My first week as the new pastor has come to a close, my office is, sadly, still in shambles (though getting better), and I am in preparation mode for preaching my first sermon to a group of folks I have yet to really know. I want it to go well, not because I want the congregation to like me, but because I want Sunday to actually be worshipful. And, if I’m honest, I also want them to like me.
Yesterday a woman stopped by the church after the office had closed. She had come because she thought a certain event was happening, but had the time wrong. We talked. She shared with me some of her story. It was one of those moments when I realize that I am in the presence of a very special spirit. That’s the kind of experience I always hope for in worship, that we might realize. Walter Brueggemann once wrote: “The primary office of the pastor is make people aware.”
Though I know a fair amount of attention is going to paid to me on Sunday, because I’m the new guy in the room, I hope and pray that through the prayers, liturgy, hymns, sermon, and even passing of the peace (not everyone’s favorite part of the service) we might all catch a glimpse of the Divine and grow in our awareness of God’s constant presence in our lives, and that we might be reminded of Jesus’ invitation to lean into that presence and be transformed…again. And I believe that can happen when we share our stories, in worship, in the office, in random meetings, just about any time.
And may the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you!