What do you expect out of worship? More specifically, what do you expect from the proclamation, the sermon?
Me? I expect change. When Carol and I go to worship, I have every expectation, every hope, that we will leave the worship hour different people than when we came in. And each Sunday as we gather here, I preach with the intent, that you and I together, will be a changed people. Why? Because I take seriously the promise of our first lesson this morning. Isaiah’s wonderful prophecy that says God sends the Word out and it will not return empty. It will accomplish its purpose, it will succeed in its task. Now think about that. What we are about is not some social construct; not some philosophical option; but rather an understanding that God has a desire for God’s people, and God uses us to do the work that changes the world, one person at a time.
There are a number of ways to think about hospitality, a number of definitions. They include welcoming of the stranger – opening doors, setting up beds. Stocking shelves at food pantries – preparing meals at a Soup Kitchen. Cooking and setting the table for dinner in the Fellowship Hall. Our Gospel this morning talks about hospitality. Telling us plainly about what’s meant by welcoming others. It’s the simplest of actions. One that begins with trust and openness. It’s a gesture that becomes a way of life.
During our Church Council Retreat each year, we ask people to talk about why it is that they are members of Faith. (more…)
Pastor and I have repeatedly been talking with our Council and others about being in a “Pentecost Time,” a time when there is such a sense of God’s Spirit moving in and through this special Family of Faith. From our new Immigration and Refugee ministry, to our expanded tutoring in Newark, to our Jewish conversations and our Roman Catholic planning, to our Benefit Concerts and special music ministry, to our Reformation Anniversary celebrations and our Symposiums, that help us delve more deeply into our faith and our servant ministry, there is a growing sense that Faith is a regional parish embarking on new and exciting Spirit driven ventures.
This morning I want to tell you what was for me a “Pentecost Story,” and to do that I want to cobble together a few pieces in light of our lessons today. Lessons that talk about our being changed by our baptisms; and our being sent to share a life changing message with the world; and our being warned in both our first lesson with Jeremiah and in our Gospel with Jesus, that people are not going to listen, and they are not going to be happy with us. Now isn’t that a different understanding of what we expect in the world. But Jesus says it plainly…what I am telling you…get up on the roof and tell the world.