granted, it wasn’t as much as the east coast received, which Kyrie has adequately documented, but it was enough to make driving on Sunday morning a tad treacherous. Sunday was, of course, my public preaching debut, so I had no choice but to venture out. On the other hand, the snow cut church attendance in half, which made my preaching debut a little less intimidating.

My preaching debut turned out really well. I was very nervous while I was sitting in front of the congregation waiting for the sermon time, but once I got into the pulpit I got into the groove pretty quickly. I was pleased with the final manuscript of my sermon, into which I had put a lot of effort improving during the preceding week, and I got a lot of positive response from the people I talked to after the service. I am looking forward to being able to preach at Memorial again sometime.

Hopefully, I will soon have the manuscript posted over in the documents section, along with an MP3 of my preaching it for those of you who couldn’t be there.

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I’ve completed three preaching classes. I’ve preached 4 different sermons before my classmates. I’ve taught Sunday school classes. I’ve led liturgy. On Sunday, February 16th, I will take another step forward as I ascend into the pulpit at Memorial Pres. and preach to an actual congregation.

A week or so ago, my friend and ruling elder Willy approached me about preaching on the 16th. That date is Mission Focus Sunday this year at Memorial, and it is apparently custom to have a guest preacher present a sermon about missions as part of the program for the day. Willy wanted to know if I was interested, and if I had a sermon already prepared that fit the theme, since it was rather short notice for a busy student like myself. I volunteered my Acts 6–7 sermon, and he and pastor George confirmed that it fit the theme.
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